Working with large amounts of data can be a bit of a drag. Whether you are a bank or an insurance company or you work in telecommunications, we live in a world where data is the new gold. Every company collects massive amounts of data regularly, and apart from knowing how to decipher it, they also need to worry about keeping this data safe.
So far, several traditional methods of data storage have shown to be rather ineffective. However, there are some ways through which you can ensure that hackers and cyber terrorists don’t get their hands on the data at your disposal. Here are a few:
Keeping the data on-chain
On-chain data storage might just be getting the type of traction that it deserves, but there are undoubtedly some hidden gems in there that can be explored. At the very least, it has shown to be more secure than the traditional server system that is used by companies all over the world, and there is even more room for growth.
While most companies would rather not want to admit it, the traditional server means of data storage is beginning to show cracks. Data theft techniques have advanced and evolved, but servers haven’t done so much changing by themselves. As a result, data has been siphoned in different forms.
In 2016, unidentified cyber criminals were able to crash the servers of the Bangladesh Bank and steal up to $100 million. In the same year, the Tesco Bank in the United Kingdom was the victim of a cyber attack that led to the loss of funds from about 20,000 current accounts.
However, by storing data on a network of computers, data compromising becomes much more challenging for hackers and cybercriminals. As opposed to having to breach a single server and making unsanctioned transactions, on-chain data storage can only be done if a majority of the network has been conquered by a single client.
Even for the most skilled hackers, breaking through a single server on its own is a herculean task, to say the least. So, the ability to compromise enough servers to access the data on an entire blockchain successfully is borderline impossible. Distributed ledger systems have afforded a high level of security, and this means that they have a lot of use for institutions and companies that deal with large amounts of data.
Perhaps one of the most significant reasons why data storage on a blockchain has been so challenging is the issue of scalability. Inherently, every blockchain that is built or developed is done so with the intent of keeping users and their data safe. However, with an increase in usage comes an increase in vulnerabilities. Sadly, not everyone can match this.
Take a scenario, for example, a new blockchain is developed, and it provides a lot of opportunities for projects to be developed and for programmers to work on things easily. As its use becomes even more seamless, more people begin to join in on this blockchain, thus increasing the amount of data that is put on it.
As more people continue to join, data becomes more abundant, and the blockchain shows an increasing need to scale in order to accommodate a large amount of data that it is now holding. If the blockchain is unable to scale, security vulnerabilities become more exploitable, and this means that the data of the thousands (and in some cases, perhaps even millions) of people who are using the blockchain is essentially in danger.
In addition to the security vulnerabilities, if a blockchain becomes congested due to a massive influx of new users, transaction prices will become exceedingly expensive while taking days to confirm. This lack of scalability cripples the network like it happened with Bitcoin in January 2018. At the time, during the peak of the bull market, there were so many new users that some transactions took even a week to confirm while the average fee was as high as $28. During the “CryptoKitties invasion”, Ethereum has experienced something similar as the cryptocurrency’s network had a record-breaking 30,000 transactions being stuck and waiting to be processed.
Scalability is an immutable characteristic that every blockchain should have. However, not every blockchain exhibits this characteristic, and this means that they are vulnerable.
Thankfully, the RIFT protocol created by ILCoin Blockchain Project is different. Transactions are stored inside the blockchain, essentially meaning that scalability is optimized, and apart from being able to access their data quickly, users can be sure that security is top-notch.
Regardless of the advanced technology behind it, every ideal blockchain experiences issues with collating large amounts of data. However, with RIFT, the synchronization of blocks is seamless. Its operation method also makes it possible for transaction confirmation while a block is being synced, reducing mining costs and data accommodation.
Large block size and maximum transaction speed
For quite a while now, a lot of blockchains have been plagued with the problem of choosing between having a large block size (and risking transaction speed) and minimizing the block size (while also ensuring faster speeds).
These arguments have led to what is known as hard forks; essentially, a blockchain breaking off from another and being set up by people who believe that they have an idea of what the former blockchain should ideally be.
Last year, Bitcoin SV (BSV) initiated a hard fork to split off from the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) blockchain and launched a massive block size increase (expecting to reach 2 GB by May 2020). However, as BSV developers utilized only one layer for on-chain scaling, the network of the cryptocurrency is currently facing multiple issues, such as increased centralization, possible block propagation issues, and data dump scenarios.
Other blockchains have chosen off-chain solutions for scaling. Bitcoin, for example, is currently scaling its blockchain via the Lightning Network, a second layer that runs on top of the base blockchain layer. In theory, the Lightning Network allows for virtually unlimited scaling capabilities with low cost and near-instant transactions that occur on a separate, off-chain channel. Once the channel is closed, the final status of the transactions is written on the blockchain.
However, this is only theory as the Lightning Network is facing multiple major issues. Both users and nodes have to remain online all the time, which raises security concerns as network participants are more susceptible to hacks and thefts if they constantly maintain an online connection. Furthermore, the Lightning Network is also facing criticism, including a UX that stands in the way of large-scale adoption, increased centralization, as well as routing limits.
While this conundrum is definitely significant, it is also another area where the RIFT is able to thrive.
As opposed to a lot of blockchain variants out there (such as Bitcoin SV), RIFT comes with a two-layer architecture. There is the block layer, as well as the mini-block layer. Theoretically, this structure allows ILCoin to expand block and network size almost indefinitely - but in practice, it is still limited by the current network state. At the moment, the project has successfully finished a hard fork to implement the new protocol. In the end of November, the 5 Gb blocks will be available in the live net.
All of these benefits have made blockchain technology a viable method of storing data. The technology has been able to insert itself into just about every aspect of human living, but when it comes to data storage and retrieval, its true potential remains untapped.