Acronis hopes to achieve a blockchain-based system to backup data, in effect instilling trust and vastly improving security in products with their solution, known as Notary, which could be augmented for a variety of use cases.
The blockchain’s broad range of applications in both commercial and non-commercial industries has become undeniable. Blockchain startups across the globe are developing solutions to streamline business processes, securely store sensitive data, transfer digital assets, and reduce operational costs.
One area the blockchain is primed for, due to its ability to safely store large sets of data in a decentralized and immutable manner, is the backing up of critical data. A Massachusetts-based backup software and data protection solutions company named Acronis is doing exactly that.
In October 2016, Acronis launched a new system to backup important data for its corporate customers using blockchain technology. The new solution, called Acronis Notary, offers its users the ability to save data using a cryptographic hash, which can be considered as the equivalent of a digital fingerprint; if the data is then in any way tampered with, this digital fingerprint changes. By recording the digital fingerprint of data, when the user retrieves the saved data they can check that the data has not been augmented by ensuring the digital fingerprint is still the same.
These digital fingerprints, recorded on an immutable ledger, are only accessible to those with the keys to do so, ensuring that the stored data does not suffer from cyber attacks such as ransomware or outright data theft.
Eugene Aseev, Head of Acronis' R&D division, told Computerworld:
“There’s a significant difference to just populating hashes and storing them locally. Despite the fact, the hashes are the same, and the principles are the same, the way they are stored is completely different. Now we have a public reference to the hash in the blockchain, which can’t be tampered with because blockchain technology is immutable by default. You can’t change anything in this database. It introduces a completely new level of trust for the user and the parties involved and institutions.”
While Acronis has selected the public Ethereum blockchain, the team are always reviewing and evaluating other blockchain networks to see if they better fit the bill. Ethereum's Vitalik Buterin is also a frequent visitor to their research team in Singapore to update them with the latest happenings.
Aseev further added: “There has been a tremendous amount of attention around blockchain, but there are not many real world examples of this tech yet. We thought about how this technology could be applied to data protection.
Acronis believes that its blockchain-based Notary system could be expanded further to provide further solutions including the protection of intellectual property, the recording of evidence in court documents, providing the provenance, and ownership of digital contracts, among several others.
Due to the blockchain’s immutability and its ability to efficiently and securely record and store data, it would not be surprising to see the distributed ledger technology becoming the norm of data storage in the future. Similar blockchain solutions are already emerging in the cloud storage and cyber security space.