I think for many people out there, Blockchain is this phenomenon, which is hard to get your head around. I started watching videos and reading articles, but for me personally, it wasn’t until I wrote my own simple Blockchain, that I truly understood what it is and the potential applications for it.
The way I think about blockchain is it is an encrypted database that is public. If you were Amazon and you wanted to use the technology to track your stock levels, would using Blockchain make sense? Probably not, since your customers won’t want to expend their resources verifying your blockchain, since they state on their website, ‘Only 1 left!’, anyway.
I’ll leave you to think about future applications. So without further ado, lets set up our 7 functions!
Ethereum is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts, applications that run exactly as programmed without possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference. In this blog post I will take you through all the steps required in setting up a fully functioning private ethereum blockchain, inside your local network — which includes:
- Setting up a private blockchain with ethereum using geth.
- Setting up the MetaMask ethereum wallet to work with the private blockchain.
- Transfer funds between multiple accounts.
- Create, deploy and invoke a smart contract on the private blockchain using remix.
- Setting up ethereum block explorer over the private blockchain.
Kind of a big deal. You’d have to be a total square not to have heard about them. Me? I’ve got eight.
Often over-complicated, over-mysticised, over-singularised (I don’t even know what the right word for it is, but people say The Blockchain a lot). What are they? Join me for a rough tour from the ground up and I’ll try to make sure you leave here knowing the answer to one question:
What are people talking about when they talk about blockchains?
There’s a lot to cover, so it’s actually going to come in two parts. This, the first, will look at the data structures known as blockchains and their properties, along with any other bits and pieces you need to make sense of them.
The second part will apply what you’ve learnt to the practical and widespread applications of blockchains to power distributed ledgers, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Litecoin and smart-contract based chains like Etherium.
This guide is meant to serve as both an easy-to-understand introduction to the world of cryptocurrencies as well as an insightful view into the different projects competing for your investments and market dominance and a look at the underlying technology, history and trends.
For many years Bitcoin would occasionally appear in the media after it spiked in price. I didn’t think there was anything inherently useful about it. I thought it was a novelty, a ponzi scheme, hysteria. It was only after the most recent price spike in another cryptocurrency, Ethereum, that the crazy returns finally tempted me. What started out as a skeptical look into a get-rich-quick scheme led me down a rabbit hole and my mind was promptly blown at the potential of the technology. The hype surrounding it is nothing short of mania, but it’s not without merit. Cryptocurrencies will almost certainly revolutionize everything from insurance, logistics and the stock market to ownership and even create entire economies which don’t currently exist. You may feel skeptical when hearing something so optimistic but when banks, governments and research institutions start to take notice and want to work with these projects maybe it’s time we paid some attention.
Many of you reading may be likening the current craze with the dotcom bubble and I’m afraid I absolutely agree with you. The speculation surrounding cryptocurrencies and the ease of which the average person can invest has created an environment where an idea can raise hundreds of millions of dollars without even a proof of concept. This is part of the reason this guide was written, to steer you clear of these massively overvalued “pet.com” equivalents and towards the future Amazons and Googles.
Cryptographic hash functions like SHA-1 are a cryptographer’s swiss army knife. You’ll find that hashes play a role in browser security, managing code repositories, or even just detecting duplicate files in storage. Hash functions compress large amounts of data into a small message digest. As a cryptographic requirement for wide-spread use, finding two messages that lead to the same digest should be computationally infeasible. Over time however, this requirement can fail due to attacks on the mathematical underpinnings of hash functions or to increases in computational power.
Today, 10 years after of SHA-1 was first introduced, we are announcing the first practical technique for generating a collision. This represents the culmination of two years of research that sprung from a collaboration between the CWI Institute in Amsterdam and Google. We’ve summarized how we went about generating a collision below. As a proof of the attack, we are releasing two PDFs that have identical SHA-1 hashes but different content.
For the tech community, our findings emphasize the necessity of sunsetting SHA-1 usage. Google has advocated the deprecation of SHA-1 for many years, particularly when it comes to signing TLS certificates. As early as 2014, the Chrome team announced that they would gradually phase out using SHA-1. We hope our practical attack on SHA-1 will cement that the protocol should no longer be considered secure.
We hope that our practical attack against SHA-1 will finally convince the industry that it is urgent to move to safer alternatives such as SHA-256.
Curated list of blockchain and general cryptocurrency resources
Table of Contents
Apache Milagro (incubating) establishes a new internet security framework purpose-built for cloud-connected app-centric software and IoT devices that require Internet scale. Milagro’s purpose is to provide a secure, free, and positive open source alternative to centralised and proprietary monolithic trust providers such as commercial certificate authorities and the certificate backed cryptosystems that rely on them.
Milagro is an open source, pairing-based cryptographic platform that delivers solutions for device and end user authentication, secure communications and fintech / blockchain security; issues challenging Cloud Providers and their customers. It does this without the need for certificate authorities, putting into place a new category of service providers called Distributed Trust Authorities (D-TA®).
Milagro’s M-Pin® protocol, and its existing open-source MIRACL® implementation on which MILAGRO is built, is already in use by Experian, NTT, Ingram Micro, and Gov.UK and rolled out to perform at Internet scale for Zero Password® multi-factor authentication and certificate-less HTTPS / secure channel.
Read why it’s time to move beyond PKI and the Milagro Proposal for A Distributed Trust Ecosystem .
Author Nick Sullivan worked for six years at Apple on many of its most important cryptography efforts before recently joining CloudFlare, where he is a systems engineer. He has a degree in mathematics from the University of Waterloo and a Masters in computer science with a concentration in cryptography from the University of Calgary. This post was originally written for the CloudFlare blog and has been lightly edited to appear on Ars.
Readers are reminded that elliptic curve cryptography is a set of algorithms for encrypting and decrypting data and exchanging cryptographic keys. Dual_EC_DRBG, the cryptographic standard suspected of containing a backdoor engineered by the National Security Agency, is a function that uses elliptic curve mathematics to generate a series of random-looking numbers from a seed. This primer comes two months after internationally recognized cryptographers called on peers around the world to adopt ECC to avert a possible “cryptopocalypse.”