Blockchain

FRENCH
The whole point of using a blockchain is to let people — in particular, people who don’t trust one another — share valuable data in a secure, tamperproof way.” — MIT Technology Review

This MIT Technology Review statement is somehow tricky and can be considered as part of a half-truth. NOT all Blockchains are the same and simply using a “blockchain” does NOT guarantee by itself that we are in the presence of a tamper-proof solution. Usually, enterprise focused blockchains come with a ‘Blockchain hook’ for advertising, but in the background, they do not differ much from a traditional centralized database or any cloud service.

How is this possible? Let’s go through BLOCKCHAIN BASICS for some clarification, trying to keep definitions as simple as possible.

What is a BLOCKCHAIN?

  • A Blockchain is just a type of database where the information is structured in blocks and saved in different computers (nodes) at the same time (decentralized).

  • Is a type of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), that works with a peer-to-peer protocol connecting the different nodes.

  • Each node has the same information (with the same blocks).

  • This “decentralization” of the database (mirror copies) allows to verify if one is corrupt, has been modified or attacked.

  • Most Blockchains work on consensus basis, so if the majority of the nodes have the same information, the protocol assumes that the information they contain is the TRUTH.

So how secure is a Blockchain? As we mentioned, Blockchain TRUTH is created by consensus. The nodes agree what is true and what is not true. This gives as a hint that the answer will depend mostly on

  1. how many nodes exist.

  2. who control those nodes

Let’s imagine a situation where we create a Blockchain (or use an enterprise solution available on the market) and create a network with 3 nodes. For branding and commercial purposes, we are correct to announce we are using a blockchain solution, but the tamperproof of our system will be (at least) arguable. At any time, the solution provider (who owns the 3 nodes) can modify that Blockchain TRUTH as he can alter consensus when required.

The same occurs in companies that create consortiums or private Blockchains with special permits, where if the nodes (companies) agree on modifying or excluding information, the possibility is always available. So even this could sound attractive, no extra benefit will provide this type of Blockchain solution to a centralized database or cloud solution (where the owner or owners’ have control).

The unique trustworthy Blockchain networks are those that are made for public usage, and that the information is impossible (or more difficult) to be altered. Public blockchains work on an incentive logic that allows value to be stored on it. The two most important Blockchain networks that exist are Bitcoin (100.000 nodes) and Ethereum (8.000 nodes), and both suffer from thousands of unsuccessful daily attempts of modifying the information contained in the distributed database.

Authena operation is secured on Ethereum blockchain. However, Authena is blockchain agnostic and easily can be adapted to any blockchain protocol as they will be developed and proven reliable and safe.

Ethereum does not only function only as a currency, it permits the decentralized execution of smart contracts. For a general reference, a Smart Contract is probably neither Smart or a Contract, even the concept sounds techy an Smart Contract is a simple computer program that is saved and executed in a decentralized way (oversimplifying: each node/computer has a copy of the same computer program, eventually when we call for execution of that Smart Contract/program each node/computer runs it locally and simultaneously. After execution is finished in several nodes, each individual node obtains a result. Afterwards, the consensus protocol ‘EVM – Ethereum Virtual Machine’ defines that the correct result for the execution of that Smart Contract,  is the result that the majority obtained.).

This allows to Authena solution to connect directly to Ethereum blockchain and write in 8.000 computers simultaneously the evidence and life cycle of our secured products. Every interaction is timestamped and monitored by our deployed Smart Contracts (computer programs) in an autonomous way, creating a real digital Blockchain TRUTH that reflects what occurs in the physical world.

Selected as TOP PICK in the category blockchain at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin 2019