What Is A Blockchain?
If youve been watching the news lately, you might have heard about something called a blockchain. Its a concept that makes data ultra-secure for specific uses. Youve probably heard it in connection with Bitcoin , but it has applications far beyond everyones favoritecryptocurrencies. Heres a quick explanation of how it works. RELATED: What Is Bitcoin, and How Does it Work? To understand blockchains, you need to understand cryptography. The idea of cryptography is far older than computers: it merely means rearranging information in such a way that you need a specific key in order to understand it. The simple decoder ring toy you found in your box of Kix cereal is a form of the most basic cryptographycreate a key (also known as a cipher) that replaces a letter with a number, run your message through the key, and then give the key to someone else. Anyone who finds the message without the key cant read it, unless its cracked. The military used more complex cryptography long before computers (the Enigma Machine encoded and decoded messages during World War II, for example). Modern encryption, though, is entirely digital . Todays computers use methods of encryption that are so complex and so secure that it would be impossible to break them by simple math done by humans. Computer encryption technology isnt perfect, though; it can still be cracked if smart enough people attack the algorithm, and data is still vulnerable if someone aside from the owner finds the key. But even consumer-level encryption, like the AES 128-bit encryption thats now standard on the iPhone and Android, is enough to keep locked data away from the FBI. The Blockchain Is a Collaborative, Secure Data Ledger Encryption is normally used to lock files so they can only be accessed by specific people. But what Continue reading >>
How Does Blockchain Technology Work?
Vote for CoinDesk's Most Influential People in Blockchain 2017 As stated in our guide "What is Blockchain Technology?" , there are three principal technologies that combine to create a blockchain. None of them are new. Rather, it is their orchestration and application that is new. These technologies are: 1) private key cryptography, 2) a distributed network with a shared ledger and 3) an incentive to service the networks transactions, record-keeping and security. The following is an explanation of how these technologies work together to secure digital relationships. Two people wish to transact over the internet. Each of them holds a private key and a public key. The main purpose of this component of blockchain technology is to create a secure digital identity reference. Identity is based on possession of a combination of private and public cryptographic keys. The combination of these keys can be seen as a dexterous form of consent, creating an extremely useful digital signature. In turn, this digital signature provides strong control of ownership. But strong control of ownership is not enough to secure digital relationships. While authentication is solved, it must be combined with a means of approving transactions and permissions (authorisation). For blockchains, this begins with a distributed network. The benefit and need for a distributed network can be understood by the if a tree falls in the forest thought experiment. If a tree falls in a forest, with cameras to record its fall, we can be pretty certain that the tree fell. We have visual evidence, even if the particulars (why or how) may be unclear. Much of the value of the bitcoin blockchain is that it is a large network where validators, like the cameras in the analogy, reach a consensus that they witnessed the s Continue reading >>
Securing Blockchain Technology With Hardware Security Modules| Futurex
Securing Blockchains with Hardened Encryption In the first of a two-part blog post dedicated to blockchain technology, we will explore the origins of blockchain and the general principles and cryptographic mechanics that make blockchain work. Blockchain was invented as a way to track and authenticate transactions for cryptocurrencies . Cryptocurrencies are an online form of digital currency that depend on cryptography to regulate the creation of currency and verify transactions. Cryptocurrency transactions occur on a peer-to-peer basis with no central regulating authority acting as an intermediary between sender and receiver. Part of the allure of cryptocurrencies is their decentralized nature, and lack of a central administrative authority to oversee and verify transactions. By removing the role played by the banks in traditional forms of electronic payments, cryptocurrencies allow users to exchange money directly with each other more quickly and without the exchange of personal information. However, this decentralization initially presented a quandary. With no banks or central authority to approve transactions and track balances, how could any currency be trusted? This is where blockchain comes into play. First created for use with Bitcoin , the most popular cryptocurrency, blockchain is a distributed-trust public ledger system. Blockchain depends on volunteer users or nodes to track, verify, and add transactions to a continuously updated ledger using encryption. Within cryptocurrencies, blockchains are maintained by nodes within the P2P blockchain network who use their own hardware resources to perform a process known as mining. Mining is the process of verifying transactions and adding them to the blockchain using encryption. Blockchain provides an inexpensive and Continue reading >>
