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Interested in knowing how to use blockchain technology to ensure your code safety against vulnerabilities?
We have the answers for you.
Besides the cybersecurity benefits that blockchain technology brings to things like supply chains, financial services, and healthcare, using blockchain solutions is also a great way to ensure peace of mind during the development process.
Several high-profile cases that involved billion-dollar companies recently highlighted the absolute need for companies to be able to prove their ownership of code.
In this article, I will explain how security-conscious development companies such as DevTeam.Space use blockchain to ensure your code is totally safe.
Since a blockchain-based approach acts as an immutable database, any company or individual caught stealing your code better look out! Thanks to our approach to blockchain security, and others like us, the practice of unpunished code theft can now be stopped once and for all!
Using blockchain Security for your codebase
Let’s now look at the following questions:
How to secure your code? How to use blockchain security for that purpose?
- Developers should sign code to prove their ownership.
- Programmers need to securely store transaction records that prove their ownership of the code.
- The system should maintain a clear audit trail with the date and a timestamp.
- Developers should be able to guard against any unauthorized use of their code.
I will now explain how blockchain lets you accomplish these points:
1. A digital signature to prove ownership
Blockchain technology makes heavy use of digital signatures to authenticate transaction initiators. The following points are relevant here:
- Blockchain networks use modern data encryption technology. This is the foundation of the users’ digital signatures.
- Popular public blockchain networks like Bitcoin blockchain or Ethereum blockchain use the “public key-private key encryption”.
- Users have two keys. One is the public key, which can be shared with others. The other is the private key, which users should always keep secret.
- Users encrypt the message using the public key, whereas they decrypt the encrypted message using the private key. Read more about this in “What is public-key cryptography?”.
- The public key is mathematically related to the private key.
- One can use the encryption algorithm to easily create the public key from the private key. However, the reverse is simply impractical. Creating a private key from a public key will require so much computing power that today’s computers will literally take billions of years to complete. I touched on this point in an earlier article called “Quantum computing: will it kill blockchain?”.
- Cryptocurrencies are mathematical money. A digital coin is, in effect, just a piece of information.
- When users of a digital currency like cryptocurrency get a blockchain wallet to store their cryptocurrencies, they set up their public and private keys. A good example is “eth-lightwallet”. From that point onwards, they only need to secure their private key.
- They can sign their transactions using their digital signature, and that completes the authentication process.
- Proving the ownership of a digital coin actually boils down to proving the ownership of that piece of information. Digital signatures and wallets enable users to guard this information.
- Now, look beyond cryptocurrencies. You will find the same concept of user authentication using digital signatures in enterprise blockchains.
- Enterprise blockchains like Hyperledger Fabric (Fabric) don’t operate cryptocurrencies. However, these networks still deal with information. Users create this information. There are other users that consume the information. Note: Fabric uses digital signatures and even provides a “Hardware Security Model” (HSM), i.e., hardware-based enhanced data security for digital signatures. Read more about this in “Pros and cons of Hyperledger Fabric for blockchain networks”.
Software development companies can use blockchain and digital signatures to prove they are the real owners of the code. As I said in my introduction, DevTeam.Space already does this.
2. Store your code on a blockchain
Developers need to store their code securely. This helps them in proving that they indeed are the owners of the code. This can be done in two ways, as follows:
2a. Store the code on the blockchain
This is similar to how blockchain developers deploy smart contracts. This works as follows:
- Developers code their modules.
- They can then store it on the blockchain.
- In the case of Ethereum smart contracts, the code is stored in “Contract Accounts” (CAs) on the blockchain. Read more about it in “How to deploy a smart contract on Ethereum?”.
- Developers working on enterprise blockchains like Fabric deploy “chaincodes” on the blockchain. “Chaincodes” are smart contracts, to use the Fabric parlance.
2b. Store the proof of the existence of the code on the blockchain
Suppose you don’t want to reveal the content of your code. You can use the “Zero-Knowledge Proofs” technique to do this. These work as follows:
- Programmers code their module and store it in an underlying database.
- They store only the proof of the existence of the code on the blockchain.
- This way, they don’t reveal the content of the code. However, anyone wishing to know about the ownership of the code can view the proof.
- This technique is also called “Zero-Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Arguments of Knowledge” (zk-SNARKs). You can read more about it in “Blockchain zero-knowledge proof in a nutshell”.
3. Secure your transaction on the blockchain
Now that you have stored the code or the evidence of its existence on the blockchain, you need assurance that there will be no tampering. Blockchain ensures the immutability of digital assets in the following way:
3a. Public blockchains
An assertion of ownership of the code can be a transaction, which is secured as follows:
- Multiple transactions are grouped in a block.
- Cryptographic hash functions are used for creating the hash of one block. Read more on cryptographic hash functions here. The next block stores this hash value along with its’ transactions. This pattern continues as new data is added.
