Blockchain has been making quite a buzz recently. Who would have thought that when the technology was launched in 2008 that it will have a market value of more than $700 million in the next nine years? Not to mention that many believe that by 2020, it’s market value will reach $60 billion.
While blockchain was only linked with cryptocurrency previously, the technology is now thriving on its own. It is being used in various industries, whether it be the auto industry or the banking sector. Blockchain technology has become so popular that even Facebook is considering it for data authentication and Login.
The case for Blockchain: Does it benefit data authentication?
The world has gone digital. There are various benefits of this migration in terms of convenience. However, at the same time, it has caused a rise in identity theft. We are sure you wouldn’t want someone stealing your credit card information and making hefty purchases in your name.
Blockchain has opened avenues for protecting our identities from being stolen. While the technology is still in the early phases in this regard, the fact remains that it can act as an excellent authentication provider. It allows you to prove your identity digitally. This makes authentication for government offices, banks and airports quite an easy process. Rather than carrying your proof of identification with you and risking it of being stolen, blockchain allows you to do it all digitally.
Yet, this process is immensely safe. This is because it uses key-pair for registration of identity. All personal information is stored in the shape of hashes. These hashes can be used to extract various types of information, including identity number, name, and social security number. The user can also ask a recognized body to verify the data stored in the blockchain. This means whenever an organization or institution requires your identity; they can merely use blockchain hash to authenticate you.
The need for blockchain: Facebook’s battle with data breaches and scandals
Facebook has over 2.32 billion active users. It is by far the most used social media platform out there. What started as a mere platform for people to connect has become much more over the years. Due to the massive audience, it caters to; Facebook has become an excellent place for businesses to address their target audience.
With such immense traffic on the site, it comes as no surprise that the social media platform has had its fair share of security issues and scandals. Two of them stand out, including the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the recent data breach.
Facebook came under fire during the USA elections. Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, was able to extract user information of more than 87 million Facebook users. While Facebook didn’t sell the data to the firm, as previously thought, the firm was able to use Facebook’s feature of third-party apps to get people to answer a quiz and extract their data when they do so. Even though Facebook prohibits the selling of data even through third-party integrations, Cambridge Analytica did it. Many claims that the data proved to be pivotal in targeting voters and influencing them, thereby leading to Trump’s win the elections.
September 2018 Data Breach
The worst data breach happened on September 16, 2018, when engineers at Facebook detected activity in the platform which they classified as “unusual.” The network had, in fact, been compromised. By September 25, the security lapse had been identified and fixed.
During the data breach, hackers gained access to over 50 million accounts on Facebook. This means hackers were able to see posts, videos, photos, private messages of over 50 million people. They had access to information like their full name, birth date, gender, hometown, and mobile numbers. Third-party accounts were also impacted. However, the intensity of the impact was not revealed by the company. It did confirm that no credit card information had been compromised during the breach.
To mitigate the impact of the data breach, Facebook automatically logged out over 90 million users from the accounts from the platforms they had saved it on. Users were required to log back in to continue using Facebook.
As per the official reports, Facebook believes that the “View as” feature had bugs that hackers were able to exploit. While this feature usually allows people to see their page as someone else, hackers used this feature to log into other account holders. Overall, there were three bugs on the platform that added on to the security flaw. The “View as” feature bug, video uploading and Facebook’s recent feature for making it easy for people to post birthday wishes all had security flaws that compounded and caused the breach.
The data breach caused a lot of talk among users about the security of the platform and the vulnerability of their data. Some might wonder if this is why Facebook is considering taking a step towards blockchain.
Facebook considers blockchain
Recently, Mark Zuckerberg showed interest in using the blockchain for authorizing logins and validating accounts of users. This was announced in an interview conducted by a Harvard Law Professor on 20th February 2019.
As per Zuckerberg, Facebook was looking into cryptocurrencies and blockchain to decentralize the internet and hence safe keep data. Zuckerberg believed that Facebook has the power to be the decentralizing force of the digital world. By using blockchain technology, Facebook can give autonomy to its users and reduce the centralized approach of the company.
Ever since the Cambridge Analytica scandal and recent data breaches, the need to decentralize the control of data has become essential for the company. Zuckerberg went ahead to explain the process during the interview. Blockchain on Facebook can allow you to take your data and store it in a decentralized system. Then, you have the choice to log in directly without the need for any intermediaries.
Zuckerberg did point out the flaws in this approach as well. Even though it would give more control to users over their data, it can also lead to an increase in abuse of data and reversing the effect can get difficult.
This is because, in a decentralized system, Facebook won’t be able to cut off access. So, in the case of breaches, the company won’t be able to take any corrective actions. This means that the stakes are quite high if one opts for a blockchain solution. Even though it is easy to hold companies like Google or Facebook accountable, the same cannot be said for third-party apps.
Zuckerberg also went ahead to admit that Facebook is yet to figure out how the technology can be implemented on the social media platform, especially in the case of log-in authentication. Apart from giving more control to users regarding how their data is used and accessed, the log-in authentication system can also help in keeping hackers at bay due to the encryption of data.
Time will tell if Facebook indeed does implement blockchain technology to improve its security and authentication standing. The fact remains that it is in dire need to take sustainable action to combat the issues.