Theoretically, storing information in a distributed blockchain is far safer than using a traditional central database that stands as a single point of failure. But in practice, the technology is still vulnerable to a myriad of security threats that need to be addressed before its potential can be realized. IBM Corp. set out to make the task easier for its customers today by introducing a new cloud-based implementation that’s preconfigured to prevent tampering.
The platform runs on its SoftLayer infrastructure-as-a-service platform and is described as the most secure of its kind on the market. Every entry on a user’s blockchain is verified using encryption keys that are stored on specialized hardware designed to resistant not only regular breaches, but also attempts to physically compromise its componentry. Meanwhile, legitimate activity is logged using a built-in auditing capability that ensures organizations to keep track of what’s happening in their environments.
The functionality complements the security mechanisms in Hyperledger, the open-source blockchain framework on which IBM’s new service is based. The project is the result of a collaboration between the company and about a dozen major financial service providers that hope to harness the potential of blockchain technology in banking. According to Big Blue, its software can not only make it easier to protect against hackers but also speed up transaction processing thanks to its disaggregated design. When a payment is made using Hyperledger, the details are automatically shared with all the parties involved in the exchange.
Yet while the project may have been developed with financial transactions in mind, IBM envisions the technology and its new cloud offering finding use in other areas well. Hospitals, for instance, will be able to leverage blockchains to regulate the exchange of patient data with insurers, while government agencies could similarly protect their own sensitive information. Taking into account that such organizations often prefer to keep their records behind the firewall, Big Blue is introducing a Dockerized version of Hyperledger alongside the new cloud service that can be deployed on in-house infrastructure.
It’s also offering professional services to help customize the technology according to customer requirements. Among the early adopters currently working with IBM is banking giant BNY Mellon, which is seeking to develop a securities lending application that will use Hyperledger to handle the transfer of assets.