It’s practically impossible to go online these days and not see the word blockchain in a tweet or a post. Beyond its basic meaning of a vast database for transactions, what exactly is blockchain and how is it defined?
What is a blockchain?
In simpler terms, blockchain is a collection of information that is stored electronically on computers. Blockchain collects information and piles together in groups also known as blocks. These blocks all hold a set amount of information and are limited in the amount of data they can hold. When a block reaches its maximum capacity, a new block is formed and attached to the previous one, creating a chain.
The structural gathering of data in blocks is also irreversible and is given a timestamp when it is added to the chain. In cryptocurrency, these blocks are stored on computer farms but they don’t need to be in a single, centralised location. These can be stored in geographically distinct locations and can be managed by either individuals or groups. This is an example of decentralised blockchains but blockchains operated by a single organisation and stored in servers under one roof also exist.
A decentralised application of a blockchain is transparent and can be viewed to determine their history. Since, these blocks are irreversible, they can easily correct themselves in case of an error within one of the blocks by cross referencing the data before or after it. It also makes it simple to trace hacks within the system which means if any of the blocks are tampered with or moved, it would be easily identifiable.
Blockchains are also susceptible to end-point vulnerabilities. Since it is near impossible to guess keys that are part of a block, a hacker will instead look for the weakest link in the system to attack which is a device that is being used to access the said data.
If a hacker manages to gain access to an endpoint, he can deploy malicious code that gives him high-level access within the chain.