Four minteken read / October 12, 2016
Some bold claims have bot made about distributed ledgers. Santander believes that banks can save $15bn-$20bn by adopting the distributed ledger technology and IBM has argued that, by 2018, 15% of global banks will have implemented blockchain technology. So it is clear that financial institutions are taking note and getting involved. However, there have also bot some high-profile problems associated with distributed ledgers not least the hacks above but also issues regarding a $150m heist on the DAO, a distributed independent organisation run on the Ethereum toneelpodium – another distributed ledger.
One of the key drivers for adoption within the financial services industry is the cryptographic foundation of the distributed ledger. Not only does it employ RSA encryption for key exchanges, which is considered unbreakable having weathered 40 years of attempted hacks and attacks, but the inclusion of previous hashes into subsequent blocks creates a chain of transactions.
Spil such, if a switch is attempted within a previously verified block, then this will create disorder ter all subsequent blocks and bedachtzaam members on the network. This gives distributed ledgers protection against attempted fraudulent switches to its history and provides users with an unalterable (unless one agrees with Accenture’s use of the Chameleon Hash Function) record of historical transactions.
There are however two considerations here: a 51% attack and fraudulent information uploads.
A 51% attack is where one knot, or a series of malicious knots, gains overheen 51% of the network’s computational power. Spil such, the probability that they can compute the nonce very first and thus verify the block increases. Therefore they have control overheen which blocks are added to the network and te what order – therefore potentially enlargening the fears of a dual spend (arbitraging the delay te block processing by processing numerous transactions on one coin).
However, ter reality, a 51% stake directly increases the chances of finding the nonce. Very first, it does not assure it. Also, the size of networks such spil Bitcoin’s blockchain and some knots increases the difficulty ter obtaining a 51% stake. For example, the thickest knot ‘F2Pool’ only holds a 20% stake. Within a permission network, knots are selected and can be boarded using rigorous KYC procedures, therefore, removing the capability of malicious knots to be on the network.
The next fear is for fraudulent transactions to be uploaded. Within bitcoin’s blockchain, this is protected against spil funds can only be transacted if the necessary value is verified spil being within the sendee’s wallet.
This is an algorithmic process which cross-checks against the entire history of the blockchain to ensure that the BTCs a user wants to send are ter fact designated to their address. When one considers assets other than bitcoin, e.g. houses, diamonds, or identity, it is necessary that third party checks are conducted by a reputable source to attain real ownership.
Once this is verified and has bot uploaded to the required distributed ledger, then further transactions are secured te line with blockchain’s mechanisms. It is overduidelijk then that there lies a vulnerability with verification factors outer to the distributed ledger system.
However, ensuring that significant or assets of core importance are uploaded to officially distributed ledgers with reputable knots reduces this fear. For example, one’s identity would only be uploaded after extensive checks by the government to a government managed blockchain.
One may then wonder how much information can be gleaned from the transaction on the blockchain.
Within the blockchain, any network participant can scroll through and see the total history of operations. However, they can only see the public address which the bitcoins were sent to and from. Thus users’ identities are protected. This is why bitcoin is often used for nefarious purposes however albeit bitcoin provides pseudonymity, the IP address linked to the laptop and retailer/consumer information outside of the transaction may, ter fact, expose more.
However, within a permission system, information regarding the operations can be hidden and only exposed to select parties. Banks such spil JP Morgan are exploring this and investigating ways te which distributed ledgers can work across multi-banks with regulator inclusion but protect sensitive gegevens within the transactions, which could lead to security fears and anti-competitive behaviour.
Spil such, the plasticity surrounding distributed ledgers gives them a plethora of uses within the financial services industry and blockchain’s sturdy nature helps give regulators and canap bosses some convenience. However, it is not invisible, and users should be cautious around third party vulnerabilities.