The Inevitable Blockchain: Tomorrow Of Cybersecurity, Governance & Law

Farrhad Acidwalla, Founder, CYBERNETIVE DIGITALA well-known TEDx speaker and a serial entrepreneur, Farrhad is a B.Com graduate from the H.R. College of Commerce and Economics, and has till date incepted four companies ­ Kiwidia, Webmaster Peers, Rockstah Media, and CYBERNETIVE DIGITAL.

The blockchain is a term which has been pitched around for a while and we all know that the technology has the potential to reshape our digital future. We all know blockchains are decentralized ledgers which can be used to primarily record transactions and contracts; however, execution and reality may evade several of today's blockchain solutions.

The future and potential are extensive. The focus for this article is to dive deep into the applications of blockchain in cybersecurity, governance, and law, to enable our readers to equip themselves and reflect in terms of how these emerging verticals in technology will change our lives on a macro level. First, let's remove the preeminent reservations and paradox about blockchains:

While most people associate blockchain with Bitcoin, please remember, Bitcoin is one application of the technology that is commonly spoken about. Bitcoin does not equal the blockchain. Critics of the technology have grown at the same pace as its development has been furthering. For now, let us hold back from going into details and motives about traditional players and those out there criticizing the technology.

Like any technology, blockchains are also susceptible to attacks, such as the 51 percent attack and other popular vulnerabilities that have been known to plague some blockchains. In addition to this, it is imperative to consider the environmental and energy costs of certain blockchains. There have been several globally researched reports focusing on blockchains like the Bitcoin ledger, which show how they've dramatically increased global energy footprints. Other limitations include the fact that several current blockchains are not able to work in real-time and face delays. Market fragmentation has led to a lack of regulations and almost non-existent standardization across the globe need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

An added dilemma is transparency, which works perfectly in blockchain applications like Bitcoin ­ where anonymity is critical ­ but the set of rules are difficult to apply to our daily banking transactions. Furthermore, as the `right to be forgotten' prevails further - regulators and legislators need to take into consideration the long-term nature of blockchains. As an entrepreneur, I recognize that development and innovation in
technology has a propensity to meander around limitations, just like our mother nature.

Back to Our Blockchain Future
From a technology perspective, no system can ever guarantee security and integrity. However, decentralized blockchains are the closest we've come. This technology has come as a natural evolution of our civilisations relying on the internet and related technologies. Over the past few years, this underlying technological trend has grown in terms of applications. Financial markets and to not just one node but to hundreds, if not thousands of different nodes on the same network. Any change made to data in a block will result in the entire system being aware of the same. So, hacking a blockchain based security system is equivalent to robbing hundreds of banks all at the same time and ensuring that not a single alarm mechanism is triggered while doing so.

Blockchain technology and its application could promise to give owners of intellectual property a way to safely create and distribute creative works

The technology thus helps in creating consensus mechanisms that help in reducing fraud and data tampering with the introduction of new blocks being time-stamped, digitally signed, linked to the previous block and compared to the rest of the blocks. However, with the availability of the right resources and a deeper understanding of blockchain technology, in the future it might be a technically achievable feat.

Another important point to note is that blockchain reduces the human element from the cybersecurity equation thereby mitigating the risk of human error which is most often the cause for data breaches. Human error, negligence and lapse of processes will remain a major security threat for the near future ­ and we cannot expect blockchains to solve these issues comprehensively overnight.

Blockchain's Future in Governance
Blockchain technology comes with a compelling promise for the government. It is transparent yet private. It has a significant feature of removing intermediaries from transactions and in the near future might also come to replace a government agency's role in managing and holding official records. These features of accountability and bypassing the middleman enable blockchain to deter corruption. Blockchain can also play a vital role in development of a digital economy by helping store individual's data, conducting secure transactions, and maintaining private & permanent records. It could potentially assist the government in carrying out its services, it however cannot replace an inefficient system nor can it stop false information from being entered into the network. But by carefully adopting blockchain technology, the government can help in developing an economy which is sustained on the promise of technology.

Blockchain's Future in Law
Globally there have been several investments in legal technology and India is now seeing a surge in accelerators, incubators, and funds relating to technology applications in law. Commonly, legal contracts are essentially made in physical formats requiring signatures on the original documents. However, with blockchain and usage of smart contracts, there is potential for the undivided process to be digitalized - a contract could be created and executed undeviatingly between the parties with minimal or no involvement from lawyers when a set of conditions are met.

Blockchain definitely has immense application in Intellectual Property Law where records, first usage, and logs are notably essential. The technology and its application could promise to give owners of intellectual property a way to safely create and distribute creative works. It can also be applied to the concept of chain of custody, where the integrity of the processes are critical. The ledger is not limited to one location and there is always a permanent record being maintained which eliminates the need for testimony with respect to preservation of chain of custody.