It would be an understatement to say that the technology of the blockchain is one of the most innovative in this century. Whenever we think about it, we automatically recall cryptocurrencies, mainly Bitcoin. However, BTC is not the only manifestation of the blockchain, rather, one of the first and most popular. More and more people see decentralization and transparency related bloccano the potential to change many industries. Let’s look at four really strong applications of the blockchain, possible in the real world.
Applications of the blockchain in the real world
Before turning to the sectors, which can be applications of the blockchain, let’s first get acquainted with the technology.
What is the blockchain?
The blockchain is a chain of blocks, where each block contains valuable data, independent from the surveillance center. It is cryptographically safe and unchanged. Blockchain uses two important data structures: pointers (pointer) and linked lists (linked lists).
Pointers are variables in programming, which store addresses of other variables. Usually variables in any programming language store data.
For example, int a = 10 means that there is a variable “a” that stores integer values. In this case, the integer value is 10. This is a normal variable.
In a sequence of blocks each block contains data that is associated with the following block pointer. The pointer variable, in this case, contains the address of the next node and forms a connection. The last node contains the null pointer.
It is important to note that the pointer inside each block contains the address of the next block. What this means for the first block in the list? Where is the index of the first block?
The first block is called the “Genesis unit”, and the pointer is in the system. It looks like this:
If you’re wondering what a hash pointer is a pointer that contains the hash of the previous block. About the hashes, we’ll talk.
The blockchain is essentially a linked list that looks like this:
The blockchain is a linked listthat contains the data and pointers of the hash of the previous block, creating a chain. A pointer to a hash is similar to a pointer, but apart from containing the address of the previous block it also contains a hash of the previous block. This small detail makes the blockchain so reliable and promising.
Remember this moment, to him we shall return.
So, two of the most interesting properties of the blockchain:
Now let’s look at how the blockchain is acquiring each of these properties.
Conventional network structure is a “client-server”.
This centralized server. Anyone who wants to connect to the server, may send a request to obtain the necessary information. So, for the most part, the Internet works. When you want something from Google, you can send a request to the Google server, which returns with the result. It is a client-server system. What is the problem with this model?
Because it all depends on the server, it is critical that the server was functioning constantly to keep the system running. This narrow neck. Suppose, for some reason, the master server will stop working. This will affect the entire network. There are also security issues. Since the network is centralized, the server handles a lot of sensitive information about customers. This means that anyone can hack the server and get these pieces of information. In addition, there remains the problem of censorship. If the server decides that a particular item (song, movie, book, etc.) shall not be spread in the network, so be it.
Thus, to counter all these problems, it took a different network architecture. It is a network that shares all of its workload among equally privileged participants (peers), that is, peer-to-peer. No longer a single Central server all nodes are distributed and decentralized. Is the network peer-to-peer.
Why do people use peer-to-peer?
One of the main applications of p2p networks is file sharing, known to many via “torrents”. Download large files from the server usually slow and censored, as we have seen. But in p2p system, the Central authority is not, and therefore, even if one of the nodes dropping out of the race, will still have a lot. Plus, there is no censorship and standards of the Central system.
Immutability in the context of the blockchain means that once the blockchain information is entered, it cannot be changed. The reason for this is cryptographic hash function.
In simple words, hashing means that we take an input string of any length and make it fixed length. In the context of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, input transactions that are conducted through the hashing algorithm (Bitcoin uses SHA-256), which gives an output of fixed length.
Let’s look at how the process works hash. Take the SHA-256 (Secure Hashing Algorithm 256).
In the case of SHA-256, no matter how big or small you enter, the output will always have a fixed length of 256 bits. This is important when the data and transactions in a huge amount. Instead of having to memorize all the inputs, it is enough to remember the hash and keep track of it.
A cryptographic hash function is a special class of hash functions, which is ideal for cryptography in their properties. To a cryptographic hash function has been safe, it should have certain properties. But today we will discuss only one of them: the effect of the avalanche.
What does it mean?
Even if you make a small change in the input data, the hash changes will be huge. Even if you change the first letter of the input, output hash will change completely.
What is hash index? A hash index, as we found out, similar to a pointer, only contains a hash of the previous block in addition to the address.
Imagine for a moment that a hacker is attacking a unit 3 and tries to modify the data. Because of the properties of the hash function, any change to the data will change the hash. So any slightest change in block 3 will cause the hash of the block 2 will change, and so on. The circuit will change, and this is unacceptable. Therefore, to tamper with the information in the blockchain is impossible.
Now that we understand what a blockchain is, let’s examine its application in various industries.
#1. The use of the blockchain in the food industry
Food is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the applications of blockchain, isn’t it. But many of the major chains like Walmart together with IBM to incorporate the blockchain into its management system of food.
One of the most fundamental questions that we ask, absorbing any edible product, is: “Where did my food?”.
More and more people are becoming interested in the source of their food and this creates many problems not only for consumers but also for suppliers.
