This article was first published on Insights – Ripple
By its decentralized nature, a blockchain is extremely difficult to hack. That does not mean that digital assets and wallets built on the technology are invulnerable, which is why the organizations behind them spend so much time thinking about security.
However, according to Stefanie Roos of the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, the blockchain industry will soon have to give equal attention to privacy concerns. Though she admits this idea may come as a surprise to those people who enjoy the anonymity of Bitcoin.
“Because you don’t have to enter your real name, people believe that Bitcoin is very privacy preserving,” says Stefanie. “But when someone keeps reusing the same information, it’s possible to track everything they do. If you can link that profile to a real person then you can see all their activity.”
Stefanie is assistant professor for distributed systems at the university, having completed an award-winning PhD thesis on the subject before working at Canada’s University of Waterloo. She’s well versed in using decentralized technology for payments having developed SpeedyMurmurs, a peer-to-peer system that takes a path-based transaction approach similar to Bitcoin’s Lightning Network.
Today, much of her focus is on ways to create flexible anonymity for blockchain-based payments, especially for enterprise transactions. Businesses paying suppliers on a public blockchain could inadvertently reveal details about products or services they’re developing to competitors. While private blockchain are the obvious solution, Stefanie believes public technology with appropriate anonymity could be more beneficial.
“Think of systems where anonymity is temporal,” she says. “You get privacy for the time that you need it. If you want to have transparency later on, you can reveal the relevant cryptographic keys to demonstrate that you complied with regulatory requirements, show off your high-quality suppliers or to prove a patent case.”
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