A blockchain technology is a cryptography based security solution which is capturing a growing record list . The blockchain technology is the most used technology in the crypto-currency field. For the business purposes, blockchain is also used, but this type of blockchain is a private type of blockchain. There is also some marketing type of blockchain is available which is known as the “snake oil” . The blockchain technology was developed by the Satoshi Nakamoto in the year of 2008. The growing list of records is also known as a block. Each of these blockchains holds a cryptographic hash of the previous block, the transaction data and a timestamp. The transaction data of each block can be presented as Merkle tree root hash. The design of the blockchain is making it resistant to the data modification events. In this article, the overview of the blockchain technology and the use of blockchain in network application management will be discussed. Further, this document will also address the architecture, feature and challenges of the blockchain. Also, the application of the blockchain and socio-technical aspects of the blockchain will be evaluated.
The blockchain was first introduced in by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 along with the Bitcoin which was the first cryptocurrency in the world . Since the introduction of it, the blockchain technology has become a big technology in the field of data security. The blockchain technology allows the data to be distributed but not to be copied, which gives the advantage of data integrity. The blockchain technology was only devised for the Bitcoin initially, but now it is broadly used in the other technologies too . In the following section, a brief about the blockchain will be discussed.
Architecture of Blockchain:
From the architectural point of the blockchain it is distributed, decentralized and openness nature type . From the distribution point, it derived that the blockchain is divided into some batches and the batches are generally known as the blocks. Each of this block contains a cryptographic hash which links the present block with the previous block and this continued till the last block of the total blockchain stream. This process ensures the high integrity of the main data as the block of the data relies on the previous block for the decryption process. Some time in this process separate block is produced which creates a temporary fork. To secure the history of these hashes the blockchain uses a specific type of algorithm which allows storing different type of history. At the time of the selection, the highest value among this hash is selected. Also, the blockchain is commutation is done redundantly rather than the traditional parallel manner.
From the word decentralized it can be easily understood that the blockchain technology lacks the centralization manner which makes the system less vulnerable as there is no central point to attack or failure . In decentralization technique, the data is stored peer to peer in the network. By storing the data peer to peer the blockchain is able to achieve the decentralization of the data. In the decentralization system, every node is having the copy of a blockchain. The quality of the data is maintained by the replication of a huge database and by a computational trust as there is no centralized copy of data exist. The risk of node centralization is required to support the growth of the decentralized blockchain as to process a large set of data more computer resources will be required, which will become more expensive.
The open architecture of the blockchain technology makes it more user-friendly which open to view, but physical access is still required . The open architecture of the blockchain makes it permissionless which is a great advantage for the blockchain network. The main advantage of the permissionless network is that no access control is required to protect against the bad actors. It means that the application will be added to the network without any type of approval and trust. However, a proof of work is needed for the new entries in the network.
Features of a Blockchain:
The blockchain technology has various kind of features of it which makes it different from the other type of security mechanism. A wide range of features of the blockchain is discussed below.
- Fault Tolerance: Blockchain system is not going to fail very easily as the blockchain relies on the many different types of data sources. Practically, all the sources are not going to fail at the same time which makes the blockchain less vulnerable .
- Attack Resistance: As the blockchain technology does not have any type of centralized data source it automatically becomes less vulnerable to the malicious attack.
- Eliminating Third Party: The blockchain technology can exchange the data between users without the involvement of any type of the third party which eliminates the third party risks from the network. Eliminating the third party also lowers the transaction cost .
- Transparency: Another feature of the blockchain is the transparency. As the public blockchain are visible to all the parties involved in it, the blockchain creates transparency among its users.
- Easing the Management:All the transaction of the blockchain is added to a single public ledger. By using a single ledger, the blockchain can avoid the complication of multiple ledgers which makes it easy to manage.
Challenges Related with the Blockchain:
Though the blockchain technology has various benefits from it, the blockchain technology has some major issues also. This issues need to be resolved before it can be adapted to the mainstream technologies. The issues related to the blockchain technology are discussed below.
