Blockchain technology, the same system that supports cryptocurrency transactions, may change the way security is handled on the Internet to better protect, for example, electronic medical records and online banking.
The “Introducing Blockchain” webinar, hosted by the IEEE Internet Initiative, provides an overview to the technology and how it could be used for a variety of purposes. The IEEE Internet Initiative is focused on blockchain because the system offers layers of security that are integral to protecting information from being altered and stolen, especially as more people handle money transactions and send private information from their mobile devices.
The webinar includes presentations by IEEE Senior Member Greg Adamson, chair of the IEEE Blockchain special interest group (SIG), and Jonathan Mohan, blockchain consultant and a founding contributor of Ethereum, an open-source blockchain computing platform.
WHY BLOCKCHAIN MATTERS
In the webinar, Mohan says there are nearly 2.4 billion people worldwide without access to financial services including brick-and-mortar banks. Blockchain can enable people to use their mobile devices to manage their finances—whether it be saving money or paying for a service—which could be made possible by using cryptocurrency instead of cash.
The system can be more secure than what online banking services use today because blockchain is a decentralized database made up of records, or “blocks,” linked to one another as a chain. Hackers would have to simultaneously compromise all the blocks that follow the one they want to alter, making it difficult—or nearly impossible—to modify past records. This is especially important for medical records, wills, and other documents that should not be altered without the consent of the owner.
A COUNTERINTUITIVE DESIGN
Viewers will also learn about the dilemma historically known as the Byzantine generals’ problem, which in this case is how to create trust in an environment where there is no reason to trust it. The counterintuitive aspect of blockchain is that the transparency on blockchain systems is what keeps it secure, Adamson says.
Will blockchain be a disruptive technology that will be adopted by other industries? The speakers share their predictions as well as ways to get involved with IEEE efforts on blockchain’s development.
IEEE Member Christopher Jannuzzi is the executive director of the IEEE Photonics Society and a member of the IEEE Internet Initiative.