Blockchain technology holds the potential to dramatically enhance global commerce and every supply chain. Unfortunately, the first real-world experience many organizations have had with it is using its implementation vis-à-vis Bitcoin to pay a ransom to cybercriminals who have encrypted their company’s files. The good news is that vendors like Nexsan see the upside of blockchain and are using it for more noble purposes: protecting files stored on its Unity Active Archive appliances.
Blockchain technology is on the verge of becoming really big. As in HUGE big. In a 2016 TED Talk, Don Tapscott referred to it as the technology that is likely to have the greatest impact in the next few decades for one simple reason: it facilitates the creation of trust. In fact, in the video he calls it “the trust protocol.”
This brings me to Nexsan and its use of blockchain technology in its Active Archive product. Why does Nexsan use blockchain? So users can trust that when they go to retrieve a file, they know it will be available in its original, undefiled state.
In the case of the Unity Active Archive, whenever it ingests a file, it stores two copies of the file and generates two cryptographic file hashes or digital fingerprints. It stores those fingerprints separately, in a hardened private blockchain internal to the device.
These digital fingerprints are more than a “just-in-case” technology. Rather, they are used in automated file integrity audits. These audits guard the data from silent data corruption. When it discovers a mismatch between an original fingerprint and a fingerprint generated during an audit, it replaces the corrupted file using the other copy of the file from the archive’s object store.
If you are like me, you are sick and tired of seeing criminals use the latest, greatest technologies like blockchain for nefarious purposes. Nexsan’s use of blockchain technology to protect files in its Active Archive is particularly satisfying to me on two levels. Not only does it provide a great way to verify file authenticity, it does it using the very technology that cybercriminals are using to get paid and avoid detection by authorities. I cannot think of a better way to capitalize on blockchain technology while playing turnabout on cybercriminals at the same time. Kudos to Nexsan for doing so!