Blockchain runs on distributed ledger technology that allows its data to be unalterable and secure, but easy to access at the same time.
If you don’t know what a distributed ledger is, the simplest way to think of it is like those people who paint large letters on their bodies at sporting events. Each person has a letter that when combined with the other letters in the correct order forms a word or phrase that everyone can read. If you wanted to change the word or phrase, you would have to change each letter individually. That may seem easy when there is only seven or eight people, but imagine if an entire stadium painted their bodies to form an extremely long phrase. If you wanted to change whatever the people spelled out, then you would need to force each person individually to change their letter.
Preventing Ransomware Attacks
In terms of IT security, distributed ledgers mean that hackers can’t run ransomware attacks, which is when a hacker locks all the data within a network and holds it for ransom so a company, law firm or individual must pay the hacker if they want to operate, because they can’t control all of the data since it is distributed between individuals instead of one central location. Going back to the sports fan example, that means that instead of one person with a message painted on their chest, there are thousands of people with a single letter and a hacker must gain control over each person if they want to control the data.
The other main reason Blockchain is secure is in its name. When data is published in the distributed ledger, it is added to a chain of data forming a block. The data is then hashed using information from other data in the chain. Information that is not approved by the consensus algorithm cannot be added to the chain and data cannot be altered.
It’s as if instead of using easily removable body paint to paint letters on their bodies, the people who paint themselves for sporting events used house paint. The letters they paint on themselves can’t be removed, meaning that the word or phrase they form together can’t be erased and it can’t be rearranged because the people would notice that they don’t form the word that they did earlier.
Landing on the Moon
If you have clients in the health care industry then you know that solving the headaches involved with health care security and payments would be like landing on Mars, but blockchain has legitimate potential to do just that. One reason is that blockchain technology is a solution to ransomware attacks. A ransomware attack is when a hacker sneaks into a network and blocks the network’s owner from accessing their data until they pay a ransom.
Hackers can’t run ransomware attacks on blockchain supported networks because they can’t control all of the data since it is distributed between individuals instead of one central location. Remember a distributed ledger is as if instead of one person with a message painted on their chest, there are thousands of people with a single letter and a hacker must gain control over each person if they want to control the data.
While hospitals have known how devastating a ransomware attack can be for years, everyone else got a taste when the WannaCry ransomware spread amongst computers all over the world. While it’s difficult to say how much the Wanna- Cry ransomware attack cost in total, the estimates are in the billions of dollars. Blockchain supported networks are not only protected from cybercrime such as ransomware attacks, but they’re more efficient as well.
Now you may be thinking that blockchain sounds too good to be true. It’s understandable that a solution to cybercrime, which is estimated to cost businesses and governments $6 trillion per year until 2021, would sound too good to be true, but if you understand why blockchain is so secure than you can see why it has organizations like The Linux Foundation, one of the largest software nonprofits in the world, building infrastructure using its technology. In fact, according to the Linux supported Hyperledger program, “Not since the Web itself has a technology promised broader and more fundamental revolution than blockchain technology.”
Thanks to the security and efficiency that blockchain offers, it’s easy to see how it could make a huge impact on law firms and their clients who deal with tons of sensitive data. Craig A. Petronella