The quantity of data produced is mind-blowing, over 2.5 quintillion bytes a day. The source? From 280-character tweets and hours of YouTube uploads, millions of Skype calls and hundreds of thousands of Instagram post. It is fair to say that the 21st century has witnessed an explosion in the amount of information produced and shared by everyone. But it is not the production and sharing which should concern people. Individuals, institutions, and governments should be more worried about how to design systems that will protect this data, like company information, military secrets, and personal information.
The blockchain is, thus, timely. It offers immutable data storage, top-notch cryptographic security, and the use of decentralised and distributed systems to prevent a small group of people from playing taking over the ecosystem, at least in a public blockchain setting. But is the blockchain capable of securing all the world’s data?
Situated to the south of Louisville, Fort Knox is the United States Bullion Depository, and stores a large amount of the country’s gold bullion, including bars and coins. These precious metals are protected by a 22-ton door and are further surrounded by a military base, with helicopters, tanks, concrete-lined granite walls, alarms, guards, and fortified fences adding to its security. Data is the gold of today’s tech-driven, interconnected world, but it cannot be protected by physical infrastructure. Instead, the blockchain can offer similar security to data that Fort Knox does to bullion.
Security Through the Crowd
Blockchain-based systems are distributed and decentralised. They are hosted on peer-to-peer networks and are continuously updated. Sadly for hackers, but good news for everyone else, blockchains are not stored in a single place, cannot be altered using a single computer, and do not have one, single point of failure. There is one weakness, though, the 51% majority attack, but decentralisation is only one part of the blockchain security’s prowess.
A blockchain comprises blocks of information that are joined by a chain. It is easy to see where it got its name from. Each block is a transaction and is connected to both the earlier block and the one after. To hack the system, each block has to be changed, which will also mean changing all the blocks that make up a particular blockchain. Though this might look simple and easy to accomplish, it is difficult and almost impossible. This makes the blockchain secure and provides an ecosystem where doing good provides better rewards than doing bad.
Security Through Cryptography
Cryptography is a key component of the blockchain technology. Cryptography is used to secure blockchain-based records and transactions. Members of a peer-to-peer network have unique digital signatures assigned to transactions made on a blockchain. Once any part of a record or transaction is altered, members’ signatures become invalid, notifying the entire blockchain of a breach.
The cryptographic, distributed, and decentralised nature of blockchain technology is needed to secure the over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data produced daily. The world is currently producing an insane amount of data, with about 3.5 billion daily searches processed by Google. Every minute, there are 990,000 Tinder Swipes, 600 new pages are edits in Wikipedia, and 510,000 comments are made on Facebook.
The importance of the blockchain technology, offered through cryptography and decentralisation is much needed to protect the 163 Zettabytes of data envisioned to be produced by 2025.
Everything that can be decentralized, will be decentralized
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