Blockchain, at root, is a distributed database in which individual transactions are verified across a peer-to-peer network of nodes. As such, it is a method of storing, managing and maintaining sets of information with great potential.
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It is used most prominently in digital currencies such as Bitcoin, but any application that requires confidentiality and integrity of data can potentially benefit. So, storage applications could be prime use cases for Blockchain.
In this podcast, Computer Weekly storage editor Antony Adshead talks with Vigitrust CEO Mathieu Gorge about why Blockchain is important right now and what its potential for storage of critical digital assets is.
Computer Weekly: What is blockchain and why it it important right now?
Mathieu Gorge: I think you’ve all heard about digital currencies like Bitcoin and Litecoin and Ethereum. We need to be careful not to confuse digital currencies and Blockchain.
Digital currencies are an application of Blockchain, which is the underlying technology that allows you to decentralise a number of mission-critical solutions or actions that we normally perform.
So, if you look at payments and money as opposed to what’s known as having fiat money that is underwritten by central banks, we now have decentralised money which is essentially managed by the community that provides the technology.
What we need to understand is that we can have many other decentralised services on top of blockchain. Some of them could be around authentication, managing health systems, internet of things and any type of information or services that we use currently on the web.
But Blockchain allows you to do a lot more than decentralisation. If you look at the old security adage around confidentiality, integrity and availability, Blockchain is a good system to manage confidentiality and the integrity of data – although it doesn’t do much for availability.
Computer Weekly: What are the implications of Blockchain for storage strategies?
Mathieu Gorge: Right now, we store a lot of information on public, private and hybrid clouds. We rely on the providers, whether internally or externally, to guarantee the confidentiality, availability and integrity of the data.
As I said earlier on, Blockchain doesn’t add much value with regards to availability. That’s not what the technology provides. But it does provide confidentiality – especially with integrity. Every transaction that happens on a Blockchain-based technology is recorded in the ledger and is technically immutable, so we’re currently seeing Blockchain being used for digital wallets to manage your Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethers and any other type of digital currency based on Blockchain.
We’re also seeing the emergence of digital votes. This would be the equivalent to a safety deposit box in a bank where one of the keys is with you and one is with the provider, and the bank doesn’t actually know what’s in the box.
There are some new technologies out there that allow you to provide that. The idea is that you can protect your critical digital assets, store them securely and manage all the transactions based on Blockchain.
You can therefore imagine you might store your wills, intellectual property, personal information and anything you would need in case you need to leave your house in the next two minutes and know everything is going to be destroyed.
So, what are the critical digital assets you would like to have stored on the cloud, and how would you like that information to be fully preserved in such a way that you know it hasn’t been tampered with?
This is one of the new applications we’re seeing with Blockchain. And I believe that over the next two to three years a lot of governance risk compliance tools that allow you to manage evidence from the business perspective – and also banking technology that allows you to manage your life insurance or equivalent – will essentially be underwritten by Blockchain-based systems that allow you to guarantee the integrity of your data.
I would therefore recommend everyone watches that space and gets with the programme to make the most of the new technology.