Owning to the long-standing challenges across the digital information ecosystem, emerging concepts like Blockchain are gaining the attention of both academia and industries in reshaping their financial and non-financial application sectors. Blockchain offers a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) network that enables real-time record keeping pertaining to transactions involving digital assets by exploiting distributed ledgers and eliminating the control by intermediaries (e.g., government, private, or financial organizations) . Typically, application-driven Blockchain-based solutions comprise the following five principal modules  –
- Data source: This module enables Blockchain development in a decentralized fashion. It can be visualized in the form of divided databases (or ledgers), distributed across the whole network of participating entities.
- Block creation: This module allows transactions’ data recording in a block (or file), which is linked with already existing blocks linearly, developing a chain of blocks.
- Transaction: This module authorizes a transaction that represents an exchange of digital assets between sender and receiver via alteration of the block’s data without manipulating the historical entries.
- Consensus: This module assists in the transactions’ confirmation by using Proof-of-Stake (PoS), Proof-of-Work (PoW), and other such mechanisms to prevent the corruption of reported data over the Blockchain.
- Connection and interface: This module facilitates web interfaces to the users through the incorporation of Information Technology (IT) platforms, application, and system software, along with algorithms necessary for Blockchain-based applications.
One of the key features of Blockchain technology is asset tracking, where it operates as a transparent ledger to allow recording and tracking of the operations. This feature provides users with the capability to track their assets up-to-the point of their origin. The critical point to ponder here is that the ownership of the asset is not mutable unless its owner verifies the change. The distributed ledger mentioned above cannot be modified, and hence, the ownership history cannot be manipulated. Consequently, Blockchain technology can circumvent security and privacy risks involving mediator intervention, hacking, etc. An amalgamation of Blockchain with other evolving technologies, like the Internet of Things (IoT), promises to foster information accessibility, continuity, and detection of fraudulent information. Furthermore, it offers trusted data transparency and security, where underlying processes can be synchronized via a defined set of rules.
Despite the advancing interests in Blockchain-based solutions for addressing concerns related to emerging domains and technologies like IoT, Cloud computing, etc., there are some prominent research questions and open challenges that are yet to be tackled, as discussed below –
- The security solutions proposed so far in the domain offer capability to mitigate a range of specific security threats and issues. However, the questions arising on ensuring the resiliency against the combination of attacks and zero-day attacks , considering the pragmatic feasibility of these solutions, are yet to be addressed.
- The use of cryptographic primitives during the transaction hashing process relies on the knowledge of cryptographers. Nevertheless, distinctive Blockchain-based solutions are developed by practitioners, tending towards their experience and shared knowledge. What follows from this is the lack of unified criteria and design choices to bring the best of both the worlds under the same realm .
- The implementation of Blockchain-based smart contracts possesses immutability of the contracts that offer considerable security-related benefits by preventing any changes in the code. Nonetheless, this feature can hinder the amendments in case of programming-based security attacks and needs to be investigated .
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