Each day seem to bring a new story on a data security breach or unfortunate hacking. One solution is to use a blockchain data storage, which is more secure than a typical cloud that gets stored on a centralized database. Blockchain has a few advantages over the traditional cloud data storage as the technology makes it so that hackers are not able to target blockchain storage accounts as easily or invisibly.
It is also difficult for a potential hacker to be able to access large amounts of data via the blockchain because unlike traditional storage, blockchain’s data is spread out along the chain instead of being put together on one storage space. To discuss these issues, Digital Journal spoke with blockchain expert Shidan Gouran, who is the President and COO of Global Blockchain Technologies Corporation. Shidan is an investor in and advisor to a number of financial technology and blockchain startups. He mined his first Bitcoin in early 2010 and has been involved with cryptocurrencies ever since.
Digital Journal: How serious are cybersecurity risks for businesses?
Shidan Gouran: Cybersecurity risks are very serious for businesses, because they can be very costly and incur much liability in the event that such risks actually materialize. Now that peoples’ whole identities and sensitive financial or health data resides on computers, the risk of it being accessed by hackers does exist, putting businesses in a vulnerable position as attacks to steal this data become more sophisticated.
DJ: Why are businesses and individuals vulnerable?
Gouran: Businesses are vulnerable because there are consequences for either business information (e.g. source code for software) or customer information (e.g. names, addresses, etc.) falling into the wrong hands, which can happen with a cyber attack. Individuals are vulnerable because if their data gets stolen in a breach, their privacy is at the mercy of whichever hacker has taken that data.
DJ: Where does most hacking originate from?
Gouran:Based on a study by Deutsche Telecom of more than 30 million attacks, most hacking originates from Russia, accounting for nearly 8% of hacks in that study. Taiwan came next, at 3.01 percent.
DJ: Can technologies like blockchain help?
Gouran:Absolutely. The main theme of blockchain computing compared to other forms of computing is that it’s decentralized. Centralized systems make data breaches possible because with just a single point of vulnerability, it only takes the incompetence or irresponsibility of one person to “leave the gates open”. For example, in Equifax’s data breach, one of the databases had the default username/password combination of “admin”. It’s not hard to see how that could have been the oversight or negligence of just one person.
When a blockchain is used to underpin login methods, there is no single action of any person or entity that can compromise the security of an access method to data. The only exception to this is in the case that a person or entity is to control a certain amount of control of the blockchain in what is known as a 51% attack. But new paradigms in blockchain computing will eventually take this from extremely difficult (where it is now) to impossible.
DJ: Are blockchain solutions better than cloud-based solutions?
Gouran:In theory, they definitely are. When data and control are decentralized, it’s a lot more secure than solutions like cloud – which do have a centralized component. As we all know, “centralized” translates to “vulnerable” in modern cybersecurity speak.
DJ: Are blockchains infallible?
Gouran:No technology is truly infallible. Blockchains remain fallible in that the possibility of things such as a 51% attack still do exist. Blockchains also rely on a critical mass of computing power in order to operate. Further, blockchains are a relatively young technology that has not yet fully been put to the test of enterprise and government tasks. So while blockchains are not infallible, the theory behind them is virtually infallible – and as the technology becomes perfected, this will become more and more true in reality.
DJ: Which sectors is this most likely to appeal to?
Gouran:Blockchains are likely to appeal to any sector that deals with sensitive data. Essentially, this could be any business (since data such as credit card information for payments is sensitive). But it is especially so for government entities, and businesses in healthcare, finance, law, and pharmaceuticals.
DJ: Which companies are developing successful blockchains?
Gouran:At Global Blockchain, we are developing blockchain solutions for a number of different business applications – to include asset exchanges, trade finance in the supply chain, and P2P computing. These are all being built in partnership or collaboration with major state actors and major corporations. Other companies such as IBM are also building blockchains that have seen success to date.
DJ: How expensive are these solutions?
Gouran:It depends on what they’re being used for. As an example, the P2P computing solution that we are building brings shared computing resources to clients at less than 50% of the cost of cloud solutions. Absent the administrative and infrastructural costs of more traditional computing solutions, blockchains are much more efficient from a cost perspective, and thus can uniformly be viewed as relatively inexpensive solutions when compared to their alternatives.