March 18, 2020
New technology requires new solutions. A major issue has been how people can create secure systems, while still maintaining the advantages modern technology provides. For example, as more devices become “smart” (that is, capable of connecting to the internet and using internet applications), they’ve also become more vulnerable to hackers. One possible solution experts have considered is Blockchain, taken from cryptocurrency. This has been designed from the ground up to focus on security, whereas so much of other technological advances deal more with being faster, smaller and cheaper. This is why so many companies are focused on artificial intelligence (AI).
Nonetheless, let’s consider what Blockchain is and what it can do for a world that's constantly advancing in the various technology fields.
To understand Blockchain, the best way is to simply think of a ledger. Participants of the asset or item being monitored all have a copy of the ledger and know its current state at all times.
As Tech Talks defines it:
“Changes to the ledger are made through consensus among the participants. When someone wants to add a new record to the Blockchain ledger, it has to be verified by the participants in the network, all of whom have a copy of the ledger. If a majority of the nodes agree that the transaction looks valid, it will be approved and will be inserted in a new ‘block’ which will be appended to the ledger at all the locations where it is stored.”
This has been used primarily with cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin. The main reason that it was developed was to obviate the need for a central authority to oversee transactions. The entire point of cryptocurrency was to eliminate authorities entirely – no governments or laws govern how Bitcoin is distributed since its entire purpose is to operate without middle-men (like banks). Some experts have proposed banks themselves can learn from Bitcoin, instead of viewing the system as a threat.
However, the focus should be on Blockchain and how it can be implemented in other ways.
Two of the most exciting advances in tech is artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). AI deals with that area of computer science aimed at creating machines which can think as well as people, solving unique problems in unique ways. The Internet of Things is, as Forbes summarizes “the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other).”
The Internet of Things provides ample opportunity for hacking and cyber security breaches to occur. Hackers can use vulnerabilities in a range of devices to reach other, more important servers, computers and so on. For example, someone can hack your cellphone so they can find their way on to your business’ network. Many have noted that not enough is being done with devices that form the Internet of Things to protect them. Experts have suggested that Blockchain can be a solution. This is because the system allows for various nodes to be filled by specific devices, preventing outside interference and manipulation.
As VentureBeat notes: “Blockchain technology will enable the creation of secure mesh networks, where IoT devices will interconnect in a reliable way while avoiding threats such as device spoofing and impersonation.”
Hackers can’t say, for example, clone a device that has been authenticated on the Blockchain. After all, once it’s on the network, another one appearing simply won’t be able to connect, or will be flagged as suspicious.
Creating such advanced Blockchain systems is hard, which is why some institutions like Google are considering AI. Google’s DeepMind wants to use Blockchain in their healthcare initiatives, monitored and improved with machine learning and AI. Machines can calculate much faster than people and, considering the stakes, this is what most of us would want.
If you want to know more about Blockchain, consider our article which outlines what precisely it is and why it matters in today’s world. All of these advances in tech will eventually become commonplace, but it is important for business people to know what they mean today.