Watch a short overview of Internet limitations, including security and identity from a business perspective.
- Let's be blunt about this, the internet is amazing, and it's changing the world. While recognizing that we still have 50% of the world's population to connect, the internet has fundamentally touched almost all aspects of life for half our planet and, undoubtedly, has impacts on the other 50% too. The internet plays a role in how we work, learn, communicate, play, and so much more. It has significantly impacted industries like newspapers and brick-and-mortar retail, reinvented others like how we manage our money, and created new industries such as social media and online dating.
You get it, the internet has been a big deal and continues to be. In fact, the most disruptive days of the internet may still be ahead of us. Some have said that we're still in the opening act. Of course, it's easy to focus on all the positives of the internet, such as low-cost communications anywhere in the world, low barriers to setting up and running a global online business, and new ways to access healthcare information and services. We'd be kidding ourselves if we didn't recognize that the vast network of networks didn't have some stubborn problems associated with it.
Beyond some of the obvious, social media trolling, software viruses, online fraud, fake news, and criminal hacking, the internet often struggles with the fundamental challenges of trust. We face ongoing questions such as is the person you are doing business with online really who they say they are? Is a service real? And are only authorized people granted access to private systems? Of course, we could all think of hundreds of other examples of trust on the internet.
Healthy ecosystems rely on trust. Now, this being said, we've done wonders with existing technology. In addition to usernames and passwords, we now use two-factor authentication, which requires more effort to validate an identity for an individual. For example, after entering a username and password on a laptop computer, a user may be asked to enter another code that is sent separately to the person's mobile phone. We have firewalls and intrusion detection systems, hardware installed for that works to block bad internet traffic, we have biometrics, such as using your fingerprint for access, and CAPTCHAs, those online boxes that require you to type in letters and numbers from a photograph to prove you're not a computer.
With these mechanisms for security and trust, we've come a long way, and yet we still get hacked. Our systems and databases are compromised, made unavailable, money and identities are stolen, and our confidence to innovate even further using the internet is stifled and, at worst, impeded. If we want ironclad online voting, workable digital currencies, confidence in machines talking to machines, self-driving cars that securely negotiate with each other, improved and seamless methods to authenticate identity, and more, we're going to need a more secure and trustworthy internet.
To enable Bitcoin, the world's most successful online currency, in a topic we'll explore in detail later, a new mechanism for establishing trust was required. This was the blockchain. And while the blockchain may change the game in security and trust, it may enable a lot more. If we're going to enter the next chapter of innovation and positive disruption using the internet, it may well be the blockchain that opens the door.
Jonathan begins by describing some of the current challenges with the Internet, including existing risks and security problems such as identity management. Next, he describes how traditional online databases function, so that you have a basis for how the blockchain redesigns this function. He then describes how the blockchain becomes a potential solution for many of the existing limitations of online databases. Since the blockchain has its genesis in Bitcoin—the digital currency—he provides some background on that too. He also discusses how blockchain technology actually offers new capabilities beyond simply solving old problems. To wrap up the course, Jonathan shares steps you can take in your organization to understand the implications of the blockchain.
- Risk and security challenges
- Rethinking the traditional database
- What is the blockchain?
- What problems does the blockchain solve?
- Transforming transactions
- Examples of the blockchain in action
- Obstacles to blockchain adoption
- Risks to existing solutions and enterprises