Blockchain Security Beefed up by Accenture

Accenture Plc their deployment in sectors such as finance could be sped up and help make blockchain applications more secure by a new technology that it says it has developed.

Storing of security credentials by the blockchain users in highly secure processors that are specifically designed to safeguard passwords and “digital keys” and hardware security modules (HSM), would be made much easier by a system that the professional services firm unveiled on Wednesday.

A shared record of transactions that is maintained by a network of computers on the internet, instead of a centralized authority, is Blockchain, which first emerged as the system powering crypto-currency bitcoin. In hopes that it can help simplify cumbersome processes such as securities settlement and international payments, banks and other large financial institutions have been ramping up their investments in blockchain.

“It (Accenture’s new technology) is a significant development but it is also not a development that is going to be visible at the front-end of things,” said Martha Bennett, a principle analyst working with chief information officers for research house Forrester. “It is one of those absolutely essential pieces in the puzzle that makes an end-to-end blockchain deployment actually work.”

Concerns over security have, in part, slowed down the deployment of the nascent technology by financial institutions.

Users that possess cryptographic keys, which have traditionally been stored in “cyberwallets”, can only access and edit information on a blockchain. Accenture said that “cyberwallets” are deemed not sufficiently secure by financial institutions, which are used to storing their digital keys in HSMs as these have been previously hacked and their contents stolen.

It has been proved that it becomes complex and time consuming to code blockchain applications to work with HSMs. For their blockchain applications in HSMs, Accenture’s platform makes it possible for banks to store digital keys automatically.

Blockchain applications using code developed by the Linux Foundation-led Hyperledger group and HSMs from security company Thales are currently used by the company. But use to all types of blockchain protocols and HSMs are being planned to be expanded by the company.

In recent times, more financial institutions are seeking to take some of the blockchain prototypes they have tested over the past year into the real world and Accenture’s technology comes at such a time.

While this is one end of the spectrum, at the other end are those who believe that blockchian technology will take several years before the technology will yield benefits for large companies and have expressed concern that blockchain’s potential may be over-hyped.

On the other hand, the digital currency bitcoin saw a dip after reports of a meeting between Chinese authorities and representatives of bitcoin companies and exchanges were made public.

After sources at bitcoin exchanges in China said the People’s Bank of China had summoned some smaller exchanges to a closed-door meeting, the price of bitcoin fell from one-month highs on Wednesday.

It was investigating trading at some of the biggest Chinese players to fend off market risks, the central bank announced last month.

As China seeks to stem a flow of capital out of the country that has put pressure on the yuan, market participants worry Beijing will seek to clamp down on domestic bitcoin trading.

(Adapted from Reuters)

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