In a Time of Crisis, Data Must Be Able to Defend Itself | Hacker Noon

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@brian-platzBrian Platz

Co-CEO, Fluree PBC. Co-founder, Silk Road Technology.

From hijacked routers to an attempted hack on the World Health Organization, our time of crisis shows that hackers are opportunists to the core. Health records, social security numbers, IP … everything is fair game, nothing sacred or immune. At least in the current online infrastructure. On a long enough timeline, the probability of a hack nears 100%. 

We need to rethink online architecture. We need to give data the ability to defend itself. 

What if security could travel with data, essentially making it immune to hacks? What if the entire internet had data-centric security, essentially giving it herd immunity to incursions? Now is a pivotal time for blockchain, and US enterprises stand at an inflection point between the old, vulnerable internet and a new bastion of data privacy, security and resilience. It is time to reconsider how we interact with data online. 

The biggest risk is staying put

Ever since the words “data-driven” hit the tech airwaves, enterprises have been cobbling together networks of APIs in order to enable systems where data drives insights, connections and results. The trouble comes in the cobbling. It has become standard practice to wire APIs into application-centric architectures. Designed more than 40 years ago for an era of mainframes, such architectures hold up poorly in the modern online world. 

The old (yet unfortunately current) data stack goes like this. The middleware or business logic tier sucks up data from a siloed database and feeds it into a firewall-protected custom API layer, which in turn powers cloud-based applications. Since the database is siloed, data management is spread out across middleware, leading to redundancy, bloat and leakage. The only way to make sense of data in a broader analytical capacity is to replicate siloed data into ‘data lakes.’ There are no mechanisms to ensure data integrity, and no central source of truth. Even if data is encrypted, the nature of the disparate stack presents security vulnerabilities at every stage of use.

I don’t need to remind you of the troubles associated with the old data stack. We read about them every day. 

The new path to data security

In order to achieve true data security, the three-tier architecture must collapse. In its place, a natively data-centric architecture will rise. This architecture, which combines data without data lakes, lets you share data without APIs and embeds security inside the data itself, will lay the groundwork for the next iteration of the web, which we call Web3. 

This new stack uses blockchain to democratize data ownership while making all data secure, interoperable and traceable. It combines the original generous intent of the early internet with levels of security and accountability that online users have come to sorely miss. Because functionality is built into data and not middleware, compliance and data management become far easier, as does running data-centric apps that use machine learning, AI and machine-to-machine communication. 

The net result? A data value chain that actually works. Secure data that you can both trace and trust. Interoperable data that directly powers applications without the need for middleware. Simpler, more streamlined data architecture. A cleaner platform for innovation; quality data for better business decisions. A solution for our broken internet.  

A Crisis, an Opportunity

China, Australia and Germany are already showing us what the new global standard of enterprise blockchain looks like. China’s 100-city national blockchain network has reduced the cost of deploying a blockchain-based app to a mere $300, fueling an innovation ecosystem. The Australian government’s national blockchain roadmap and Germany’s burgeoning public-private ecosystem demonstrate how a national commitment to supporting blockchain paves the way for a successful Web3 future. 

Lacking national coordination, our biggest opportunity in the US lies in what we’ve always been good at: innovation and grassroots adoption. The world is showing us that blockchain is coming. In this time of crisis, with opportunist hackers hungrier than ever for online assets, blockchain could be one of the biggest opportunities yet. 


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