Data safety. How does technology affect our privacy? Confidentiality or convenience, how to achieve?
Observing the technology development a direct user understands what a giant leap the humanity made over the past 20 years. All started with Pentium and Nokia, Internet ADSL and Rambler. Later, the first smart phones appeared, and that, I think gave an enormous stimulus to the development of smart technologies. Thanks to the first smart phones the application market appeared and began to develop and now takes just a huge part of the IT sector. It is simply incredible of how fast these innovations have invaded our lives. It was only yesterday they were just fantasy stories. How that happened? The answer is on the surface, it is convenient, or more appropriately to say: it is very, very convenient and in every sense makes our life easier.
You drive home after work and while entering the parking zone the sensor immediately reads the car number and sends signal to the home network — “The master is home”. While you’re coming up to the apartment, a smart kettle makes some tea, pleasant relaxing music starts playing automatically and the curtains are drawn. The light turns on as soon as you enter home. And each further step is carefully thought out, including dozens of different scenarios. All processes such as cleaning and washing are automated and do not require your close participation.
I regret to say, I don’t live like this. But I do know that this life is possible right now and it doesn’t cost a fortune as a lot of people might think. Such technologies are quite affordable even for middle-income people. But let’s get back to the issue.
Unfortunately, a negative side of the medal is also existing. The closer you get to technology, the less privacy you have. The scenario that I mentioned above has a major drawback. Most devices are connected to the network, and when they transmit information there, it means that all of this data can be hacked or can be configured to transmit some information of you.
Here are some examples of the real situations:
- The children’s toy Hello Barbie, that is very popular in the USA records the child’s voice and sends it to the cloud with subsequent recognition. The main goal for this is to teach a toy by means of AI during the game process. However, up to a certain moment it was unknown that the toy also collects information about the child: name, style of speech, habits and interests.
- In 2017, a journalist from Europe, doing her job, sent a request to Tinder (a dating app), which she had been using for several years just to receive her data stored on this app. Tinder did not accommodate a request even after she complained to the Authorities on data protection and even after human rights lawyer interfered.
At the end, she was sent some data, but only after, she had introduced herself as a journalist. However, it wasn't just a common data. It was 800 pages of her very private life with photographs, with correspondence, views, likes and other private information.
There are a lot of stories that have something in common. While enjoying the benefits of smart devices we sacrifice our privacy.
Searching for the best solutions of data safety and privacy on the network, many people have started checking out the blockchain technology.
Is there anonymity in the blockchain?
We know that Satoshi’s blockchain was focused on creation of a new independent financial system. However, the Bitcoin’s creator attended the privacy of the system as a main priority. At first sight the transactions in the blockchain are not closely linked to person and it seems impossible to link it with a person. But it’s not as safe as it looks like at first. Network addresses can be linked with IP addresses or with other user information that many analytical services collect.
Everything that happens in the blockchain is available for analysis. It’s only enough to make one deal and people could already learn a lot more of each other's financial life. Such as the amount of cryptocurrency and the intended use of it. And the exchanges trading implies a complete identification.
If the basic user still able to hide his data, for a business or other legal structures the situation is much more complicated. Most of the companies’ data is a trade secret and if there is not confidentiality there are risks that a lot of important information could fall into the wrong hands, with all the consequences that come with it.
Can you imagine how many data leaks have occurred in the cryptocurrency market over the past two years? How many such cases occurring worldwide? Surely, some of them you’ve heard of. For example, the Binance exchange user’s largest data leak, that apparently considered the most safe and secure.
Of course, there are a number of anonymous cryptocurrency that partially solve this problem. However, each time new issues are emerging. The problem of the regulation is one of them.
The government of the majority of states wants to know and control everything. Thus, the anonymous cryptocurrency is rather closer to shadow economy and most legal entities are simply unable to use it. In Japan, for example, anonymous cryptocurrency is officially banned.
Confidentiality remains a serious obstacle for all market participants, as well as in industries where the personal data safety is important. In fact, most people are interested in creating a system that would provide new financial opportunities without asking for confidence.
In the middle of 2018, when ICOs still continued there activity, the KEEP Network project had come to my attention. They were exactly solving the safety problem in a rather elegant way. At that time, I hadn’t think about data protection and privacy, I had other things to do. However, for many reasons that was one of the best data security and privacy project. All this time, the project has been actively developed and now is coming to a head, being in an advantage stage of testnet.
Keep is a “privacy layer for Ethereum” that addresses the difficult challenge of allowing secure and private data to be used on a public blockchain.
The KEEP protocol was developed to connect the personal data secure with public blockchains.
Thanks to KEEP, users can store their data offline while smart contracts and transactions from the main network may have access to databank.
What does this mean?
Your data that is probably a trade secret or other type of confidential information are placed in an off — chain’s private databank and not available to public. However, using the cryptographic signatures and verification the user who is having all indispensable keys can provide this data to the network without disclosing it publicly.
I am not going to describe the project’s technical details. All this information is quite easy to search. Next, I will briefly talk about the first use of KEEP with a real example. And I will discuss about possible options for using the protocol.
TBTC is a 1:1 Bitcoin-backed ERC-20, the first token to be minted via a decentralized protocol; one TBTC can be redeemed for 1 BTC. Because it is Bitcoin on Ethereum, not the price of Bitcoin on Ethereum, this token allows Bitcoin to be used in Decentralized Finance (DeFi). TBTC is only possible because of the innovations within Keep that allow for private keys to remain secret while also participating on a public blockchain.
So, what the point?
The industry is developing very quickly and the cryptocurrency is no longer just a payment instrument, which in its turn Bitcoin is. At present, the DeFi sector is growing by leaps and bounds and being built on the Ethereum network and provided by ETH. There are a huge number of Bitcoin holders who for many reasons keep the lion’s share of their capital in BTC and do not want to transfer their assets.
Such a "bridge" between the two largest blockchains will allow Bitcoin supporters to participate in an rapidly developing sector and DeFi will significantly accelerate the development.
The KEEP solution brings the adoption of cryptocurrency closer to the structure of real business. Even to me, to person with a humanitarian turn of mind occurred a couple of use cases implemented with the KEEP:
- In medical field there is a huge amount of confidential information, which as a rule is not protected at all. Most countries are moving or have already moved towards data digitalization, however, it’s not even clear of how this information is stored and whether it is protected or not. KEEP helps to store all private information about patients in off-chain “keeps” however, each user, as appropriate would have an opportunity to provide his medical records directly at a doctor’s appointment, without worrying of a data leakage.
- The banking sector is also a huge infrastructure that has a great deal of private information. Besides work with customers whose data are often stored in inappropriate way, banks also have internal information that at times gets into the network or even worse to competitors. Creating different levels of access, banks will be able to entrust valuable information to a reliable employees and thus minimizing the risk of information leakage.
At the moment, KEEP is actively testing the network before its main launch. A large number of people take part in testing process, including ordinary members of the community, like me, who believe in the technologies and issues that KEEP successfully solves every day.