- Initial Cost: The adoption of the blockchain technology can benefit organizations in a various way, related to the efficiency, productivity and with reduced cost. To implement this technology in the organization for the first time a compatible software and hardware is required. Still, the combination of the perfect software and hardware is not enough to run a blockchain technology successfully. To operate this software and hardware also a group of expertise is needed. After combining all the costs, it is becoming a huge amount to invest in a new type of technology for the organizations, which is becoming a major challenge with the blockchain.
- Integration with old System: To implement the blockchain system the organization must terminate the old system or they must find a way to integrate the blockchain system in the present system. However, there may be some problems if the blockchain technology introduced by terminating the previous system as the employees of the organization will not be familiar with the new technology. For a smooth transaction, the blockchain technology must be integrated with the old system. Integrating with the old system may not be possible in some cases as the old system may not support the blockchain system. In this cases, the organization need to purchase an additional system which will increase the total cost, which is creating another issue with the blockchain technology.
- High Energy Consumption:The blockchain technology uses the proof-of-work technique to authorise the blockchain transaction. This proof-of-work mechanism solves a large variety of complex mathematical problems to secure the network by verifying the transaction method. To execute this mechanism a huge amount of power is required . Also, to cool down these systems, another cooling system is required. Combining these the total amount of power required to run these systems are huge. Many organizations are not able to provide this large amount of power source which is also a barrier related to the blockchain technology.
Application of Blockchain:
The blockchain technology has various type of application in the aspect of security. In the present situation, it is the most secure way of digital transaction. In this paper, the application of blockchain will be discussed in the aspect of currency and smart contracts.
- Currency related applications: In the term of currency, the blockchain technology has a huge impact on the cryptocurrencies. In the present situation, the cryptocurrency and the blockchain considered progressing through the same path . The blockchain technology can help to grow the cryptocurrency market as the cryptocurrency totally relies on the blockchain. Already the cryptocurrency named the Bitcoin has gained huge popularity across the world. This type of cryptocurrencies can help to transact the assets securely over the network. In the banking currency sector, the blockchain will allow exchanging the money more securely and efficiently.
- Smart Contracts:Another good application for the blockchain technology is the smart contracts. The smart contract can help to exchange money, shares, property or anything valuable assets without the involvement of any type of middleman as the smart contract uses the blockchain technology . The smart contract technology can be used in the government sector for the voting purposes. The voting system is very essential for any Government and the smart contracts can provide a way secure system by the implementation of the smart contracts. The protected voting system needs to be decoded for the counting purposes and to decode this data excessive powerful computer system is required which makes it impossible for hackers to crack it.
The above discussed two application which are the cryptocurrency and the smart contract based voting system has many social bearing on its new user but understanding this new application can give the users a major benefit. The most common barrier between the cryptocurrency and the users of it may be the lack of knowledge . By providing proper knowledge to the new users of cryptocurrency they can understand the process of the using a cryptocurrency. Also, it need to be ensure that the peoples know about the system which drives the cryptocurrency system and how each and every transaction is verified. Besides all of this knowledge, the users must know the risks related with the cryptocurrency. Proper investigation about this things can give the users a brief idea how the cryptocurrency works, which will help the users to adopt the cryptocurrency much faster.
Another discussed application of the blockchain in the above section was the smart contracts. The discussed application of the smart contract was the voting system. This type of voting system may have also many type barriers as this is also a new type of voting system which uses some advanced technology . To understand these new application, the users need to take an initiative to gather knowledge about this voting system. The Government needs to help them in this aspects. A demo session of the actual process can help the new users to learn about this things.
From the above discussion, it can be concluded that the blockchain technology a new emerging technology in the field of security aspects. The blockchain technology can provide a marginally improved security in the case of online transactions. The blockchain is now preferable than the other security systems because it is uses the decentralization method which is less vulnerable compared to the other systems. In the discussion part of this paper, the architectural design, features and the challenges related to the blockchain is described. Following the evaluation of the design, challenges and features two application of the blockchain is described, and it can benefit the society is also described. Further, socio-technical aspects of this two applications is discussed. Summarizing all the discussed parts of this paper, it can be stated that the future generation is totally going to adopt the blockchain technology as this not only gives a better security but also it provides low cost options to the users by eliminating the middleman of the transaction.
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