New common registration protocol for IoT thing registration leveraging blockchain

The group of organizations which launched a blockchain consortium early 2017 (update: now known TIoTA  or The Trusted IoT Alliance), with among many others the purpose of enhancing IoT security and trust by leveraging blockchain technology and further advancing the blockchain and IoT ecosystem towards a ‘Trusted IoT‘, launched an API for IoT ‘thing’ registration.

The common registration protocol supports blockchain implementations on Ethereum, J.P. Morgan Chase’s enterprise version of Ethereum, Quorum, and Linux Foundation’s open source collaborative DLT effort Hyperledger.

The common registration protocol brings industry and commerce legacy systems one step closer to secure interactions with cryptographic networks. This will fundamentally change the approaches to computing that underpin today’s IoT device identities, sensor data, and business logic

The consortium, which was launched by, among others, Cisco, Bosch, Bank of New York Mellon, Gemalto and several startups didn’t just announce the IoT thing/device/appliance registration protocol but also how members intend to use the API. Among the applications they are exploring: IoT device registration in the scope of secure IoT device onboarding and IoT device management (key in IoT platforms), an automotive proof of concept and a ‘cold chain’ supply chain 4.0 application.

Blockchain and IoT common registration protocol - IoT thing registration API supporting Ethereum Quorum and Hyperledger blockchain implementations

The first is particularly eyed by Cisco while the latter is on the list of Skuchain, an enterprise supply chain blockchain expert which developed the API in collaboration with Chronicled (one of the startups that co-founded the group, along with blockchain startups such as Ethereum expert ConsenSys and Industrial IoT startup Filament, whose solutions enable connected machines and devices to transact and exchange value against a blockchain) and other consortium partners.

Binding weaker and stronger cryptographic entities

It’s the first official announcement of the newcomer in the list of groups wanting to advance IoT and blockchain integration.

The common registration protocol is an enabler for developers to strengthen parts of the foundational aspects of IoT where, among others, identify verification of things or appliances come in the picture, specifically in binding weaker identities to stronger cryptographic identities, which, quote “are immutably linked across both physical and digital worlds using blockchain technology”.

Among the weaker identities that can get bound to stronger cryptographic identities the press release mentions examples such as QR codes and UPC code identities.

Quoting Maurizio Greco, CTO of Chronicled: “By creating standards around basic functions, such as registering cryptographic public keys to blockchain systems for ‘thing’ identity verification, we can set a strong foundation for the growth of this exciting new industry”.

Zaki Manian - Founder Skuchain - on Twitter
Zaki Manian – Founder Skuchain – on Twitter

Skuchain, whose Founder Zaki Manian Skuchain is mentioned as press contact regarding the common registration protocol release contributes to Coindesk where he was quoted saying that the tools now enable the same key pair to represent a cryptographic identity compatible with both blockchains. Coindesk mentions that the software development kits are currently in beta, and are available via the Chronicled and Hyperledger libraries on GitHub.

From the April 2017 press release: “Today’s launch of the common registration protocol brings industry and commerce legacy systems one step closer to secure interactions with cryptographic networks. This will fundamentally change the approaches to computing that underpin today’s IoT device identities, sensor data, and business logic”.

Proofs of concept and applications for the common registration protocol

There are several proofs of concept for the new common registration protocol. Bosch has finalized work on an interesting project (more about it here): an Odometer Fraud Prevention System, among others in the scope of privacy, personal data control and data integrity.

It registers automobile odometer readings – mileage and GPS data – on the blockchain to prevent odometer fraud (no tampering, no misleading of potential buyers) while handing over data ownership to users and ensuring data integrity which makes certification of the data easier.

As mentioned, Cisco explores using the protocol to register device identities and associated data, a pretty interesting one in the scope of IoT device management (authentication and identity verification, configuration, network monitoring, updating, patching, etc.).

Blockchain technology is driving a broader trend towards securing digital identities of people, organizations, and physical objects. Machines capable of cryptographically-secured transactions can prevent hacking, data breaches, and more of the problems that plague digital economies today

At the time of the press release startup Chronicled was completing a POC whereby pharmaceutical serializations and temperature tracking data (in the scope of the US DSCA and of temperature-controlled logistics) are logged on the blockchain and Skuchain uses it to support supply chain functions and efficiency in the aerospace industry (in the context of digital identities for IoT-connected products, along with smart contracts, as part of its work to “provide transparency, security and efficiency to the supply chain, enabling planning and agility for downstream buyers and working capital relief for upstream suppliers”).

More about the new common registration protocol in the press release.

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