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Internet Security Is One of the Biggest Problems

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Security on the internet is one of the world’s biggest issues that people face daily. Everyday computers are being accessed by rogue users who can steal or manipulate data. Pioneers in the technology world initially created blockchain for use in a bitcoin ledger, but it was conceptualized many years prior. Blockchain is an up and coming type of data protection that will go on to help protect user data. While blockchain was initially used in the transfer of bitcoin, it has started to be slowly adopted by other industries. Blockchain’s purpose is to help preserve user data and eliminate tampering in order to better guarantee authenticity and promote online services.

The forerunner for blockchain was first conceptualized in 1991 by Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta. They came up with the initial idea of a cryptographically connected set of blocks chained together. This system was intended to make a security system that could not easily be hacked. It was not until 2008 that the first blockchain was truly implemented. A mysterious individual named Satoshi Nakamoto posted online the details of a new type of peer to peer transaction called bitcoin. This invention of bitcoin was revolutionary on its own, but along with the release of bitcoin emerged the first recorded usage of blockchain technology. In Nakamoto’s paper ‘Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System’ the words blocks and chains are both heavily mentioned, but it was not until 2016 that the term “blockchain” was officially used. Blockchain first appeared in an online ledger the recorded all the transactions of bitcoin. At its core blockchain is essentially a clump of data, also known as a block, that is linked together in a sequence, also known as a chain. “Data storage on the blockchain is secured by cryptographic hashes in which data being hashed return a fingerprint that verifies the authenticity of the data. Alteration of the original data causes the hash of the altered data to no longer match the original fingerprint.’ (Beck, 2018). These transactions are then contained inside to blocks. From there each new block added to the chain contains data from the block before it creating a chain of data blocks.

If someone were to try and change any of the information contained in the block they would have to go through each individual block and tamper with the data, but since the chains are usually very extensive it would be impractical to attempt it. The biggest factor in why blockchain is necessary is that it is decentralized. That means that it operates on a peer to peer system, which makes sure that there is no central body who controls and manages all of the operations occurring. Blockchains are stored on a heavy network of computers and if someone were to tamper with a block on one computer it would reject the changes since the change would not be the same as the rest of the network. For example, in the case of cryptocurrency, it is decentralized so the ledger that contains every transaction is recorded on every version of the ledger so no one person can control every aspect of it. Blockchains continuously grow as more blocks are created and make it incredibly hard to change the data.

Blockchain may have started as a ledger for cryptocurrencies, but it has evolved to operate in numerous other fields. Technology like blockchain cannot simply be contained in one field of operation but should be implemented in systems across the globe. One particular field that blockchain will revolutionize is the patent process. Currently, hundreds of patents for blockchain technology have been filed, but the technology itself will help change to the process of obtaining a patent. Blockchain has proven that it ‘is wonderful at resolving disputes over ownership, fractional ownership, first to file, and first to invent’. Since there are numerous disputes over patents and who filed them first, blockchain can step in and have empirical evidence of who was the first one to file. It will cut out all the tension over disputes and streamline the process.

Beyond simply keeping files for patents there are also many other uses, such as in the financial industry. Financial records are incredibly important and if mistakes are made in them they could have dire effects on the parties involved. Through the use of blockchain, tampering can once again be eliminated. Keeping track of stock purchases is one of the biggest potential uses. By using this tech, people could essentially cut out the middleman in these kinds of transactions. Transactions can now be between two entities and greatly speed up the process of actually completing the transaction. Blockchain is something that is here to stay, over the next few years it will improve and evolve to be used in countless industries from education to health care.