What Is Blockchain Technology? A Step-by-step Guide For Beginners
What is Blockchain Technology? A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners Angel Investors, Startups & Blockchain developers... Is blockchain technology the new internet? The blockchain is an undeniably ingenious invention the brainchild of a person or group of people known by the pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto . But since then, it has evolved into something greater, and themain question every single person is asking is: What is Blockchain? By allowing digital information to be distributed but not copied, blockchain technology created the backbone of a new type of internet. Originally devised for the digital currency , Bitcoin , the tech community is now finding other potential uses for the technology. Bitcoin has been called digital gold, and for a good reason. To date, the total value of the currency is close to $9 billion US. And blockchains can make other types of digital value. Like the internet (or your car), you dont need to know how the blockchain works to use it. However, having a basic knowledge of this new technology shows why its considered revolutionary. So, we hope you enjoy this, what is Blockchain guide. The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value. Picture a spreadsheet that is duplicated thousands of times across a network of computers. Then imagine that this network is designed to regularly update this spreadsheet and you have a basic understanding of the blockchain. Information held on a blockchain exists as a shared and continually reconciled database. This is a way of using the network that has obvious benefits. The blockchain database isnt stored in any single location, meaning the records it keeps are truly public and easily verif Continue reading >>
Blockchain Cryptography Explained
A lot of people use cryptography on a daily basis without realizing it as many popular messaging apps use encryption. It is also one of the core aspects of blockchain technology. In this segment of the Lisk Academy we will provide a simple yet detailed explanation of cryptography, both symmetric and asymmetrickey cryptography. Cryptography is the method of disguising and revealing, otherwise known as encrypting and decrypting, information through complex mathematics. This means that the information can only be viewed by the intended recipients and nobody else. The method involves taking unencrypted data, such as a piece of text, and encrypting it using a mathematical algorithm, known as a cipher. This produces a ciphertext, a piece of information that is completely useless and nonsensical until it is decrypted. This method of encryption is known as symmetric-key cryptography. An early example of cryptography was the Caesar cipher, used by Julius Caesar to protect Roman military secrets. Each letter in a messages was substituted with the letter 3 spaces to the left in the alphabet, this knowledge was essentially the key that encrypted the message. Caesars generals knew that to decode the letters they only had to shift each to the right by three, whilst the information remained safe if intercepted by Caesars enemies. Modern cryptography works on the same level, albeit with far greater levels of complexity. The code base for most ciphers are open source projects, meaning their code can be examined by anyone. The most widely used cipher in the world called is AES, is free for anyone to use and its code is open to viewing by the public. As a result, it has been studied in considerable detail and to date no vulnerabilities have been discovered. This cipher is also used by th Continue reading >>
What Is Blockchain? 10 Experts Attempt To Explain It In 150 Words Or Less
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Plus Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Blockchain is being touted around the world as a disruptive technology that could revolutionize finance, trade, legal systems, digital media, and much more. But blockchain tech has one big obstacle: its hard to wrap your head around. To help laymen better understand blockchain, we reached out to Bitcoin experts around the globe. We issued each of them a challenge: explain blockchain in 150 words or less. As it turns out, even they can struggle to explain blockchain in simple terms. Blockchain tech is fairly complex, so condensing it down into a one or two paragraphs is no easy task. Comparitech took a stab at the challenge as well, but in video form. Here is our animated explanation of blockchain in less than 150 seconds. And here are 10 explainers from our gracious experts. Weve ordered them as best we can from simple and plainly worded to complex and thorough. The Blockchain is a decentralized ledger. In the same way the internet facilitates direct exchange of information (think Skype, WhatsApp vs. traditional telco model), Blockchain facilitates direct exchange of value between parties, without the need for a trusted intermediary. Drew Ivan, Healthcare Solution Strategist Blockchain is an immutable, public, distributed ledger that anyone can read or write. Heres a breakdown of what that means. IMMUTABLE data written to a blockchain can never be changed, so readers can be sure it was never altered. PUBLIC data on a blockchain is visible to everyone, which makes it perfect for storing public records like bitcoin transactions, land titles, and asset tags. DISTRIBUTED unlike a centralized ledger that is kept by a trusted institution, blockchain runs on an entire network of compu Continue reading >>
