Chinese software engineers claim to have developed a method to safeguard blockchain networks from potentially harmful privacy breaches.
Called Chang’An Chain or Chainmaker, its creators are confident it can protect sensitive or private information transfers from both conventional and increasingly sophisticated quantum attacks.
Chainmaker was created by a team of scientists representing the Beijing Academy of Blockchain and Edge Computing, in collaboration with several prominent tech and IT heavyweights, including Baidu, Tencent and universities from Tsinghua and Beihang.
While blockchain technology has only recently become a more popular concept, the technology has been worked on and studied for about as long as the internet has been around.
The concept was popularised in 2008 by a person or group using the pen name, Satoshi Nakamoto – the identity is still hotly debated today. Nakamoto used blockchain to serve as a ledger for Bitcoin transactions.
Blockchain essentially is an ever-growing list of digital public transactions linked together and secured using a cryptographic hash. These hashes offer significant protection as they are unique to each transaction and nearly impossible to reverse.
In 1994, mathematician Peter Shaw theorised that quantum computers could be used to find the prime numbers of incredibly large numbers. This would jeopardise conventional secure communications and kickstart the need for more advanced means of protection.
According to a China News Service report, Chainmaker adds a “post-quantum digital signature” to the blockchain, essentially adding an extra layer of defence, particularly to quantum computer attacks which can overcome most security measures using computational brute force.
The Chainmaker development team incorporated some clever tricks to improve chain fidelity. While assigning classic hash functions, the Chinese blockchain platform goes a step further by assigning complex math functions and proof-of-work problems.
The team reported in June 2021 that it had installed a 96-core processor that promises 20 times faster signature verification and 50 times smart contract processing on the network.
Programmers and mathematicians are under no illusion about the scale of their mission. Developing solutions for increasingly powerful quantum attacks is critical to the industry, even if the next fully-fledged quantum computer takes a decade to build, president of QuantumCtek, Zhao Yong, told state media. With a colleague confirming that the cost of rectifying a potentially disastrous assault could be huge and the industry should plan ahead.
The blockchain has become somewhat synonymous with tokens like Bitcoin and Ethereum but its utility goes beyond cryptocurrency. At last year’s COVID-affected Beijing Winter Games, the Chainmaker platform made its debut. It was for food origin verification, a carbon trading scheme and supply chain financing.