Data breaches, especially those associated with social media, have attracted their fair share of headlines in recent years. Yet, if there has been one winner to arise from the wreckage, it’s the reputation of blockchain as a method to secure user data.
To date, blockchain technology has gained a lot of attention due to its ability to establish secure transactions using smart contracts. One of the latest incidents of information theft has wiped $40 billion off the value of Facebook in light of a scandal which exposed the personal data of tens of millions of users. Mark Zuckerberg’s social behemoth joins the likes of Yahoo, eBay and Equifax in facing a severe data breach over the last five years. But can blockchain social network become the panacea for safeguarding those in the firing line: the everyday web user?
The notion of blockchain social network
Blockchain creates a way of recording exchanges of data for verifying that every transaction is authorised to take place. Already popular within the financial sector, it carries serious benefits for groups that request, house and transact data of any kind.
With blockchain, all information is decentralised and allows users to monitor their data as well as where it ends up. The second quality is very important when talking about the case of Facebook and its data breach, mainly because the users would have been alerted to someone accessing their information.
When serving any business, the end goal of blockchain is to offer a more secure exchange of data via the use of ‘digital signatures’ for authorising transactions. Everything is recorded and encrypted in a system where nothing can be altered, which helps to keep fraudsters at bay.
Where it will work
Social networks and many other businesses are under constant threat from cybercriminals around the world. Groups like Facebook represent key targets for unscrupulous acts due to their hoarding of vast sums of user data, which has become a valuable currency on the dark web.
Side issues like the perceived trendiness of their platforms only seek to make it harder for the likes of Facebook to maintain their image and sizeable user counts. Thus, a data breach is near enough one of the worst problems they can encounter.
As the list of these cases continues to expand, so too does the reputation of blockchain as a countermeasure. For proof of its suitability, take the reports of Google developing a blockchain-related standard for cloud-based services like Google Drive and Gmail.
This would seek to record the various transactions of data and provide a way for Google to assure its users that their information is in safe hands.
Whole platforms have been inspired by the notion of protecting user data and offering a safer place for people to share various pieces of information.
APPICS is a new photo-blogging style social network that pays its users for the time they spend on the platform. Based completely on blockchain technology, the company has created an easy introduction to blockchain — a tough subject for some to grapple — and is marketing off the back of its protection of user data.
In the face of mounting threats over the safety of user data, blockchain is exercising its ability to protect it.
“Blockchain certainly makes a drastic impact on how people interact with each other. It is mainly adopted in finance and legal industries as for now, but it’s potential is unlimited. In terms of adding security to social media, I don’t think blockchain is a good solution for keeping all the users’ messages secure. The size of the full blockchain would be too big to work with, and the performance would be poor consequently”, says Anatoliy Lytovchenko, Head of Software Engineering and Development Office at ELEKS.
“Still, blockchain can be successfully used to send, for example, private messages. Using the public address of the user A as a key, user B can encrypt the message and put in on a social network. In this case, the user A is the only one who can decrypt that message. If needed, a fact of sending a message can be recorded and stored in the blockchain.”
Many studies predict a rise in use cases as companies scramble to develop new platforms and applications on a base of blockchain technology. Its rise will be as natural as the increase in data breaches, which appear to be claiming new victims on a weekly cycle.
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Originally published at eleks.com on March 29, 2018.