British Telecom Awarded Patent for Blockchain Security Method

The U.K.'s largest internet and telecoms provider, BT, has been awarded a patent for a method to prevent malicious attacks on blockchains.

Nov 1, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:06 a.m. UTC

The U.K.'s largest internet and telecoms provider has been awarded a patent for a proposed cybersecurity measure aimed at protecting blockchains.

In the patent, awarded on Oct. 31, British Telecommunications PLC (BT) outlined a method designed to prevent malicious attacks on blockchains – outlining a way to limit who can commit transactions to the system through user-specific profiles. The blockchain's underlying code would then be able to automatically reject transactions which do not match the pre-described accounts.

One example use case outlined by the patent includes "majority control attacks" (also called "51 percent attacks"), where a hostile force with more than 50 percent of the total computing power tries to control a blockchain network.

According to the patent:

"Despite the architecture of blockchain systems, malicious attacks present a threat to the security and reliability of blockchains."

When an attack is detected, the system will automatically stop conducting transactions, preventing even a majority attack from being effective, according to the patent.

The patent further cites include distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, which are designed to completely overwhelm a miner with an excessive number of transaction requests.

BT does not address how it would deal with such attacks, however it does state that "it would be advantageous to provide a mechanism for detecting and mitigating threats to blockchain environments."

While the patent discusses the method of verifying transactions through the energy-intensive mining process employed by digital currencies like bitcoin, BT notes that the process is unrelated to the patented system.

BT Tower image via Shutterstock

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