In October 2006, several States in the United States suffered a major outbreak of E. coli. The culprit? Spinach.
Affected about 199 people, including 22 children under the age of five years. 31 of these, 199 received kidney failure — gemoliticeski-uremic syndrome. Three of them died.
As a result, the entire food industry was plunged into chaos. The people desperately trying to track down the source of contaminated spinach. All the spinach on the market is immediately removed. The FDA took a total of 2 weeks to find the source of infection, and during this time of spinach at the market did not exist.
What was the source? Only one farm. One party.
Only one batch of spinach paralyzed the whole industry for two weeks. For two weeks the farmers left without means to continue the work.
All of this could have been avoided if there was a way to keep track of the spinach better.
Another question arises: “Should we keep better track of the food?”.
Is this the best that we can do with our food?
To track the movement of food, or to see all the data on it entirely every second?
As we have seen before, tracking food is a very slow process. Usually it takes a long time, during which entire industries and livelihoods can be stalled. What is the best way to handle it?
What if you could make transparent each step of the existence of a food (ripening on the farm until reaching the counter)?
What happens if you use the blockchain to store all records on food? Don’t forget that the blockchain is an open book, and all of its data are open to all and there is no Central authority that could intervene, or would bear responsibility. This greatly reduces the time that can be wasted on maintaining order. The presence of data in the blockchain will reduce the waiting time when retrieving data from weeks to a few seconds.
Walmart has already conducted two tests with IBM, one with Chinese pork and the other with a Mexican mango. Walmart and IBM used Hyperledger Fabric, blockchain, which was originally developed by IBM, and now is run by a group Hyperledger Linux Foundation. Frank Annas, Vice President for food safety at Walmart, spoke about the results of the tests:
“We were so excited, they very quickly began to turn to other suppliers and retailers”.
Because the blockchain is becoming more integrated in the food industry, he will make the entire process more transparent and secure. The advantage of the transparent food chain are numerous, for example:
- Is significantly increased food safety.
- All food will be fresh, because nobody dares to send “fresh” food in the open for all system.
- There will be less food waste because every morsel of food is accounted for.
- Manipulation of the food will not be because the system is open to all.
- Another advantage of an open system in that it imposes a responsibility on food producers, because they know they will not be able to pull off dirty deeds.
#2. The use of the blockchain in cybersecurity
7 September 2017 Equifax, one of the world’s largest agencies, consumer lending shocked the world when it was revealed that it was faced with a serious breach of cyber security. The attackers gained unauthorized access to the data from mid-may until the end of July 2017. Details of order at 145.5 million people were compromised, including:
- Social security number
- Date of birth
- Numbers driver’s licenses
But it’s certainly not the first time a well-known company is trapped in cybersecurity. In 2016, the search giant Yahoo! faced with a major attack and a billion accounts were compromised. The attacker got access to the following data:
- Phone numbers
- Answers to security questions
Unfortunately, this is not the first case of hacking a Yahoo, as the Internet is full of guides on “how to hack Yahoo”. Yahoo is such a foreign Mail.ru. Imagine how sad the company with maintaining data security if the Internet post guides on how to get them.
Conducted their own study, Verizon has revealed certain trends. It turns out that 65% of break-ins data is weak, default, or stolen passwords. This is a significant number, despite the fact that it is less than last year (95%). According to research, the main reason hacking is becoming the negligence of the people themselves.
From time to time people are exposed to phishing attacks and continue to “share” confidential data such as user names, passwords, and credit card information. 23% of people continue to open phishing emails, and half of them are even open attachments that come along with them.
If you want to know the true depth of this problem, think about it: cybercrime cost the global economy $ 400 billion per year.
And now the question is: how the blockchain could prevent the implementation of such attacks?
There are three important features that allow the blockchain to resist the attacks on cybersecurity.
Feature #1: trust the system
The system of the blockchain works without the concept of “human trust”. The system is independent of human ethics.
Feature #2: authenticity
Blockchain allows you to store data and protect them with different cryptographic properties, like digital signatures and hashing. One of the best features of this is that once the data is in the unit, they cannot be changed or faked.
Feature #3: decentralization and consensus
The blockchain is a decentralized distributed system. How it works, if it has no Central authority? The blockchain consists of many nodes. For any decision the majority of the nodes must reach consensus and make a decision. That is, instead of the Central power figures, we have a democratic system.
These three properties perfectly linked to cyber security.
Here some real examples blockchain-companies that are trying to enter the field of cybersecurity.
Example #1: Guardtime and mitigate cyber attacks in real time
Guardtime is a startup from Estonia, dealing with data security and cryptography by Estonian ATU Belgacom. They recently started to put their sensitive data in the blockchain for greater security. Most of the companies cyber security using PKI (Public Key Infrastructure), which uses asymmetric cryptography and cache public keys. The only problem is that these keys are supported by centralized organism (certified representative). And because the system is centralized it is vulnerable to attacks.