What Is Hashing? Under The Hood Of Blockchain
What Is Hashing? Under The Hood Of Blockchain Angel Investors, Startups & Blockchain developers... It is important to know how blockchain Hashing works. In order to do that, however, we need to first understand one of the core principles that go into blockchain creation. Blockchain technology is one of the most innovative and era-defining discoveries of the past century. Seeing the influence it has had over the last few years and the impact that it will have in the future, it surely isnt an exaggeration to say that. In order to understand how various cryptocurrencies like Ethereum and Bitcoin function. In simple terms, hashing means taking an input string of any length and giving out an output of a fixed length. In the context of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, the transactions are taken as an input and run through a hashing algorithm ( Bitcoin uses SHA-256 ) which gives an output of a fixed length. Lets see how the hashing process works. We are going put in certain inputs. For this exercise, we are going to use the SHA-256 (Secure Hashing Algorithm 256). As you can see, in the case of SHA-256 , no matter how big or small your input is, the output will always have a fixed 256-bits length. This becomes critical when you are dealing with a huge amount of data and transactions. So basically, instead of remembering the input data which could be huge, you can just remember the hash and keep track. Before we go any further we need to first see the various properties of hashing functions and how they get implemented in the blockchain. A cryptographic hash function is a special class of hash functions which has various properties making it ideal for cryptography. There are certain properties that a cryptographic hash function needs to have in order to be considered secure. Lets Continue reading >>
What Is Cryptography?
written by Jorn van Zwanenburg March 1, 2018 When researching cryptocurrencies , youve most likely come across the term cryptography. You might think cryptography is connected to cryptocurrencies in some way, and you would be correct. However, cryptography is used for far more applications, such as data protection, ATMs, computer passwords, and much more. In this article, we walk you through the basics of cryptography and discuss its role in cryptocurrencies. Cryptography is a method of hiding information to keep its content safe and secret. To uncover the information, the reader needs to know how the information has been modified, or encrypted. The encrypted message can, if properly done, be read only by the sender and the recipient. Cryptography is far from new and has been around for thousands of years. Historically, cryptography was used to send important messages which were only meant for a select set of eyes. The first cryptographic messages were found on ancient Egyptians sites, but the first evidence for cryptography being used strategically dates back to the Roman era. According to historians, Julius Caesar used cryptography, developing his so-called Caesar Cipher to send secret messages to his highest-ranking generals. This method of sheltering sensitive information from unwanted eyes has been used up until the modern era. During World War II, the Germans used an encryption machine called the Enigma Machine to send important information to their ranks. As with most cryptography, there was a way to crack it, which was discovered by Alan Turing (mathematical genius and namesake of the Turing Test), now seen by some as one of the most decisive turning points in WWII. The abovementioned Caesar Cipher, or the shift cipher, is one of the simplest ways of encrypting Continue reading >>
This Startup Is Using Blockchain Tech To Rethink Cyber Security In The Bitcoin Era
This Startup Is Using Blockchain Tech To Rethink Cyber Security In The Bitcoin Era I cover entrepreneurs and startups disrupting industries. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. Paul Puey serves as the CEO of Edge , a cyber security company that empowers individuals to take control of their own online data by developing the proprietary tools, software and systems needed to keep their information tightly secured. Experts argue that secure information should be housed at the edge of a network rather than in a centralized location. Following this approach, instead of relying on enterprise server security, edge-security first encrypts data from the user's device before it ever touches a network or server. Formerly known as Airbitz, Pueys first product launch was the Airbitz Bitcoin Wallet and Edge Security platform. The wallet was designed to help make Bitcoin easier and safer to use, delivering a progressive solution to contemporary security challenges. Since breaking into the market in 2014, the Airbitz Wallet has successfully secured millions of dollars in bitcoin. Following the proven effectiveness of their Edge Security platform, Puey packaged their security tools into a proprietary software development kit adopted by other developers for the purpose of enhancing the data protection of their own applications.Through the use of advanced client-side Blockchain encryption, the Edge Security platform eliminates large-scale data breaches, helping securely propel users into the emerging networks of the future. I spoke with Paul about the vision behind his company, rethinking cyber security, and how Blockchain solutions can prevent data breaches. What was the specific void or opportunity you spotted that inspired the idea behind Edge? Paul Puey: Edge was Continue reading >>
