Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Improving Data Sharing with Blockchain

Improving Data Sharing with Blockchain

Blockchain Revolutionizing Data Sharing

In the era of big data and artificial intelligence, sharing data is inevitable and even a prerequisite for business innovations and scientific breakthroughs. Yet, concern over data privacy is growing by the day as we lack of secure data-sharing solutions. Meanwhile, decentralized data-sharing platforms, mainly Blockchain, are being leveraged to add transparency and control the data-sharing process. But the main question is: How does blockchain technology help organizations when sharing data?

What Is Data Sharing?

First thing first, let’s explore the meaning of data sharing. The latter is commonly used in the Business world and refers to a technology leveraged to distribute the same sets of data resources with multiple users or applications or even to expand internal data to broader market. Yet the biggest challenge is how to handle the wide scale sharing of data, in other words how to move the increasing volumes of data with a defined strategy while complying with data governance best practices and maintaining data fidelity across all involved entities.

Key Benefits of Data Sharing

In today’s digital world, one of the keys to gaining a competitive edge lies in your data. As long as everyone still look at their data in silos, there will be no tangible change or improvement since data sharing is undoubtedly the ultimate way to gain insights and remain ahead of the curve. When implemented in the proper way, not only does it remove barriers, but also help organizations improve collaboration between their employees, increase transparency and trust among their stakeholders and enable a better use of their resources. To put this into perspective, data sharing can provide the business with the needed data while building trust and ultimately delivering real benefits.     

Improving Data Sharing with Blockchain Technology 

With the rise of new technologies, services, and devices, managing operations of such complex networks is becoming more challenging than ever. This is where blockchain comes in to strike a balance between user privacy, enhanced user experience and profit for businesses. In fact, the features of this technology are being used to overcome many data-sharing issues; this decentralized data-sharing network is adding a transparency layer for all data transactions by directly enabling participants to control their own records. But how exactly does blockchain technology help organizations when sharing data? This new technology store consists of growing list of records called blocks, that are securely linked together using cryptography and forming a chain that cannot be tampered with. By using distributed ledgers and relying on user-controlled privacy, any changes or mistakes can be traced back to their source. Therefore, it is only natural to take advantage of blockchain’s strengths including integrity, immutability, decentralization and verifiability to address the major issues such as security, privacy, user-transparency and control, and incentives for data sharing especially that privacy and security problems associated with storing personal data are very frequent and most of online services have experienced security breaches and data theft. Most importantly, this technology circumvents the need for centralizing data into a third party, which leads to increased trust unlike a centralized service provider where the user can intentionally delete the data, or even in some cases the data is not delivered due to a technical failure. In other words, a blockchain-enabled service is unbiased toward the business being done. Without blockchain, each organization has to keep a separate database. Because blockchain uses a distributed ledger, transactions and data are recorded identically in multiple locations. 

An “Append-only” Data Structure

An “append-only” model is what distinguishes blockchain technology. Add-only means that only new data can be added, whereas existing data cannot be edited or removed. 
More precisely, additional blocks will be chained together with previous blocks of data. Because of the append-only nature of the blockchain, the data remains fully protected. Information, once stored, cannot be compromised for malicious benefits. Plus, with each record being interlinked to other records on a distributed ledger it is nearly impossible to hack the data without altering the entire data chain. Hence, enhanced security. Not to mention that encrypted records are shared across participants with no third party involved, which helps ensure end-to-end transparency.

The Perks of Public Ledger

Maintaining data trust while avoiding fraudulent attacks is no small feat. Yet a public ledger is a promising technique that can provide full transparency and strong data protection.

To put this into perspective, each user can view and verify the transactions published on a blockchain network. Any transaction is confirmed and accepted by all nodes in the network. During the validation process, the transaction is added into a block that is finalized by a proof of work. Once a transaction is confirmed in this manner, it becomes immutable. Therefore, changing a historical block would need a regeneration of all following blocks as well. In other words, public blockchain based ledger is, so far, the most efficient way to provide strong evidence of policy compliance all while guarantying full transparency.

Blockchain Supporting Data Sharing in Various Industries

Going back to the main question: How does Blockchain help organizations when sharing data?

Although this ground-breaking technology was initially designed as a platform for the virtual currency Bitcoin, it has been transforming since then data management in many domains and revolutionizing how governments, institutions and industries work . In fact, with the ever-increasing amount of personal data, many of them, including the financial technologies (fintech) and banking sectors, commercial supply chains, healthcare, building industries, etc. are now incorporating blockchain technology as a core of their data-management systems.

Starting with governments, a lot is at stake especially that the data involves secrets and requires a lot of privacy which is really hard to guarantee with the traditional sharing process. In the decentralized data-sharing model, the information flow is no longer fuzzy. Each sector manages its database and specifies the access rights of other sectors by itself, thus avoiding any confusion in terms of responsibilities. Plus, every information interaction can be recorded and traceable. 

Shipping and logistics enterprises are also leveraging blockchain. The latter enables the monitoring of performance history through real-time visibility, all while ensuring compliance with safety standards across the supply chain. Speaking of, blockchain is crucial to this field since it can trace all the steps. In other words, you can go from the producer to the distributor, to the retailer, then to you, the purchaser, which makes it easy for an owner or a customer to view each record, thus ensuring a permanent transparency.

When it comes to healthcare, a very critical field where data is highly sensitive, blockchain is of greater value since it is the ultimate way to guarantee that the data of the patients are stored securely and can be accessed only based on their consent. Additionally, medication production and delivery can benefit from the increased transparency, traceability, and visibility, therefore optimizing the whole supply chain process.

One more field where blockchain can have a major impact: Cybersecurity. With cyberattacks being a big threat to the digital world, blockchain provides a secure way of recording transactions without disclosing private information to anyone. In fact, all the information stored on a network is encrypted using a cryptographic algorithm. Plus, with blockchain, it is easily possible to detect malicious data attacks, thus guaranteeing that no data is altered or tampered.

As you can see, blockchain technology is taking over the way we work and disrupting many industries. In addition to providing more efficient, and more secure data management while decreasing the risk of fraud, blockchain actually helps businesses address challenges related to privacy especially in the advent of GDPR that requires compliance with specific standards and policies to maintain the user’s privacy. As the technology further develops, more challenges related to data security keep rising. That said, the impact of blockchain will continue to grow, hoping to achieve full compliance with data governance best practices.