In the last few decades, we have benefited from innovations on the internet such as email, social media, Big Data, mobility, cloud computing, and the start of Internet of Things. Blockchain technology, a unique and revolutionizing IT tech, is yet to become a buzzword but you are guaranteed to encounter it more and more in the next period of evolution of the digital age. Blockchain technology may not be a tactile innovation like a Smartphones but its impact is going to be more far-reaching that just being the data structure behind the most popular online currency, Bitcoin. Blockchain is the underlying technology behind Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies such as Ether (ETH), which works through a combination of decentralized encryption, anonymity and scale.
We live more of our lives on the internet now. We bank, shop, pay bills online. We access mobile apps and services that send information back and forth. All of this needs a secure and trusting environment in which to operate. What is the concept of blockchain technology, what can it do now and in the future?
What is Blockchain?
In our digital environment, there is confidential data that we don’t want accessed, copied, or tampered with, often being shared securely among many people. Blockchain technology has the capabilities to function as a fabric to record everything that happens online – any digital transaction, private data, exchange of goods and services, exactly as and when it happens. This data is then saved as encrypted blocks that contain the history of every block that came before it with time-stamped transaction data down to the second. These blocks are chained together and any iteration refers back to all previous iterations. These blocks are then distributed across a worldwide network or nodes in order to make it difficult to falsify data. Think of blockchain as a distributed spreadsheet that maintains a shared list of records and works as a backbone for the new internet.
It is not just the encryption that makes Blockchain’s security so strong, it is also because it’s decentralized. Blockchain technology uses a peer-to-peer network, where it is not necessary to ensure trust between participants in a transaction. That trust is rather guaranteed on the level of a single record instead of the party hosting it. Data in this shared transaction ledger of a blockchain can be viewable by anyone but can only be altered by only those privileged few with permission to do so. Every transaction is verified by miners through proof-of-work, POW, as they hash blocks together that then go into the ledger. With a blockchain there is no single point of failure from where digital assets can be hacked or corrupted. The decentralized network facilitates and verifies transactions and there is a secure record of the object’s history and modifications made all the way to the present time in the immutable ledger. There have been blockchain breaches and cryptocurrency thefts (Mt. Gox in 2014 and Bitfinex in 2016) but it was due to attempts at centralizing a decentralized system.
The Present and Future of Blockchain
The power of blockchain’s distributed ledger technology is finding applications across all kinds of digital record and transaction. As businesses begin to move to the digital “cloud,” blockchain is proving to be the bedrock upon which developers are looking to make products that are secure and globally accessible. Bitcoin and blockchain will continue to disrupt the way the increasingly interdependent global market functions. Blockchain applications are constantly being developed. For instance, Mojaloop, is a blockchain-inspired application to help citizens of developing nations get online access to funds and trade in the global marketplace. Even the Federal government has adopted Keyless Signature Structure (KSI) to replace digital keys for securely signing documents digitally. Blockchain technology has immense potential for secure end-user identification and verification. No wonder it is being used for everything from payment processing networks to land registrations, medical and insurance records and content delivery networks. Businesses can store individual credentials that cannot be falsified but can be easily and securely accessed as needed.
Blockchain And Web Hosting
In many ways, Blockchain technology will be at the forefront of IT security and the world as we know it. Someday in the future DNS providers will use blockchain to encrypt their services, safeguard user privacy and thwart future attacks. In its simplest form, the blockchain revolution will affect web hosting services in that services will be sold in local currency and also in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The newest versions of blockchain protocols will allow web hosting companies to get involved where parties have to enter into any form of contract, whether it is a bill or subscription. But more than that think blockchain-powered web hosting solutions that will change the way the internet works, if it can function at scale.
Traditionally, ‘hosting’ requires central servers and data-centers in high-tech warehouses that client devices (laptops, mobiles) talk to in order to process user requests, from connecting with friends on social media to making payments or for online shopping. With the rise of IoT, billions of people are coming online with new technology on every conceivable device. So this hub-and-spoke web hosting system will evolve with the help of blockchain technology, which works on a new decentralized network of multiple nodes around the world. Here you can store and compute as much data on client devices as central servers. This will lead to a much more robust and secure infrastructure and also increase the power and applicability of computation. Blockchain technology built SSL will keep sites extremely safe and help create a new standard for website safety and security. This will give you complete control of your data and it will ensure that your website is never taken down, no matter what. Blockchain is set to revolutionize and change the way people host their websites forever.
While all of this sounds encouraging, there are technological hurdles that must be scaled before there is widespread adoption of blockchain technology. Even though blockchain is in its infancy, early movers stand to benefit from it because blockchain and similar technologies is where the future will ultimately lead to.