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Blockchain Secure

Blockchain Secure

by Jeremiah ShackelfordApril 25, 2018

Is your website secure? Your company’s network? Your bank account?

Are they ‘blockchain secure’?

I think that sentiment could play strongly in the market as this now infamous tech reveals its capabilities.

Despite the cryptocurrency craze that continues to showcase the technology, I can’t help but come back to cybersecurity as its enduring potential benefit. And that makes sense, the two go hand-and-hand, if your breakout use case is digital cash, it clearly has to be secure. But the opportunity is so much larger than protecting the authenticity of digital payments, this could be a solution to protecting the authenticity of our online identities. Who knows, in a world of decentralized clouds, it could be the underpinning to guarantee the whole architecture. TRUST in the transaction, not amongst the parties entering it. In a world of Experian breaches and GDPR, people are tired of the assumed vulnerability in being online. Perhaps this is what ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ has his/their eyes on. For some, currently the incentive structure is too high not to play on the other team. Blockchain changes that dynamic. It in some ways voluntarily gives up some control so others don’t have to take it. I like that, I like that a lot. The notion of the Internet’s birth being the Great Equalizer is funny isn’t it? This creature/entity/constuct has a long way to go, and I’m starting to understand why so many are excited for the Blockchain Chapter. With an internet protocol secured at 2128, some of those immense cyber skill-sets would be put towards more productive efforts than theft for personal gain.

Last week was RSA, but it was also the Blockchain Developer Conference. In some aspects these two conferences couldn’t be more different. One in its infancy concerned with building technology hardly anyone understands, and the other: one of the largest, most polished conferences in all of Tech. The contrast here is priceless in many ways, it certainly helps characterize this particular point in time [not to mention why this industry is so #pleasantlysurprising dynamic]. I was impressed at RSA; I learned more at BlockDev.


VETERAN BLOCKS

The first rule of BlockDev: Bitcoin has served its purpose (to grab the World’s attention).

The second rule of BlockDev: When it comes to blockchain, it’s safe to say ‘we’re just getting started’.

Courtesy of @rayval

The opening keynote was Ray Valdes from ConsenSys and his insights didn’t disappoint. He’s a veteran tech analyst and while slides as-such tend to be … dense (as in substantial), I couldn’t help but hold onto this gem. He compares blockchain to a horse race and the top line reads:

  • “One horse has completed 9 laps … but it’s a donkey.”

That’s classic, and summed up the sentiment in the room around Bitcoin pretty well. It’s a fast-moving, high-performing animal at this point to be sure, with the volatility in tow to prove it, but it’s just the beginning. It works, it’s valuable to those that use it, but … ‘simplistic’ I think is the word. Being with ConsenSys, of course Mr. Valdes’ consensus skews towards Ethereum, and thus he laid out the argument that presently it represents far-and-away the most robust blockchain platform from which to grow (with developers in tow by contrast). With that said, he was quick to assert that “no platform today has all the winning characteristics”; and also that ‘smart contracts’ are neither smart nor contracts, and thus dangerous at this stage. Nonetheless, amongst all I learned at BlockDev, chief amongst that new knowledge is that Satoshi has a new peer: Vitalik Bhuterin. #ETH  (Ξ) (As a side note of the venturing variety: ConsenSys Ventures announced its first four investments in Ethereum companies back in December.)

amongst all I learned at BlockDev, chief amongst that new knowledge is that Satoshi has a new peer: Vitalik Bhuterin.

A gentleman by the name of James Barry (CTO, Dcntrl) was also in the speaker line-up, and his message/agenda falls precisely within the blockchain cybersecurity framework that is beginning to emerge (quite literally). The title of James’ preso: ‘Introducing an Opensource Foundation for Blockchain Security Projects’, where:

“The hope is that this new foundation will become the industry go-to place for security using and protecting Blockchain based projects, and become the core of a decentralized security layer that strengthens the ability for blockchain to remain hack free.”

Yes, that spells out a ‘consortium’ of sorts (and all the agreeing inherently necessary therein), but in some sense this is what’s lacking from where blockchain applications and cryptocurrencies currently dwell. There is a lot of land grabbing with little to no regard for compatibility or common security concerns. It is a highly fragmented world to say the least, and at some point the ‘decentralized security layer’ Mr. Barry references will become necessary, else stifle overall growth and adoption. They’re taking the Apache model in structuring the Foundation and projects within, an exercise Mr. Barry is familiar with having done so at IBM. Hyperledger, SmartMesh, and Hashgraph have been named as initial participants/contributors, but (going out on a crazy short short limb here) the question will be what tokens/coins/platforms see such Foundation work/standards as healthy to [their] blockchain development, versus a distraction from brute-force, competitive domination in this early-stage market. Otherwise stated, if you’re Google you don’t need to join a foundation to build consensus … so then the question becomes: Will there be a Google for Blockchain?

… so then the question becomes: Will there be a Google for Blockchain?

PLATFORM PRODUCT

Add [your] Cloud (ClearGLASS)

So what about product? Where are the more mature applications? One answer is Clear in this case. As in, ClearFoundation, ClearToken, ClearCenter, ClearOS, ClearNode, and ClearGlass (the most recent addition). ClearGLASS is ClearCenter’s orchestration layer for Blockchain, including “role-based access control, monitoring, alerts, security, visibility and control to make it easier to manage heterogeneous infrastructure all from within one console. ClearGLASS also gives you insight into total costs spanning multiple cloud services and info on under-utilized resources allowing you to tell in realtime if your costs are exceeding the benefits to your IT infrastructure.”  These guys/gals have been working on this evolution we’re beginning to witness for the better part of the last decade, focussing on the infrastructure (and potentially the underlying platform) to manage your blockchain applications. So step right up, and Add [your] Cloud.

ADDITIONAL APPLICATIONS of Note

Akash – ‘Open, Decentralized Compute Marketplace’ (connects co’s w/ idle compute capacity to users who need it)

Aikon – “Our first offerings, the Open Rights Exchange (ORE) protocol and decentralized API marketplace, allow for easy management and commercialization of off-chain API transactions on the blockchain.”

Amber data – ‘Hello Blockchain Analytics’ 🙂

About The Author
Jeremiah Shackelford
Jeremiah Shackelford
Jeremiah Shackelford, Business & Market Developer