Guardtime creates on the blockchain KSI (Keyless Signature Infrastructure) to replace the PKI system. The company became the largest in the world blockchain company by revenue, headcount and actual deployment of clients. In 2016, all medical records Estonia were processed using Guardtime.
Example #2: REMME and data protection
As protect sensitive data?
Once the guardian of the treasure was a huge soldiers ready to kill anyone who tries to log in to a vault. But in such a system, obviously a lot of minuses.
Not very convenient to make the long journey to the store every time you need to access information.
Also rely on the fact that people will be honest. Agree, not the best security model.
Then we switched to logins and passwords.
But this is not the best option, because they are all stored in a centralized server and can be stolen at any time.
Therefore, REMME had the idea to make passwords a thing of the past. Each device will have its own SSL certificate, which will be stored on the blockchain. Because the blockchain can not be faked, the data stored in it will be unchanged. This means that all devices and sensitive data safe.
Cons of the use of the blockchain in cybersecurity
According to David TRITA leading practice blockchain in Accenture, although the blockchain is a great technology, it is not designed to work with massive amounts of data. As companies like Equifax to process huge amounts of data, the blockchain may not be the best solution for them. However, the blockchain can be useful in that it will give individuals exclusive control over their identity.
#3. Applications for a vote on the blockchain
Voting is the most important tool of a democratic state. It is this crucial factor makes the government working “for the people and by the people” managed. In fact, if not for the vote, the concept of “free country” could not exist.
The system of paper ballots has long been used by countries around the world. The concept is simple: you put your voice on a sheet of paper and place it in the ballot box. At the end of the election the votes are counted and whoever gets the most votes is the winner. However, like it or not, you may encounter many of the problems associated with traditional voting on paper ballots.
Problems of traditional voting using ballots
- This system is not automated and it is very slow. People stand in queue waiting for a free cubicle. All this requires a lot of time.
- The time required for counting, very long.
- Elections can be faked, sbrosiv the ballot box.
- Powerful authorities may use scare tactics to turn the vote in their favor.
- The volume of paper costs can harm the environment.
- There are no historical records about how and when he was given every vote.
- The cost of the service bulletins is very high.
- You can’t track your vote.
- After the vote, you can’t change your vote.
As you can see from system of paper ballots a lot of minuses. To overcome these problems was deployed digital voting system countries like Estonia. In fact, in this country’s digital ballot has been held since 2005. During parliamentary elections in 2015, 30.5% of the votes were cast digitally.
However, in this system there are problems.
First, on the client machine can get a virus that will cause the voice to be given to another candidate.
An attacker can directly infect servers with malware placed on DVD that is used to configure the servers and voice.
Although these problems are contested, the mere presence of a centralized server means that the system vulnerable.
The decision on the blockchain
Different companies use the blockchain and cryptography elliptic curve to bring voting into the 21st century. Their goal is simple: to make the voting process transparent. What is really going on with your voice? Nobody knows. As the integration of the blockchain is correct?
That’s the kind of solution offers the Follow My Vote. Any potential voter can securely log into the system using a webcam and a government ID. After the vote, anyone can use your ID to track the votes and correctness of their use. Moreover, your voice can be changed anywhere and any number of times.
To create the voices used elliptic curve cryptography (ECC). ECC is a form of asymmetric cryptography. It uses two keys (public and private) to encrypt and decrypt data. EEC is essentially the same as that used by Bitcoin and Ethereum in its cryptography. It is important not to disclose your private key and public key is publicly available address that can be shared indefinitely.
In the process of voter registration creates the two key pairs ECC. A voter shows his identity to the verifier that authenticates the first couple of keys. Upon completion, the voter registers of the second pair of keys anonymously, as belonging to the first pair. The first pair of keys is responsible for the identification, the second for voting.
Then the voter constructs a transaction that would essentially be his voice, and signs it with their personal private key of the voter. Once the vote has been cast, anyone can verify a valid signature or not, and to draw conclusions about the forgery of votes.
#4. The land registry
India sees the blockchain as a possible solution to their inventory problems. Fraud with the earth — one of the biggest problems of India.
In 2013, only in new Delhi were registered 181 cases of fraud with private property; in Mumbai — 173. For this reason, the government of Andhra Pradesh has partnered with Swedish startup ChromaWay to place land ownership and cadastre on the blockchain.
The execution will be simple.
The backend system will be on the blockchain, and the frontend web application. The frontend will display the overall performance of the system. ChromaWay will use its own database platform called the Postchain.
One of the most interesting innovations that they offer for cryptographic security, it is the digital fingerprint.
Here’s how it works:
- The geo-coordinates and polygon description of the earth hash.
- This hash is concatenated with the user ID and hashed again, and then to be added to the blockchain.
- Since the hash is always a unique value, everyone will have a unique ID. Because of the principles of the blockchain to fake records will also be impossible.
“The blockchain is the technology of the future, say the authors. — It will not only change our perception processes, but also has the potential to transform the economy. Of course, have yet to full explore the possibilities of this new technology.”
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