IBM’s X-Force Red Team Rolls Out Blockchain Security Testing Service

IBM wants to test vulnerabilities in blockchains – before they reach mass adoption.

  • On March 5, tech giant IBM announced the development of a new service designed to test vulnerabilities in enterprise blockchain platforms.

    The initiative, dubbed the “X-Force Red Blockchain Testing service,” is run by IBM’s in-house X-Force Red security team and is intended to test the security of back-end processes for blockchain-powered networks.

    In January 2018, tech advisory firm International Data Corporation (IDC) published a report suggesting that by 2021, the amount of money spent on developing blockchain platforms will grow by 81.2 percent and global spending could reach $9.7 billion. IDC sees the majority of this growth happening in the US, with the country constituting over 40 percent of global spending. Western Europe spends the second-most on blockchain platforms, with China and the Asia-Pacific region tied for third. The study forecasts a 152.5 percent compounded annual growth rate for blockchain technology in Latin America and a 127.3 percent rate in Japan.

    With the increasing adoption of blockchain technology, attacks by those wishing to steal data won’t simply disappear. With its new testing service, IBM hopes to seal the security gaps in enterprise blockchain platforms before hackers can find and exploit them.

    According to IBM’s announcement, the X-Force Red team, which is comprised of hackers well-versed in blockchain security, will “evaluate the whole implementation [of enterprise blockchain platforms] including chain code, public key infrastructure, and hyperledgers.” It will also assess hardware and software applications “used to control access and manage blockchain networks.” IBM believes this new service will help blockchain developers create more secure platforms that can be adopted quickly with minimal risk.

    Charles Henderson, the global head of IBM X-Force Red, spoke to the importance of developing security testing services before blockchains achieve mass adoption:

    “While blockchain is a breakthrough for protecting the integrity of data, that does not mean the solutions that leverage it are immune from attackers, which is why security testing is essential during development and after deployment. If we look at mobile applications, cloud computing, and even personal computers – all these innovations needed to adopt policies and techniques for security after they grew in popularity. Blockchain presents businesses with an opportunity to break that trend.”

    This testing service is just IBM’s most recent foray into the blockchain industry. In February 2017, IBM announced its collaboration with the government of Dubai to experiment with blockchain technology in the fields of trade logistics, transportation, and the Internet of Things. In August 2018, IBM helped the Australian government develop a national blockchain network. Just last month, IBM began participating in a blockchain pilot program aimed at tracking groundwater used by farmers in California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

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