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Blockchain: What it is and how does it works?

posted by Akash Chaudhary on 18/Feb/2019

The 21st century is all about technology. With the increasing need for modernization in our day-to-day lives, people are open to accepting new technologies. From using a remote for controlling devices to using voice notes for giving commands; modern technology has made space in our regular lives. Technologies like augmented reality and IoT that have gained pace in the past decade and now there’s a new addition to the pack i.e. Blockchain Technology.

Blockchain – The revolutionary technology impacting different industries miraculously was introduced in the markets with its very first modern application Bitcoin. Bitcoin is nothing but a form of digital currency (cryptocurrency) which can be used in the place of fiat money for trading. And the underlying technology behind the success of cryptocurrencies is termed as Blockchain.

There’s a common misconception among people that Bitcoin and Blockchain are one and the same, however, that is not the case. Creating cryptocurrencies is one of the applications of Blockchain technology and other than Bitcoin, there are numerous applications that are being developed on the basis of the blockchain technology.

What is Blockchain?

In the simplest terms, Blockchain can be described as a data structure that holds transactional records and while ensuring security, transparency, and decentralization. You can also think of it as a chain or records stored in the forms of blocks which are controlled by no single authority. A blockchain is a distributed ledger that is completely open to any and everyone on the network. Once an information is stored on a blockchain, it is extremely difficult to change or alter it.

Each transaction on a blockchain is secured with a digital signature that proves its authenticity. Due to the use of encryption and digital signatures, the data stored on the blockchain is tamper-proof and cannot be changed.

Blockchain technology allows all the network participants to reach an agreement, commonly known as consensus. All the data stored on a blockchain is recorded digitally and has a common history which is available for all the network participants. This way, the chances of any fraudulent activity or duplication of transactions is eliminated without the need of a third-party.

In order to understand blockchain better, consider an example where you are looking for an option to send some money to your friend who lives in a different location. A general option that you can normally use can be a bank or via a payment transfer application like PayPal or Paytm. This option involves third parties in order to process the transaction due to which an extra amount of your money is deducted as transferring fee. Moreover, in cases like these, you cannot ensure the security of your money as it is highly possible that a hacker might disrupt the network and steal your money. In both the cases, it is the customer who suffers. This is where Blockchain comes in.

Instead of using a bank for transferring money, if we use a blockchain in such cases, the process becomes much easier and secure. There is no extra fee involved as the funds are directly processed by you thus, eliminating the need for a third party. Moreover, the blockchain database is decentralized and is not limited to any single location meaning that all the information and records kept on the blockchain are public and decentralized. Since the information is not stored in a single place, there’s no chance of corruption of the information by any hacker.

How does it work?

A blockchain is a chain of blocks that contain data or information. Despite being discovered earlier, the first successful and popular application of the Blockchain technology came into being in the year 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto. He created the first digital cryptocurrency called Bitcoin through the use of Blockchain technology. Let’s understand how a blockchain actually works.

Each block in a blockchain network stores some information along with the hash of its previous block. A hash is a unique mathematical code which belongs to a specific block. If the information inside the block is modified, the hash of the block will be subject to modification too. The connection of blocks through unique hash keys is what makes blockchain secure.

While transactions take place on a blockchain, there are nodes on the network that validate these transactions. In Bitcoin blockchain, these nodes are called as miners and they use the concept of proof-of-work in order to process and validate transactions on the network. In order for a transaction to be valid, each block must refer to the hash of its preceding block. The transaction will take place only and only if the hash is correct. If a hacker tries to attack the network and change information of any specific block, the hash attached to the block will also get modified.

The breach will be detected as the modified hash will not match with the original one. This ensures that the blockchain is unalterable as if any change which is made to the chain of blocks will be reflected throughout the entire network and will be detected easily.

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About the Author

Akash Chaudhary
Member since Jan/2019

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