The past few months have seen unprecedented growth in interest to Cryptocurrencies. Naturally, then, more and more industry experts are taking note of Blockchain and the benefits that they have to offer. Big Data is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world as every business wants to get insights into usage patterns of their consumers. Big Data refers to massive datasets that are analyzed to reveal underlying patterns using advanced statistical models and data mining. Here’s a look at how these two giant industries can benefit from each other.
Challenges that Big Data Faces
Several large organizations like Facebook, Amazon, and Google have a vast amount of data around the world that they need to store. These datasets can reach the Petabytes range, but with such huge data sets come their own set of problems. Companies have to make sure that the latest version is synchronized among all of the data centers in real time and that the data is authentic. Companies also have to plan for malicious actors who have access to data centers along with adverse natural calamities. Blockchain can come in handy here as at their core, and Blockchains are just databases with three essential properties: Decentralization, Immutability, and Integrity.
Decentralizing the data storage and management helps increase security by compartmentalizing the flow of control. In a scenario where a rogue data center employee tries to destroy or modify data, decentralization ensures that there are copies of data that have not been compromised. For an organized attack on the database, the attacker would need to control a majority of the network which is quite challenging to acquire. Decentralization also ensures that the governance of such a model is democratic. This is done taking votes from all the parties involved that wish to use the model to ensure fairness.
Data Immutability and Integrity
Immutability of data is of utmost importance to the corporations which are concerned with Big Data. If the data set that needs to be scrutinized is modified in any way, the resulting analysis is bound to be of little value. Corporations would naturally like to avoid such a scenario to save money. Blockchains can efficiently ensure as Blockchain provide a seamless way to conduct data integrity and audit trails. The two most significant problems that companies are dealing with large datasets are:
1) Ensuring that data has not been modified.
2) Ensuring that data comes from an authentic source.
Factom, one of the most interesting Blockchain Startups, is working to solve precisely that particular problem. Factom is leveraging the power of the Bitcoin Blockchain to ensure the immutability and authenticity of data. The Factom system works by segmenting the data services into smaller fragments and using their network to provide security at every step. Every time that data needs to be secured, Factom creates a transaction with the hash of the data in JSON document. That document is then cryptographically signed with the company’s private key to ensure ownership. This transaction is then written in the Blockchain of choice like Bitcoin or Ethereum to ensure that data remains just as secure as the Bitcoin’s Blockchain. This system also makes it trivial to check for inconsistencies in the future as it only requires comparing hashes of the two datasets.
Another point of contention of enormous data sets is the issue of rights or ownership. Blockchains makes it easy to ascribe ownership to data, thereby facilitating the transfer of rights and royalties based on fair use. This would enable a universal data marketplace that has never been seen before. People would be able to get compensated more fairly than right now, and corporations would get access to more data points this way.
The most prominent advantage of using Blockchain Technology for organizations like Healthcare providers to secure large data sets is that Blockchains are hack proof. In 2015, Healthcare providers along with prominent insurers lost an estimated 100 million patient records due to several data breaches. If the data were encrypted, time-stamped and appended to a Blockchain like Factom instead, there would not be any unauthorized access. Physicians would be able to get instant access, and patients would get a lot more control over how their sensitive information is used.