With advanced tech, smartphones in the hands of every individual, and the occasional self-driving car on the street, one might think that we are living in some futuristic society. Unfortunately, many industries are still stuck with old systems. The recent ransomware attack on Baltimore’s city government highlights the fact that many institutions are facing increasingly higher risks for being reluctant to change.
The ransomware attack on Baltimore, Maryland’s city government computers specifically affected systems that were needed to complete property deals in the region. As a result, during one of the real estate industry’s busiest times of the year, all relevant transactions were put on hold. When it comes to system evolution, the situation is a cold reminder that Baltimore and many other counties in the U.S. somehow got left by the wayside.
Governments Waste Millions of Dollars on Systems That Are Old And Expensive
There are over 3,000 counties in the U.S., and all of them use various systems that are both old and expensive; some are still using paper to record data. These old systems are highly vulnerable to cyberattacks and natural disasters. Since the databases don’t record revisions, timestamps, etc., hacks are particularly tough to prove. With hacking strategies becoming more advanced by the day, governments need to act quickly with combative technologies of their own before it is too late.
For an example of what “too late” looks like, one should examine Bulgaria. In August of 2018, Bulgaria’s Registry Agency shut down for 17 days straight, the longest outage since the registry’s creation over ten years ago. Reports in Bulgaria claim that the register was closed due to “the failure of four hard drives with 25 terabytes of data.” However, the statement does not clarify what triggered a system-wide failure. It also does not explain why backup systems were never created. Of course, one possible reason is corruption. Another possible reason is that the vulnerable system in Bulgaria fell victim to an advanced hack. Combined with the system’s inability to trace such hacks, corruption in the region might have made it easy for individuals in power to control and access citizens’ information for their own advantage.
Although global real estate has a combined value of 280 trillion dollars, the quality of deeds registration systems is questionable at best. Estimates suggest that there is a combined property value of 9 trillion dollars that is undocumented. To solve this dilemma, many governments and private institutions are looking into the possibility of using blockchain technology.
Blockchain Technology To Bring Security And Efficiency
All records stored on the blockchain are permanent and “hack proof.” According to Deloitte, “84% expect blockchain to provide more security than conventional IT systems.” Furthermore, according to a study by ResearchGate, the implementation of blockchain technology means that there is the potential to save 70% or more on business operations and around 30-50% on compliance. Due to blockchain’s benefits, even the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is supporting the application of blockchain technology for sustainable digital infrastructure.
With a more secure tech alternative already in existence, there is hope for industries to address the vulnerabilities associated with archaic systems. If these industries do not keep up with advances in technology and hacking strategies, they will ultimately face the same fate as the organizations in Baltimore, Bulgaria, and many other regions.
Note: It only makes sense for an organization to consider using public blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, which have been tested for a long time. Governments should be careful when they claim that they use “blockchain,” as there are a number of networks with vulnerable consensus mechanisms and private networks with human controls. An organization should also take into consideration that records on public blockchains are expensive.