Many digital systems around us collect the user data and preserve it in the data repository for later analysis and decision making. Moreover, some systems store data in centralized systems to provide a customized system to the users to perform operations. This approach is useful, as well as risky, and can invite numerous cyber-attacks.
- Security with Blockchain
- Updating/Adding data in the Blockchain
- Cryptographic Signature
- Decentralized System
- Recovery and Backups
- Types of Blockchains
For the last 5 years, worldwide companies have started to utilize a relatively new concept of a decentralized system known as a blockchain. Blockchain’s primary purpose was to protect the user data and secure the systems from cyber-attacks. It was introduced about a decade ago and gained popularity due to its ability to keep track of the complete system and provide transactions to show the history of even the most straightforward operation performed within the system.
At first, developers used blockchain to store and work with Bitcoins. However, as the system’s anomalies grew, and hackers found loopholes in the system, its demand rose to various industries such as business, healthcare, finance, banking, voting, advertising, and security.
Security with Blockchain
Using blockchain with software applications can help provide security to both users and the systems. There can be anonymous users in the system who can be recognized by the specific ids associated with them, generated by the system once the user is registered. After being registered, the system tracks the user’s activities. Once the user operates, it creates a transaction, which holds the record of the user id, the action performed, and the timing of that action.
Updating/Adding data in the Blockchain
Every transaction is unique, and a cryptographic hash/signature is generated and associated with it. The system then matches the transaction with chain code, a rule book indicating actions and restrictions a user can perform. The chain code resembles “if and else statements” in any code, allowing specified users to perform tasks. This matching approach helps manage the system’s security by discouraging unauthorized users while performing any vital actions.
Once the transaction is passed through chain code and is verified, it gets updated in the user’s ledger. A ledger is like a log in the database, which holds a record of all the transactions performed by the system or application. The most crucial thing regarding security in the blockchain is that every node/user holds a copy of the complete ledger, which means that it is entirely secure. Therefore, everyone can assess what other nodes are up to and sense when something is wrong by going through the records saved in the ledger.
An essential aspect of the secured system is that transactions in blockchain are immutable. Blockchain does not allow any user to alter the transaction or update the previous one and change anything. Even if a user tries to do so, the system denies it.
A well-structured blockchain keeps the data in blocks inter-linked using a cryptographic technique that creates the ledger.
Each block has a cryptographic/digital signature, which links it to the previous block, making it temper-proof. This ledger gets distributed, and everyone who has access can view and verify it anytime, eliminating the need and cost of involving third-party verification.
Moreover, the decentralized system means no higher authority has power over others and could manipulate the records. Only the authorized authorities in the system can perform actions such as adding a user to the system or seeing recorded data from the system. These operations are recorded in the form of a transaction in the append-only ledger to maintain security standards.
Recovery and Backups
In the past, backups and recovery systems were only crucial for big enterprises and companies because of the high cost associated with them. However, in the modern era, where every small business is getting digital, backup systems have become necessary for everyone. Moreover, with the business shifting their means, criminals have also shifted to digital space and employ every means to interrupt businesses’ daily workflow, such as DOS attacks and DDOS attacks. In these scenarios, companies may need to shut down their regular systems and rely on backups to provide unhindered services to the customers.
Blockchain protects the data from DDOS attacks by distributing the data to many nodes, making it almost impossible for the attacker to access and change every chain node. In addition to ensuring that the data is reliable and secure, blockchain offers many ways to recover the previous data. The recovery systems often have the following features:
- Copies the whole updated file to the backup storage in real-time due to which the uses can recover even the most recent changes in the system.
- Only copies the updates to the backup, not the whole file, to save time and space.
- Remove the duplicate data from the backup storage to make more space.
- Makes sure that the backup data and the original data are the same.
Types of Blockchains
As the businesses vary in their needs, blockchains vary in their range and solutions. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that the user’s purpose matches the type of blockchain. These are the three primary types of blockchains:
1. Public Blockchain
As the name suggests, this blockchain is entirely public, i.e., open-source. The blockchain transactions are transparent, and anyone involved in the process can access and view them. Companies use this blockchain to design a decentralized system with no high authority. Ethereum and Bitcoin are the most common example of the public blockchain, and anyone can view and use it without revealing their identity.
2. Private Blockchain
Unlike a public blockchain, a private blockchain is a permission-based blockchain, which gives access to only permitted individuals. The systems based on private blockchains are less decentralized than the public blockchain systems. Moreover, each participant has granted authority based on his security clearance or rank. Companies utilize this approach to protect their sensitive data and transactions to avoid their public visibility. A well-known example of a private blockchain is Ripple (XRP). Therefore, only permitted users can become a part of it, which makes it safer than Bitcoin.
3. Hybrid Blockchain
A hybrid blockchain is an amalgam of both the above blockchains. It utilizes the transparency concept of the public blockchain and the security of the private blockchain. This approach gives companies the freedom to decide what should require permission and what should be publicly available. Dragonchain is an excellent example of a hybrid blockchain that allows enterprises to have a multi-chain network of blockchain.
Although the invention of cryptocurrency made blockchain technology known globally, it does not limit itself to it. However, as it is a newly emerging technology, many researchers are working on broadening their horizons to become aware of future possibilities associated with this technology.
Overall, innovative systems based on blockchains are becoming widely popular. This can be extremely useful to boost digital security and make the internet world safer.