How Space-Based Blockchain Can Bring Much-Needed Security to the Internet of Things

By May 17, 2018Blogs, News

Security. It’s one of Maslow’s basic needs for clear reason. From our physical safety, to personal information, to our finances, to our facial features, there’s nary an aspect of life that isn’t impacted by warranted concerns over security — especially now as it relates to our data, both personal and corporate.

Benevolent or not, there are scores of individuals, marketers, companies and hackers (or a combination thereof) looking to accrue, store, and analyze our data. And regardless of whether that information is stored/transmitted across the globe or across the hall, most of us know that it requires increasingly stronger security as the amount of this amassed data grows in sensitivity and amount every day.

The emerging worlds of IoT and blockchain, and their associated data, are no different. 

When the stakes are particularly highas is the case with financial transactions and connections between thousands of varied, unregulated “brains” information sensitivity becomes especially important. Right now (years ago, really) is when creating and maintaining security becomes paramount. Mass adoption of IoT will likely depend on it.

The good news is that blockchain can provide much-needed security to the IoT. And a space-based IoT-blockchain system can take that capability and amplify it. Because while blockchain can secure the IoT, as MIT Technology Review reports, there’s reason to pressure test that.

A blockchain is decentralized, so no single authority can approve transactions or set specific rules to have transactions accepted. As a result, the model involves a great deal of trust, as all the participants in the network must reach a consensus to accept transactions. Most important of all, it’s secure. The database can only be extended; previous records cannot be changed—or, at least, there’s a very high cost if someone wants to alter previous records. — MIT Technology Review


3 components of space-based security: Safety, longevity, and coverage.

  1. Safety: Since outside parties can not access the nodes and everything is “backed up” off-planet, the information relay remains protected from would-be infiltrators. This allows for better processing and swifter, safer transactions that are less likely to be compromised/hacked.
  2. Longevity: Because the blockchain infrastructure is based in space, it’s protected from future disasters, either natural or manmade, thereby increasing its lifespan.
  3. Global Coverage: With space-based connectivity (as opposed to cellular connectivity for instance), a secure network can be established for anyone across the globe and is not limited to traditionally connected areas. A space-based network allows for better, more secure connectivity for the provision of IoT and blockchain, including cryptocurrency services and technology, into under-connected regions of the world. With satellite-based infrastructure, a lack of cellular and wifi access is no longer a barrier.

An overview of the Helios system:


We’re now seeing that blockchain will go far beyond currency.

The first industry that blockchain technology disrupted was finance/currency, and we often see blockchain associated with bitcoin, but the next industry that it enables will be the IoT. And Helios is working to lead the space-based contingent.

With an existing IoT infrastructure, a growing satellite constellation, the Helios IoT-blockchain service is being built to service the most remote and unconnected parts of the world. Helios access points used to collect data transmitted by IoT technology are extremely similar to blockchain nodes, which are key components in the blockchain system — they are essentially small computers.

The Helios IoT access points are being engineered to operate as blockchain nodes in remote parts of the world, in areas like Africa and India, where only five or six nodes would be required to cover up to 120 miles, depending on terrain type. These nodes can also be incorporated into the Helios satellites to provide non-terrestrial backups to the blockchain. Nodes will also be placed on Helios satellites to provide non-terrestrial backups to the blockchain. By connecting the terrestrial nodes to cellular networks as well as the Helios space segment, the system will allow for even better utility.

Of course, all blockchain capabilities — regardless of whether the infrastructure is terrestrial space-based, or both — allow for better IoT security, and ultimately mass adoption. In many ways, it was a pairing that was begging to happen.

First…products built by smaller companies would “check in with a blockchain system periodically to see if there was new software. Then they would securely upload their updates as they developed them. Each device would have a strong cryptographic identity, to ensure the manufacturer is communicating with the right device. As a result, device makers and their customers would know the equipment would efficiently keep its security up to date.” — The Conversation.

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