According to Investopedia, the simplest definition of blockchain is "a digitized, decentralized, public ledger of all cryptocurrency transactions." It was originally developed as the accounting method for Bitcoin, the virtual currency. Cryptography secures the data as transactions, or completed blocks, which are recorded and added in chronological order, creating an indelible record. Each node (computing device connected to the network) gets a copy of the blockchain, which is downloaded automatically.
This means that the entire community, instead of a single centralized authority, can verify every record in the blockchain. No one person or entity has control over the history of each transaction, so no one person can go back and change records.
Implications for the Use of Blockchain
The blockchain algorithm was originally developed for Bitcoin and, according to ZDNet, "was driven by a radical rejection of (government-guaranteed) money and bank-controlled payments." By using a decentralized network of volunteer-run nodes, blockchain monitors and verifies Bitcoin transactions. This eliminates the inherent problem in electronic cash, which is Double Spend, and the network's algorithm ensures that each transaction is unique.
But can this encrypted transaction technology be used for anything besides digital money? "What Is Blockchain Used for Besides Bitcoin?" published on Forbes Tech highlights a few innovative ways that blockchain technology is being used:
- In 2017, the UN World Food Program sent over 10,000 Syrian refugees cryptocurrency-based vouchers for food, giving refugees direct access to donations and bypassing bureaucracy.
- Blockchain can act as a bank-like replacement for people without bank accounts. The fees that traditional financial institutions charge for transferring money to poverty-stricken areas can be very high. BitPesa is a platform that sends and collects crypto-payments between Africa and the rest of the world cheaply and more conveniently.
- Blockchain technology can be used to provide an un-hackable electronic voting system, eliminating electronic voting fraud.
- MedRec, an electronic medical records system, uses blockchain to create a decentralized content-management system for your healthcare data, across providers.
Blockchain and Cyber Security
According to an article titled "US Government Awards $2.25 Million to Blockchain Research Projects" on Coindesk, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) awarded $2.25 million in 2017 to three startups working with blockchain technology. Their initiatives include creating a "blockchain platform for multiple blockchains, applications and analytics." Another project is a "verifiable claims project," and the third business is researching "decentralized key management using blockchain."
These DHS grants are in addition to 2016 grants they awarded to four companies for the "applicability of blockchain technology to identity management and privacy protection." The DHS has also funded a nuclear research lab which is developing a bitcoin analytics tool.
The use of blockchain technology in the identity management and secure transaction area is a perfect fit. Blockchain solutions can enable users to establish and maintain trusted transactions with public and private organizations and ensure confidentiality and integrity.
An Online MBA in Cyber Security
UT Tyler offers a fully online Master of Business Administration with a Concentration in Cyber Security program. Students can complete the coursework in as few as 12 months, and there are multiple start dates each year.
This concentration provides a strong managerial foundation in which students review and analyze modern cyber security concepts through actual case studies.
Learn more about UT Tyler's online MBA in Cyber Security program.
Sources:Department of Homeland Security: News Release: DHS S&T Awards $1.3 Million to Small Businesses for Cyber Security Research and Development
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