Blockchain Basics: How Is A Hash Different Than Encryption
Blockchain Basics: How is a Hash Different than Encryption Blockchain Basics: What ... Blockchain Basics: How is a Hash Different than Encryption When we talk about hashes, we are not referring to corn beef. In the Factom world and cryptography, in general, a hash is a one-way function. This means there is no cryptographic key that unlocks the data that has been hashed. Hash functions have been used for years to map data of any size to data of fixed size. This is critical because it allows us to secure a lot of information while only using a small digital footprint within our blockchain and others we anchor into for security. At Factom we also use hashes to secure large records (over 10kb) and private files or data. These go into the Factom blockchain as entries on a chain. We often refer to hashes as digital fingerprints of data because they allow us to prove that a file existed in a particular format at a given time without having to reveal the data in the file. We think this is cool and important to data and system integrity. On the other hand, encryption is a two-way function. With a cryptographic key, you can unlock or decrypt something that was previously encrypted. This allows you to access the original data with the proper key. We also encrypt data at Factom, but it's important to remember that once data is published to the Factom blockchain, it will live in the public's view for perpetuity. Encryption can and is often broken, so it is best only to publish hashes of private or confidential data. So to summarize, a hash is a one-way function and encryption is a two-way function. You can not derive the original data from a hash, only prove it existed. Encrypted data can be decrypted, revealing the information. Encryption has keys that unlock the data. Hashes do n Continue reading >>
How Safe Are Blockchains? It Depends.
Blockchain, the distributed ledger technology underlying bitcoin, may prove to be far more valuable than the currency it supports. But its only as valuable as it is secure. As we begin to put distributed ledger technology into practice, its important to make sure that the initial conditions were setting up arent setting us up for security issues later on. To understand the inherent security risks in blockchain technology, its important to understand the difference between public and private blockchains. Here are five basic principles underlying the technology. Each party on a blockchain has access to the entire database and its complete history. No single party controls the data or the information. Every party can verify the records of its transaction partners directly, without an intermediary. Communication occurs directly between peers instead of through a central node. Each node stores and forwards information to all other nodes. Every transaction and its associated value are visible to anyone with access to the system. Each node, or user, on a blockchain has a unique 30-plus-character alphanumeric address that identifies it. Users can choose to remain anonymous or provide proof of their identity to others. Transactions occur between blockchain addresses. Once a transaction is entered in the database and the accounts are updated, the records cannot be altered, because theyre linked to every transaction record that came before them (hence the term chain). Various computational algorithms and approaches are deployed to ensure that the recording on the database is permanent, chronologically ordered, and available to all others on the network. The digital nature of the ledger means that blockchain transactions can be tied to computational logic and in essence programmed Continue reading >>
Encrypted Messaging On The Neo Blockchain
Encrypted messaging on the NEO blockchain As you may know, transactions made on most blockchains are publicly available to everyone. Either by querying a NEO node directly via RPC, or by using a user friendly block explorer like NEOTracker or NEOScan allow you to browse transactions, balances, smart contracts and any other piece of data on the blockchain. However, sometimes privacy is a must have feature in certain applications. One example of this is messaging. If you want to send a message to someone else than you would obviously not want someone else to be able to read your message log which could expose sensitive information. In this article Ill show you the basics of how to perform encrypted messaging on the NEO blockchain. First lets look again at the anatomy of a transaction on the NEO blockchain. This is the basic memory structure of a transaction. When you send GAS or NEO on chain your wallet client will create this data packet and broadcast it to the network. If you are interested in reading more detail about creating a light client or transaction structure in general. Check out Andreis post. Creating a Light Client for Neo, a Blockchain Developers Gateway Drug Steemit For messaging we only care about the metadata following immediately after the input data. A relatively unknown feature of NEO transactions is that you can attach transaction attributes to any transaction. A transaction attribute is broad term that basically means additional data. So when you send any amount of NEO or any amount of GAS you can attach a message in the transaction attribute. Note: This Does Not Apply to NEP-5 Tokens So I can send 0.0000001 GAS to my friend and attach the message Hello. Although this seems like a trivial example, this message is something permanently store on the b Continue reading >>
