What future for the technology behind blockchain?
Blokchain seems like technology from the future described in science fiction. However, not all the potential of this technology is realized now. In the future, with the help of distributed databases, it will be possible to implement the most daring initiatives – for example, to ensure fair elections on the Internet. Moreover, it is not just fantasies: there are already many projects and blockchain products on which one way or another you can guess the possible future of technology. We will tell you what scenarios the blockchain without cryptocurrency can develop.
Refusal of MiningProblem.
Bitcoin and most of the crypto currencies that appear after it to generate new blocks use the proof-of-work scheme. Its main drawback is the waste of huge resources. Generation of new blocks is a competitive process. Since one of miners has been succeeded in creating such block, the whole team have to start its work from the very beginning. All previous calculations become meaningless. According to some estimates, by 2020, bitcoin miners will spend as much electricity as the inhabitants of a small European country like Denmark consume; already now they spend more energy than all Icelanders do.
To get rid of this problem, the developers of blockchains proposed several alternative schemes for generating new blocks. Proof-of-stake: the right to generate a new block is received by users who store cryptocurrency in the form of a deposit or deposit that they can`t spend any time. The more you block its own funds, the higher your chance to earn. The second most popular cryptocurrency Ethereum plans to begin using the proof-of-stake scheme in 2018. In the Proof-of-burne scheme, the probability of continuing the chain depends on how much currency you have destroyed or transferred to an address to which no one has access. Simply put, to make cryptocurrency, you first have to part with the old one. For example, in 2014, participants in the decentralized exchanger CounterParty received a start-up capital in the system, burning their bitcoins. Proof-of-capacity: the currency is charges for using the space on the user’s hard drive. Examples include the SpaceMint and Permacoin projects.
Some Western countries are beginning to use electronic voting in elections and referendums. Theoretically, this step should increase voter turnout: you can vote from home at any convenient time, having spent a minimum time for the entire process. However, someone can try to hack such system. Due to the complexity of e-voting protocols, potential computer errors and hacker attacks, the election commissions in Kazakhstan (2011) and the Netherlands (2008, 2017) returned to paper ballots, ballot boxes and manual vote counting.
Elections using blockchain technology solutions are similar to the usual deal in the crypto currency. Citizens receive special colored coins from the election commission, which transfers to one of the special accounts associated with one or another candidate. To determine the winner, it is enough to check the accounts after the election is over. Since a public blockchain can be analyzed by anyone, each user can track his voice. Moreover, in order to ensure that the members of the election commission do not brake the voter’s anonymity scientists suggest distributing colored coins with the help of technology «blind signatures».
Irrevocable domain nameProblem.
The Domain Name System (DNS) allows users to visit sites without knowing their IP addresses. But sites do not own these names – the domain name of the site can be selected under a variety of pretexts. The torrent tracker The Pirate Bay, the WikiLeaks project, the Russian library Flibusta were held through this procedure in different times.
With the help of a blockchain technology, you can create a censorship-resistant domain name system. The user can either mine or buy a special crypto currency and spend it on registering a site in a special domain zone (like .bit in Namecoin, .p2p in KeyID, .nxt in NXT). In the transaction, the specific name will be bound to its IP address. Instead of an IP address, you can use the address in the Tor network (it’s usually hard to remember), b32.ip-address in anonymous I2P network or any other similar one. Only the owner can change this address. To take a domain name forcibly no one can – just do not forget to renew the registration. While such projects have not received wide support, so in order to get to the site with this name, you need to find and connect to a DNS server that can work with a particular blockchain and which you trust. Alternatively, install or configure your own (for example, DNSChain).
Protection against a targeted attack
If a hacker is not interested in any potential victim, but specifically you (your device, data, contacts), he can try to implement a targeted attack. Even if your computer is securely protected, an attacker with good connections can try to hack your computer through the installation of updates. Together with the new version of the program, malicious code will be installed or simply launched. Through the system of updating the Ukrainian accounting program, for example, the extortion virus Petya was distributed. (True, this attack was not targeted – an infected update was sent to all clients.)
You can detect such attack by comparing the downloaded update on the network with what other users have received. If it turns out that you have downloaded another file, this is an excuse to sound the alarm. In the public detachment you can store information about the programs installed by users. If the hash value of the package you downloaded matches the hash sums of other users, everything is fine. For now there is only a prototype of such protection users repository for the Arch Linux distribution.
Archives that cannot be faked
The date and time of creation, modification or last access of files stored in our computers is easy to falsify. It is just sufficient to move the system clock back on the computer and perform the necessary operations. This problem exists even for those who think about security and use information encryption systems. In asymmetric encryption, the owner of a private key (used to decrypt messages or create a signature) in case of loss or theft can revoke his keys – in this way his interlocutor understands that if the message is signed with this key, he faced the attacker. The problem is that the hacker can easily bypass this restriction – to create and sign the message retroactively. Finally, it is necessary to establish the exact time accurately in the course of investigations or legal proceedings.
The OpenTimestamps project suggests using blockchain system to store information that will allow proving that a particular file was created not later than a certain date. When the deal is conducted, you can write down a line with the hash sum of your file in the transaction(it will be impossible to calculate it for a non-existent object). Each block records the date of its creation. It is almost impossible to change or forge this timeline. Another question is that due to the low bandwidth of most blockchains (especially bitcoins), writing a hash of just one file per transaction is very inefficient. Therefore, OpenTimestamps uses Merkle tree hashing: information about individual files is stored in an external database, and only the total hash sum is recorded into the block. Thanks to this technology, in the spring 2017, in only one transaction in bitcoin, there was recorded information about 750 million files stored in archive.org web archive.