IoT and DLT Integration—A Choice of Tradeoffs?

Santeri Paavolainen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


The integration between Internet of Things (IoT) systems and Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs) seems to offer a possibility to address some of the shortcomings often encountered in the widespread deployment of IoT systems, as well as open a potential for novel business models. Existing research on IoT-DLT integration has, however, focused primarily on addressing functional problems on a high level and leaving many of the operational problems occurring in a real-world scenario out of scope. For example, a Raspberry Pi single board computer is often used as an analogue for an IoT device—even when it costs ten or hundred times more than an embedded processor inside a low-cost IoT device. Crucially, the cost of an IoT device is a major factor in the economic feasibility at industrial scale. This cost pressure implies that most IoT devices will be relatively cheap and as a consequence have only a meager amount of computing power, memory capacity, and network bandwidth, commonly referred to as constrained devices. Thus, it is important to consider not only macroscopic use cases, but to also address challenges low-cost and constrained devices face if we really want to enable DLT connectivity on a typical IoT device.  This dissertation describes different integration approaches used for IoT-DLT systems, and qualifies their applicability for constrained devices. Of particular importance is an integration method based on light protocols, which provide an enticing tradeoff of providing relatively high security while requiring substantially less resources as operating as a normal, fully functional peer on the DLT. Yet, some of these security tradeoffs can be shown to be worse than commonly assumed, leading to IoT devices being vulnerable to state injection attacks. This work proposes two new novel solutions to address such attacks: decentralised beacons and subset nodes. Decentralised beacons leverages on the existence of a trusted third party in IoT systems—the device owner—to provide scalable attestations of the DLT ground state to a low-power device, with a tradeoff of increased latency to DLT state changes. Subset nodes, in turn, addresses the latency issue by recognizing that most IoT applications will observe only a small subset of the whole DLT state, and by restricting its view to only this subset state, a higher level of security assurances can be reached with modest computing and storage requirement increases. These two methods are complementary and can be deployed separately or in combination.
Translated title of the contributionIoT and DLT Integration—A Choice of Tradeoffs?
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Manner, Jukka, Supervising Professor
  • Nikander, Pekka, Thesis Advisor
  • Sahlin, Bengt, Thesis Advisor, External person
Print ISBNs978-952-64-1604-5
Electronic ISBNs978-952-64-1605-2
Publication statusPublished - 2023
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • distributed ledgers
  • blockchain
  • Internet of Things
  • constrained devices
  • security


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