- Even a minor change to the data in any one block will produce a completely different hash.
- If someone tries to change a block, he or she will need to change all subsequent blocks. This is impractical since it requires a very high amount of computing power.
- Public blockchains are transparent. Anyone trying to modify so many existing blocks will also attract the attention of other nodes on the network which will then resist this change.
- The consensus algorithm comes into the picture when creating a new block. Users need to perform computing power-intensive operations to solve complex mathematical puzzles.
- This is in a competitive ecosystem. Hackers need to manipulate the majority of the participants to compromise the network. That’s quite impractical. Read more about it in “Proof of work vs proof of stake comparison”.
These blockchain security measures protect the transaction against tampering.
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3b. Enterprise blockchains
Enterprise blockchains are private blockchain networks with trusted participants. They prevent the tampering of records as follows:
- They use a consensus algorithm that involves multiple roles. These roles have separate responsibilities in the transaction validation process. The transaction validation process is modeled on organizational approval workflows.
- R3 Corda uses a consensus algorithm that checks for transaction validity and uniqueness. Smart contracts check for validity.
- The protocol program checks if any other transaction has used any of the input states of the transaction in question. If no other transaction did, then it is a unique transaction.
Read more about this in “Public vs private (permissioned) blockchain comparison”.
Important note: A transaction record in the blockchain includes transaction authentication, which is done using a digital signature. Any validated block also has the relevant date and timestamp information.
4. Use blockchain technology to prevent unauthorized use of your code
Now that you have signed your code, secured it using blockchain, and have a comprehensive audit trail, you need to prevent unauthorized use of your code. Blockchain smart contracts accomplish this, as follows:
- Smart contracts are open-source pieces of code with “If-Then-Else” conditions.
- They are tamper-proof, moreover, they execute autonomously.
- They transfer cryptographic assets based on the fulfillment of conditions, and their execution is irreversible. Read more about this in “Smart contracts”.
- You can set up smart contracts to specify conditions that will only allow authorized parties to use your code.
- There are several public blockchain platforms where you can code smart contracts.
- You can develop “Distributed Apps” (DApps) on public blockchain platforms. Using these distributed blockchain applications, you can allow only authorized parties to use your code. I explained DApps in “How to convert a web app into a Dapp”.
- Ethereum is the most prominent of these platforms, where developers can code smart contracts using programming languages like Solidity or Vyper. You can read “Blockchain software development using the Ethereum network” to learn more about Ethereum development.
- Other well-known public blockchain smart contract platforms are NEO, EOS, etc.
- Since late 2018, developers can set up Ethereum smart contracts using Hyper Fabric. I described this blockchain programming approach in “Using Hyperledger Fabric to setup Ethereum smart contracts”.
- Developers can also use enterprise blockchain networks to code smart contracts. I have discussed these options in “What to plan for when undertaking blockchain software development?”.
Planning to use code secured by blockchain technology?
Blockchain has significant potential in regard to data provenance.
Securing code using blockchain security is enormously beneficial. However, the technology is relatively new to the blockchain industry and is still evolving rapidly.
Blockchain development platforms and frameworks are also evolving, adding further complexity. Consequently, blockchain coding can be complex due to its current status as a niche technology.
It is therefore imperative that you find the right software development partner with a thorough understanding of blockchain technology and not just of the blockchain basics to secure your code using blockchain.
You can read my article on “How to find the best software development company?” before engaging a development partner for your blockchain projects.
If you require more information on using blockchain domain procedures to secure the client’s code or wish to engage an expert developer or dev team to help you build a blockchain architecture solution, then please, get in touch with us at DevTea.Space.
Top Frequently Asked Questions on Blockchain Security?
Blockchain can be used to prove ownership of computer code. Since blockchain records are immutable, they can be used to confirm the date when a particular piece of backend code was saved to the blockchain and other details such as the author, etc.
It is the inability of unauthorized parties to alter data blocks stored on the blockchain. Because of this, blockchain data can be accepted at face value and trusted for not having been tampered with.
Some companies staying ahead in blockchain-based distributed ledgers technology adoption include,
A New York-based financial institution, J.P. Morgan, has developed an enterprise blockchain-based distributed ledger technology called Quorum to process internal transaction data;
A California-based healthcare company, Health Linkages, is using blockchain cybersecurity for use cases like data transparency, analytics, compliance, etc.;
A London-based company, Barclays, has filed a patent for a blockchain network to strengthen security in money transfers.
A blockchain system consists of a chain of nodes or block data structure where the initial block is the genesis block. New blocks are added to the first block subsequently. The data stored on each node consists of an input string encrypted by a hash function. All the blocks have the current hash and the previous hash value. If the hash of the previous block is incorrect, then the blockchain database is compromised.