Blockchain technology has been enjoying the spotlight these days, thanks to individuals and groups that have pursued its practical applications. In a recent event, Alex Pentland of the MIT shared that this can be used to create a more secure data encryption method.
Blockchain is the public ledger of bitcoin transactions, which is updated by a network of several computers solving complex algorithms for verification. As such, it is considered a secure way to record data, as tampering with the records would require taking over majority of the computers in the network – a nearly impossible feat.
Blockchain Technology and Encryption
Pentland, who is the Toshiba Professor at the MIT, is also advising the Enigma project which uses blockchain technology to track encrypted data so that processing can take place without revealing crucial information.
According to Pentland, the increase in the amount of hacking incidents and data theft these days has made people paranoid about accessing sensitive information, particularly those pertaining to bank accounts or medical records. All lot of it has to do with safe sharing,” explained Pentland. “Another aspect of this problem is security. We are getting an increasing amount of attacks on [sensitive data]. Bad for companies. Bad for people. It’s just going to get worse.”
MIT has tapped blockchain technology to build Enigma, which could potentially allow databases to retain sensitive information and process it without risking exposure to malicious parties. In its white paper, Enigma is described as “a peer-to-peer network, enabling different parties to jointly store and run computations on data while keeping the data completely private.”
“Enigma’s computational model is based on a highly optimized version of secure multi-party computation, guaranteed by a verifiable secret-sharing scheme. Similar to Bitcoin, Enigma removes the need for a trusted third party, enabling autonomous control of personal data. For the first time, users are able to share their data with cryptographic guarantees regarding their privacy,” the paper indicated.