Majority of the population has this typical notion of blockchain as a technology linked to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, however, it is just the tip of the iceberg. Originally this technology was originally conjured up in 1991 when W. Scott Stornetta and Stuart Haber pronounced their very-first work on a chain of cryptographically safeguarded blocks, but it rose up to fame in 2008 with the arrival of Bitcoin.
What is a Blockchain?
A blockchain is an exclusive, concordant record that is then dispersed over several network nodes. As far as cryptocurrencies are considered, you can think of them as the accounting register recording each transaction.
A blockchain transaction is a complex procedure and difficult to understand given the condition that you dig into the microscopic details of its working process. However, the basic idea is relatively simple to follow.
What does each block store?
Each block stores information relevant to that block and some valid transactions or records.
Through the hash of each block, a link to the next block and the previous block is provided. It is a unique code that serves as the fingerprint of the block.
Given that each block has information from the hash of the previous block, it (block) is immovable and has a fixed place within the chain. The entire chain is saved in each network node that constitutes a blockchain. Therefore, all the network participants have an exact copy of the chain.
When the new records are created, the network nodes are first validated and verified and then affixed to a new block which is then further joined to the chain.
How is blockchain so reliable?
The availability of the information is always guaranteed as the technology is distributed, an exact copy is stored in every network node. That’s why, if an attacker intends to cause a denial-of-service, they would first have to negate all the network nodes because only one operative node is required to extract the information.
Moreover, as all nodes contain the same information and the records are consensual, it is nearly impossible to modify it, guaranteeing its reliability. If an attacker aims to alter the information in a blockchain, he or she would have to alter the complete chain or minimum 51% of the total nodes.
Eventually, each block is arithmetically linked to the next block, the addition of a new block to the chain is considered as unchangeable. In case a block’s relationship with the chain is altered, it is inoperative. In simplified words, the information recorded in the blocks is perpetual and unchanging.
In final words, blockchain tech enables us to keep information that can never be deleted, modified, or lost.
The use of digital signatures and certificates by each network node to authenticate the information and transactions safeguards the authenticity of this information. We can consider blockchain as a record keeper, validating and certifying any and every type of information. A decentralized and reliable registry that is resistant to data manipulation and records everything.
Currently, we are accustomed to working with centralized models. We share al our information to companies like Facebook or Google to manage and send all our messages through WhatsApp or Telegram servers so that they can store our important deeds or documentation and spend fortunes on record keepers and institutions to certify and send them.
Whereas in the blockchain, data is dispersed across all network nodes. With the absence of a central node, all the other nodes participate equally, validating and storing all information. It is a quite powerful tool for storing information and transmitting it in a reliable way. It is a sort of decentralized model wherein the information solely belongs to us without any need of any company to provide the service.
Other applications of the blockchain
Basically, blockchain can be utilized to store any sort of information that requires to be kept integral and remains available in a decentralized, cheaper, and secure way than via go-betweens. Since the information stored is encrypted, its discretion can be surefire because the ones without encryption key cannot access it.
Using blockchain for documents
Blockchain can be considered very useful for documentation and managing digital assets. Until now, only one problem persisted with digital technology that everything is quite easy to copy, however, blockchain enables you to keep a track of documents, deeds, purchases, or any other category of an online asset without them being forged.
Blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT)
The blockchain technology can potentially transform the Internet of Things (IoT) market where the major challenge lies for the supplier companies to manage the millions of devices that are connected to the internet.
In the coming years, the centralized model won’t be able to bear the burden of these many devices, considering the fact that many of these are susceptible to cyber-attacks. Blockchain will ensure that devices communicate—without any intermediaries—reliably, safely, and directly through the network.
This technology further allows you to store all types of information, track, verify, and validate them from logistics and messaging services, democratic voting systems, digital certificates to money and financial transactions and, of course, the intelligent contracts too.
No wonder that blockchain has transformed the decentralized and immutable layer that the internet has always dreamed about into reality. This cutting-edge technology completely removes the dependence out of the equation and replaces it with arithmetical facts.