Exclusive Interview with Johannes Drooghaag “Blockchain definitely creates a strong cyber-defence system”


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Blockcast.cc: Dear all, good day. Welcome to Blockcast.cc, your preferred blockchain and crypto new source. My name is Melody Chan, Editor of Blockcast. Our special guest today is Johannes Drooghaag (JD). 

Hi JD, please tell us more about yourself. 

JD: My name is Johannes Drooghaag but most people call me JD. Not only is that much easier to pronounce for everyone who isn’t Dutch, it also saves everyone, including myself, the efforts to sort out the mispronunciations. I started my career in Applied Information Technology and quickly realized that the pace of developments in technology is much higher than the pace in which we learn to handle new technology properly.

This leads to two significant gaps which are slowing us down as society. The first gap is in the communication between the amazing experts and the rest of us. I once described that as “while still explaining (too) many technical details, most experts are already moving on to the next stage of development”. The second gap is the “black box thinking” most people still have when it comes to technology and systems.

Since both gaps continue to widen, and I am convinced that closing these gaps is essential in our connected society, I launched my mission “TWOgether – collaboration between people and technology” and focus on my work on The Human Element in for example Cybersecurity and Agile. My motto is that we do not have to understand the bits and the bytes, but we do need to understand how to use technology in a responsible and secure way.

Blockcast.cc: We understand your passion is in innovation? – What is your definition of innovation?

JD: My personal definition of innovation is creating value by improving what we already use and do. That can be something as simple as improving the readability of online content or complex solutions that improve car safety. My heart starts to beat faster for innovations that drive the badly needed sustainability.

Blockcast.cc: Based on what you have shared, it seems that blockchain is an innovation and maybe not. Tell us your thoughts.

JD: Blockchain itself is a combination of matured technology that was developed in the 70s and 80s. What is truly innovative about blockchain is in the way these technologies are combined to create a platform that embeds security and authorization within the data itself. Another innovative concept that is unique to (most) blockchain platforms is that it assumes attempted manipulation and offers countermeasures by design.

That said, blockchain-related concepts like distributed ledger and decentralization are not innovative in my opinion. One will not easily find an ERP system that does not use a distributed ledger, and the demand for decentralization is mainly driven by the desire to shift power which in most cases means to gain power for those who have stakes in blockchain platforms.

Blockcast.cc: What about cryptocurrency in general? Do you think they are more innovation-driven or incentive-driven?

JD: Cryptocurrencies sum up one of the biggest challenges in our society – shareholder value versus stakeholder value. Almost every cryptocurrency is initially presented as stakeholder value with promises about decoupling and democracy and in some cases even wonderful opportunities for the underprivileged. Unfortunately, we quickly discover that these promises are just the cover for the real shareholder value and the true driver is the incentive in profits.

When we have a look at the pace of improvements, for example in energy consumption and resource requirements of cryptocurrencies, they are in fact hardly progressing.

Blockcast.cc: Cybersecurity is key to our current environment where everything is online, on-chain. What word of caution would you like to share with our crypto and non-crypto readers?

JD: The biggest risk in cybersecurity is a false sense of safety. The biggest danger in cybersecurity is those who create a false sense of safety. We need to be aware that every system we use, including cryptocurrencies and blockchain platforms, is in essence human-made software. Software can have flaws, we all see that in the number of updates we get for our apps, operating systems, and devices. Software can also be outsmarted by using it for different purposes than it was originally designed.

Blockchain is a significantly more secure way of storing and processing data, but it is not the unbreakable bastion many try to sell it for. Cryptocurrencies are a significantly more secure way of storing value, but they too are not the unbreakable bastion many try to sell it for. Just have a look at the celebrity effect on the exchange rates and realize that this can also be applied in the opposite direction.

Caution is especially important when someone claims unbreakable security!

Blockcast.cc: Does blockchain help cybersecurity in anyways?

JD: Yes and no. Blockchain definitely creates a strong cyber-defence system by embedding encryption and authorization in the data and information it contains. Where conventional technology uses an onion-method of creating security layers over the assets, blockchain does that in the assets.

But we also have to consider that blockchain platforms create a so-called technical truth based on network consensus. This does not mean, contrary to what many people believe, that the technical truth represents the actual truth. It solely means that the majority of the network agrees on that particular state of the asset or transaction. When the state or transaction is however wrong, for example by malicious manipulation of the endpoint that is authorized to book a transaction, that same technical truth and the decentralization of blockchain create a bigger problem than what it was intended to solve.

For example: let us assume that a malicious actor is able to pull off a supply chain attack on the issuer of a certificate and thus able to manipulate that content of that certificate. Properly distributed on a blockchain platform, that transaction of that certificate is validated and confirmed. The technical truth, which does not reflect the malicious manipulation of the issuer. Since there is no central governing body in decentralized blockchain platforms, there is no reset button or claim office.

Blockcast.cc: We do have readers who want to start a career in cybersecurity? Can we seek your advice on that?

JD: My first response is “yes, please do join us” because we need smart people from all corners of our society. It is important to understand that cybersecurity is not just about advanced technology and also not about having to understand the latest greatest in threats and solutions. In fact, that belief is how it could get out of control the way it did in the past decades.

Cybersecurity involves understanding processes. Cybersecurity is very much about communication. And most importantly, cybersecurity is not just a matter of IT and technology. So please, do not get scared away by all the tech talks around cybersecurity. When you believe that you can contribute, I promise you that we need your talents and inspiration.

Blockcast.cc: Can you share an inspiring quote for our readers and tell us how this quote has inspired you too?

JD: My favorite quote from my Mother is my beacon in life

“Life is about all of us, not some of us”.

I ask myself these questions a lot: What have you done to improve accessibility, inclusion, diversity? Have you brought value to someone who is not just like yourself?

I think we have lost track of the importance of every human being in our value-focused society, and as a result of that, becoming “some of us” appears to be the top priority. This is not a sustainable model for our society and our planet. That is why I keep using this quote in all situations. “Life is about all of us, not some of us!”

Blockcast.cc: Thanks JD. I like your take on blockchain especially, it is a very practical perspective. For more information on JD’s work, please reach out to him at https://johannesdrooghaag.com/connect.

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