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The Distributed Ledger Part 2: Smart Contracts & Distributed File Systems

The Executors of the Distributed Ledger

In our last Article, The Distributed Ledger Part 1: Data Fidelity, we discussed how the architecture of the Distributed Ledger ensures the integrity of Distributive Data.  In part 2, we will explore the mechanism, Smart Contracts, that automate transactions within Distributed File Systems.

Following in the success of Bitcoin, a plethora of technologies have been developed to build on the capabilities and usefulness of the underlying cryptographic technologies, including platforms like Ethereum, Hyperledger, and EOS. Since blockchain offers a superior method to store, secure, and transfer data of all kinds, there is increasing demand to re-imagine fundamental digital infrastructure.

A natural extension of blockchain technology comes in the form of smart contracts that simplify and automate transactions and agreements of all kinds between participants. These transactions can be purely financial (in the case of cryptocurrencies) or can involve other assets such as data. These ‘contracts’ don’t need to be fulfilled in the traditional sense. Rather, they exist as autonomous agents that live within the blockchain and execute a specific task whenever called. In the case of data storage, the participant sending the data and the participants receiving & storing the data are the parties in the smart contract. The agreement is simply that the receivers will hold onto an encrypted chunk of stuff that the sender can request at any time.

The ability to store data over a distributed network provides astounding resilience and data availability– having no single point of failure, multiple copies, and hash fingerprints also leads to superior data fidelity and integrity, while the underlying encryption technologies ensure confidentiality of data stored on the chain. This has led to the proliferation of blockchain-based distributed file systems (DFS) — basically abstract hard drives that exist across thousands of computers across the globe. In addition to the many thousands of servers already participating, large digital infrastructure providers such as Cloudflare have begun hosting clusters of such nodes to join in on the future of distributed computing, further adding resilience to the network.

If you missed our first 2 part series of Think With Sollensys, start from the beginning –

Distributive Data: Public Key Cryptography

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Cybersecurity is a growing threat ☠️ & Ransomware Attacks are impacting businesses worldwide… Learn how the Sollensys Blockchain Archive Server™ (BAS) eliminates ransomware disruptions and improves business continuity.

About Sollensys:

Sollensys Corp™ is a Distributive Data company, specializing in Blockchain solutions that help organizations recover quickly from Ransomware attacks.

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The Distributed Ledger Part 1: Data Fidelity

The Architecture of Distributive Data

As we’ve discussed in our previous articles, blockchain uses a combination of Public Key Cryptography to encrypt data and Secure Hashing Algorithms to organize & index it on a ledger that is distributed across a network of many different computers, called nodes. Each new “block” is an entry in the ledger built of a piece of data secured with public key cryptography, the hash of the previous block, and its own hash.

100% DATA FIDELITY

Data Fidelity refers to the preservation of data when transmitted from one node to another, specifically, the integrity of a data backup.

Sollensys_BlockDescription_Distributed Ledger

Since each block uses the hash of the previous in the creation of its own hash, every new block is tied to the previous block.

This creates an unbroken chain of time-stamped entries of encrypted data into the ledger. Changing anything in any of the previous blocks or time stamped data leads to a cascade of differences in the hash values, making it easy to identify an edit anywhere in the chain.

Sollesys _ Chart_DataFidelity@4x

In order to protect against tampering and ensure 100% data fidelity, the entire ledger is copied across many different nodes which must all agree on each new block before it’s added.  That way, the effects of an attack at one computer cannot spread to the rest of the network.  An attacker would have to control 51% of the network in order to change the historical record, an  impossible task for all intents and purposes given thousands of independent machines distributed globally.

This gives blockchain the property of ‘immutability’— it is virtually impervious to edits, except for additions of new blocks.

Don’t miss the next edition of Think With Sollensys when we discuss Smart Contracts and the Distributed File System, the executors of the Distributed Ledger.

JOIN THE DISTRIBUTIVE DATA REVOLUTION

Cybersecurity is a growing threat ☠️ & Ransomware Attacks are impacting businesses worldwide… Learn how the Sollensys Blockchain Archive Server™ (BAS) eliminates ransomware disruptions and improves business continuity.

About Sollensys:

Sollensys Corp™ is a Distributive Data company, specializing in Blockchain solutions that help organizations recover quickly from Ransomware attacks.

