Making the case for permissioned blockchain

Gospel has built a secure data collaboration platform based on blockchain technology. Therein lies the first big challenge; blockchain is not yet widely adopted and is broadly misunderstood.

Making the case for Blockchain

Much like we had years of disagreement on what ‘cloud’ actually means, we will see multiple iterations both in technology and business definitions of ‘blockchain’. At Gospel we lean towards using the term Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs) for precision and to avoid too much confusion, but sometimes its easier to go with what people are familiar with.

From a technology perspective, the most valuable aspect of DLTs are the shared cryptography schemes. We have extremely secure cryptography methodologies out there already that haven’t been compromised but the main skepticism towards them is over the question of who holds the keys? Hacking a system does not necessarily require hacking the cryptography, but instead simply stealing the keys. By using a blockchain technology you are increasing the attack level beyond it’s economical value by sharing the keys and forcing a potential hacker to steal enough of them to break the consensus (for example more than 51%).

Blockchain does indeed hail the next era of secure database technology, but if an immutable historical record of data transactions in a shared untrusted environment is not core to your use case, the chances that you actually need DLTs are slim and another solution may be appropriate.

Making the case for permissioned Blockchains

Many people think the main drivers for permissioned blockchain are data locality or governance issues (or cluster performance by not having to do the proof constructs). Although these are valid motivations, the main driver is really infrastructure control. Governments and large corporations simply cannot afford to have their most sensitive information stored on an infrastructure that may take a specific architectural direction they don’t want to follow. For example with a permissioned DLT they are not forced into chain-fork decisions and instead have control over when and how they upgrade their infrastructure.

Oh, and did I mention that the very nature of permissioned members in a cluster exponentially increases that attack level complexity?

[Gospel is DLT agnostic but only supports permissioned DLTs, starting with #HyperLedger Fabric v1.0 ]

Making the case for Gospel

At Gospel we tend not to operate from a ‘what can we do with this new technology‘ perspective. All of us have a background in enterprise datacentre technologies to support the business needs. The Gospel platform addresses very specific existing problems in enterprise IT namely sharing and collaborating on sensitive information outside of the secured perimeters of a centralised infrastructure.

Here’s the question you need to ask; where are we using inappropriately lower levels of security (email, CSV, Excel, public file transfer, …) to transfer information internally and externally – where we leave ourselves open to cyber threats?

Could we build our platform on another secure database technology? Yes! But by choosing a permissioned DLT as our foundation data structure, Gospel is making secure data sharing more trustworthy than it has ever been, without compromising on less secure authentication, authorisation and networking concepts.

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Hans De Leenheer is Gospel’s VP Product Strategy

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