While Blockchain has many positives that do not mean it is a perfect system. Like every early form of technology it has its issues, but many of them are being addressed and worked on. The biggest issue blockchain technology faces are its anonymity currently. ‘By enabling so-called decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), blockchain empowers participants to implement agreements and transactions, without being their own legal entity. DAOs make transactions transparent to DAO members, which in turn makes fraudulent behavior difficult to hide.” (Beck, 2018). Human greed will always play a factor in transactions, which is why governments have laws in place to make sure punishments are given out for doing sketchy business. In a completely decentralized system with no administrator fraud can easily be committed as the cost of one of the users. Blockchain encourages its users to put trust into the system instead of a third party. Fraud has occurred since the inception of bitcoin and a blockchain system can be created out of bad intentions. “Among the high profile cases is Oncecoin – recently revealed as a ponzi scheme which is believed to have robbed millions from investors who believed they were getting in early on what would become the next Bitcoin”(Marr, 2018).

In theory, this is not bad, but in the future, we will see if this problem has any major effects in the future. Another primary issue with blockchain technology is its complexity. A huge factor that is preventing its implementation worldwide is that it is not the easiest concept to grasp. People who do not deal with blockchain in their daily lives are going to be less likely to adopt it. Change is inevitable except in a vending machine, but change is also a very terrifying thing which will lead to a very slow adoption process. In addition to its complexity, blockchain transactions also take significantly more time to process compared to payment methods like debit cards or PayPal which are instant. It may be safer to use blockchain, but it is a trade-off for time. A blockchain transaction may take several hours to complete and as blockchains grow larger and larger the transaction times may increase, but in the future engineers may be able to fix this issue.

The largest ethical issue that blockchain has stemmed from the amount of computing power it takes to operate one. Operating bitcoin costs a significant amount of computing power “last year it was claimed that the computing power required to keep the network running consumes as much energy as was used by 159 of the world’s nations.”(Marr, 2018). In a world that is heavily fearing the beast that is climate change, blockchain technology could potentially raise the use of electricity across many areas. However, small scale blockchain used in offices and other workplaces will never use the same amount of computing power that cryptocurrency uses, it is still important to take energy consumption into consideration. People could potentially be outraged over the use of computing power compared to the clear advantages this system has.

Security is what blockchain exists to protect. Since blockchain is run over a network of computers it is almost impossible to tamper with that data since it is copied to every computer in the network it runs on. For one person to alter data they would have to alter over fifty percent of the blocks in the chain which is nearly impossible due to all the unique hatches and fingerprints involved. Theoretically, this is possible, but it would be an enormous task to individually change each block in a chain plus chains are constantly growing as new blocks are added creating a further layer hacker would need to get through. Blockchains are created to keep information and data from being tampered, therefore the security risks are very minimal.

The internet is one of the biggest things in our world and helps define and remold the current cultures that we all live in. Culture is something that affects everyone and is prevalent in technology as well. Blockchain may never truly change the culture we experience on a regular basis, but it will have some minor effects. In the video game culture, games are starting to use blockchain technology as part of their operating system. While this is very minor and only used in a few video games out there, it could grow into a major thing and used to help create stories and experiences for avid video game players. A different perspective on the blockchain is that it has complexity issues and will struggle with adoption worldwide. Socially not everyone is as interested in the system compared to others who work with computers daily. Implementation of it could lead to mass confusion since it is intended to eliminate third parties. Without a third party involved the average person may not know every consequence of their actions or transactions.

Since blockchain is still such a young technology there is still countless research and experiments that need to be conducted in order to craft it into a better system. It is currently being worked on in many different forms. A significant amount of patents have been filed for blockchain technologies across the world to be used in all kinds of industries. It is too early to tell if blockchain will fail or become used universally and it will take a significant amount of time to properly implement. Until then it will be tweaked and customized to fit different aspects of business and life. Companies like IBM have started departments just to research the viability of this new technology. Overtime blockchain will be tweaked and tampered until it can have a wide implementation.

At the end of the day, blockchain is still in its adolescent phase and will most likely remain there for a significant amount of time. Currently, we are seeing it primarily used in cryptocurrency transactions, but it is only a matter of time before it can be used in industries such as education, healthcare, finance, and regulations. This innovative form of privacy and peer to peer transactions has to potential to cause a significant change in our global environment, but that is only up to the public and being able to embrace this new technology with open arms.

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