Blockchain - Wikipedia
For other uses, see Block chain (disambiguation) . Blockchain formation. The main chain (black) consists of the longest series of blocks from the genesis block (green) to the current block. Orphan blocks (purple) exist outside of the main chain. A blockchain    originally block chain   is a continuously growing list of records , called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography .   Each block typically contains a hash pointer as a link to a previous block,  a timestamp and transaction data.  By design, blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data. Harvard Business Review defines it as "an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way."  For use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for validating new blocks. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires collusion of the network majority. Blockchains are secure by design and are an example of a distributed computing system with high Byzantine fault tolerance . Decentralized consensus has therefore been achieved with a blockchain.  This makes blockchains potentially suitable for the recording of events, medical records,   and other records management activities, such as identity management ,    transaction processing , documenting provenance , or food traceability .  The first blockchain was conceptualised in 2008 by an anonymous person or group known as Satoshi Nakamoto and implemented in 2009 as a core component of bitcoin where it serves as the public ledger for all transactions. Continue reading >>
How Blockchain Can Be Used To Secure Sensitive Data Storage
How Blockchain Can be Used to Secure Sensitive Data Storage Click to learn more about author Mary Ann Callahan. Data Security is no longer a luxury or an afterthought. With so much of our private, personal, and sensitive information being stored and transmitted online, tight security and privacy are now necessities for everyone. But, just as more of our lives are going online, we are hearing about more data breaches and hacks than ever. Here were going to take a look at how Blockchain technology can improve on current, centralized data security solutions, and help keep us safe and in control. Data is quickly becoming one of the most valuable resources in the world. The list of the top 10 companies by market capitalization is now dominated by data-centric companies like Facebook, Alphabet, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon. That value means your data, especially your sensitive data, is now a prime target for cyber criminals, and you probably arent as protected as you think. Even giant companies like Anthem , Target Corp, and Home Depot have had major data breaches over the last few years affecting hundreds of millions of people. Clearly, current solutions arent good enough to keep us safe. Cloud services often arent the solution either. As hugely centralized systems, they are more valuable targets still. You also need to trust a 3rd party to store your sensitive data for you, which for many companies often isnt desirable or even legal. A new solution is needed. Blockchain technology has been one of the major technological breakthroughs of this century. Bitcoin, the first Blockchain application, allows a network of users to perform transactions without requiring the trust of anyone on the network, or a third party. Everything is encrypted, and nobody can tamper with the Block Continue reading >>
How Blockchain Encryption Works: It's All About Math
How blockchain encryption works: It's all about math Riot Blockchain's CEO John O'Rourke explains how the blockchain encryption mining network works. Blockchain encryption prevents sensitive information from getting into the wrong hands, and being misused or forged. Riot Blockchain's CEO John O'Rourke explains how this encryption works. The blockchain ledger records every transaction that has ever taken place on that blockchain. That transaction gets verified, uploaded, and secured by anyone that's on that particular blockchain network, O'Rourke said. The way blockchain and encryption security works is based on math, through a mining network. "It's basically basing your faith in math vs. basing your faith in some other trusted party that could potentially be hacked," he said. SEE: Blockchain: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic) Anyone who is dedicated to securing the blockchain is incentivized by the currency part of the reward. Every transaction that is verified by solving an algorithm, if approved by a consensus of over 51% of the blockchain network, gets added to the blockchain. Once that transaction is added, it can never be changed. It's all about math, he said, and a reward system with the proper incentives put in place. People solve algorithms that essentially verify every transaction, and then it gets added to the blockchain. Any sort of system that's still relying on paper records is very antiquated, he added. "The blockchain allows all of that to be digitized, and secured with every single transaction on that ledger," O'Rourke said. Keep current with the latest IT security news by subscribing to our Cybersecurity Insider newsletter. Continue reading >>