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Distributive Data & The Secure Hash Algorithm

The Integrity of Distributive Data

In our last article, we discussed how Blockchain drives Distributive Data by recording and encrypting data using Public Key Cryptography across a vast network of computers.  Now, let’s take a deep dive into the technology that binds the chain by creating digital fingerprints to index and verify the data – the Secure Hash Algorithm.

The Secure Hash Algorithm is the other major technology underlying Blockchain. One of the most popular forms of this technology is the 256-bit Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA-256).  Although not technically encryption, the Secure Hash Algorithm is a one-way mathematical operation that takes data of any length and converts it into a 64-character code called a hash.

Hashing is a very useful tool when you want to verify that you possess a piece of information without showing or storing the information in its raw format. This is actually how most websites store your password— they don’t. Rather, they store the 64-character hash of your password matched to your username from when you signed up.  When you log-in, whatever you type in the password field is hashed and checked against that record. Hashing is much more secure since raw password data isn’t stored, just 64 characters of mush.

What is the Secure Hash Algorithm

Sollensys_Chart_Hash-Algorithm

Since even the slightest change in the input will lead to a totally different hash, these algorithms are used as a means to create digital fingerprints in order to verify authenticity, ensure data haven’t been corrupted, and as a means to index and address.

Blockchain Technology Summary

Public-key cryptography converts data along with an attached public key into random looking numbers that can only be decrypted with the paired private key.

Hashing algorithms convert any amount of data into a unique 64-character mush pile and is used for creating digital fingerprints for verifying and addressing.

Don’t miss the next edition of Think With Sollensys when we put it all together to explain the Distributive Data Ledger.

JOIN THE DISTRIBUTIVE DATA REVOLUTION

Cybersecurity is a growing threat ☠️ & Ransomware Attacks are impacting businesses worldwide… Learn how the Sollensys Blockchain Archive Server™ (BAS) eliminates ransomware disruptions and improves business continuity.

About Sollensys:

Sollensys Corp™ is a Distributive Data company, specializing in Blockchain solutions that help organizations recover quickly from Ransomware attacks.

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Distributive Data & Public Key Cryptography

What drives Distributive Data

Blockchain technology is at the center of Distributive Data. In the simplest terms Blockchain is a secure database. It encrypts and records data onto a ledger that is distributed across a network of many computers. While the most popular application of blockchain is arguably the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, Blockchain is actually a much more robust technology which is already being used to improve data integrity, availability, and confidentiality in the finance, supply chain and medical industries.

Data Encryption is at the center of Blockchain, so a basic knowledge of it is required to understand blockchain technology. Historically, encryption was only applied to messages, but now it touches every type of media including text, audio, video and images. Although there are many forms of encryption, we’ll be focused on one of the two technologies primarily used by blockchain.

What is Public Key Cryptography

Sollensys_Corp_Blockchain_Archive_Server

Public Key Cryptography uses a public key to convert data into random-looking numbers that can only be decrypted with a paired
private key. To better illustrate this, we’ll use a real-world example. Say Alice and Bob want to send sensitive files to each other, but they need to make sure the information is secure. To do this, Alice and Bob will use Public-key Cryptography to generate two large prime numbers, called a key pair:
• A Public Key creates digital signatures on file requests.
• A Private Key then decrypts the files once received.

Alice and Bob’s keys are generated simultaneously and are mathematically derived from each other with a function that is easy to perform in one direction (encryption), but difficult to undo (decryption). This structure is called a trapdoor function. In practice, it simply means Alice’s public key can be derived from the private key, but not vice versa, making it safe to share the public key as a means of identification on the network without compromising the private key.

Alice requests a file from Bob using her public key. Bob uses Alice’s public key and the trapdoor function to convert the file into a string of random-looking numbers and return them to Allice. Her private key is the only thing that can convert the jumble of numbers back into the original file.

It would take the strongest computer trillions of years to crack the private key…

Currently, there are several public-key cryptography algorithms that are trusted by the security community, with notable examples being RSA and ECC.

Don’t miss the next edition of Think With Sollensys for a deep dive into the second technology primarily used by blockchain, Hashing Algorithms.

JOIN THE DISTRIBUTIVE DATA REVOLUTION

Cybersecurity is a growing threat ☠️ & Ransomware Attacks are impacting businesses worldwide… Learn how the Sollensys Blockchain Archive Server™ (BAS) eliminates ransomware disruptions and improves business continuity.

About Sollensys:

Sollensys Corp™ is a Distributive Data company, specializing in Blockchain solutions that help organizations recover quickly from Ransomware attacks.