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Expert views

Does blockchain technology alleviate security concerns or create new challenges?

Put simply, a blockchain is a shared database providing a token manager and programmable transactions that can be updated securely by many different actors in a network. All changes made to the blockchain are logged, effectively leaving a complete audit trail of data.

There is no reason to believe that blockchain technology represents a greater cybersecurity threat than classic database technology. Like databases, blockchains are layered and the insertion of a block is much the same as adding code into databases. Users are exposed to the same level of risk as they are when injecting code into a database.

In looking at blockchain security, technologists and system architects ask the same questions and have the same issues with security as they have with classic database architectures. What is different is the way of organising security. When a blockchain is distributed, a public key infrastructure (PKI) is set up and keys are distributed to users or to the system that has access to the blockchain and can introduce transactions into the chain. Again, this is a relatively classic PKI approach, which is well known to security specialists.

Blockchain uses very classic technology, on top of which sits a consensus engine. This is what makes a blockchain environment such a new concept.

Damien Jamet
Chief Data Officer

Blockchain solves the problem of who has responsibility for adding something into a database when it is distributed. It is an algorithmic way of solving this problem. But behind this capability is very standard technology, which has been assembled in a very smart way to create something new.

In looking at blockchain security, technologists and system architects ask the same questions and have the same issues with security as they have with classic database architectures.

Christophe van Cauwenberghe
Head of Payment Innovation

It is very early days for blockchain technology and it is not yet fully understood. Much of the experimentation with blockchain involves a mix of the technology with other, more classic applications. Not everything can be done by the blockchain, for example, you cannot attach a file. Developers must deal with diversity in the data and dealing with some of the issues is complex; there is not one way of doing things.

Damien Jamet Chief Data Officer Societe Generale Securities Services
Christophe van Cauwenberghe Head of Payment Innovation GTPS Societe Generale