Friday, May 27, 2022

IronWeave: blockchain security at enterprise scale

Beyond facilitating Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, Blockchain is a potential remedy to global challenges such as data insecurity. But fundamental limitations stand in the way of its adoption by large businesses; chief among them is scalability.

Blockchain technologies work by creating sequential, traceable blocks of data stored on what is known as a distributed ledger. No central location houses the data, protecting against interference and offering robust security. 

“All other blockchains are what I call monolithic,” explains David Iseminger, the CEO and founder of Upheaval. Blocks of data are limited to serial creation, putting inherent bounds on scale, performance, and flexibility, he says. 

Consequently, many business applications are not achievable using conventional, cumbersome approaches. That includes the on-chain critical data storage that would protect companies from ransomware.

That is, until now.

Ransomware works by accessing and then encrypting a victim’s data. It is an enormous and growing multi-billion-dollar problem. Solutions to lessen its impact are long overdue. Upheaval claims to have an answer.

IronWeave is a patented blockchain fabric with theoretically unlimited scalability, David says, adding that its speed and scaling potential make it well-suited to enterprise-level data security.

“With IronWeave, you cannot re-write data. It is permanent. It is immutable. And it’s read-only — it can’t be encrypted,” David explains. Even if hackers were to access the data, there is no clear way they could alter it.

David maintains that many other applications beyond data protection become feasible when you achieve IronWeave’s 1.6 million transactions per second, a speed unmatched by other existing blockchain platforms.

Multidimensional blockchain

How is this possible? 

Block creation on IronWeave is different. It happens in parallel, rather than merely sequentially, and rather than creating blocks every few minutes, it does so every few milliseconds, David says. The company has a visual demo tool that shows this process in real-time; needless to say, it does not take long to watch it in action.

When two participating chains interact on IronWeave, a shared block is created and placed on each participant’s chain. The shared block contains a hash — a digital fingerprint — from each participant chain’s previous block. The result is not one chain, but a web of interwoven data chains, each with military-grade encryption, and each individual block with its own independent encryption keys. 

The more interactions there are, the greater the number of chains reinforcing one another. If a hacker were to try to change one block, they would need to change every chain that had ever been a participant in any other interaction, David explains.

In addition, when any shared block is created, multiple automatic duplicates are sent to nodes at various geographical regions. “Even if a ransomware hacker were able to somehow damage a single block, we could just reconstitute it from one of our other nodes,” David says.

Destined for the enterprise 

IronWeave was developed with enterprises specifically in mind. True to the company’s vision of a world of secure data where people can focus on their business, IronWeave comes ready to use — much like a cloud service — complete with integrated data analytics.

Companies need not worry about running nodes, determining their consensus mechanisms, deciding who can write blocks, or who is in the environment, David explains — “We take the first four steps and just make it easy for you: with IronWeave you start with your business logic.” 

If they wish, companies can create a walled garden of their data with all the benefits of IronWeave, but that no one else can touch. Or they can choose to have a special purpose chain that exists on the edge, linking their data securely with their partners and customers.

Unlike other examples, IronWeave is a private blockchain. Participants must register with the company to make use of it. The system lacks the anonymity of certain blockchains, and it also gives up some of its decentralisation, with the provider operating the managed nodes in the system. But the compensation is exceptional speed, scalability, and increased trust, David says.

“The reason that we use proof of authority, and we are a permissioned system, is to ensure that enterprises can depend on the security and the integrity of the system overall ­— that they can thrive there without having to worry about bad actors,” David explains.

Expansive versatility

But data security is the tip of the iceberg, David says. On top of what are already noteworthy credentials, IronWeave has a host of additional applications.

The solution is cloud-agnostic and coding language-agnostic. It can be deployed anywhere and interacted with using any modern programming language. This again keeps things simple for customers.

Unlike many of its competitors, IronWeave is also highly flexible in terms of the sizes and formats of data blocks.

“With IronWeave you can have a small IoT update, and have that be the only block, or it can be an MRI, or it can be patient documents. It can be a few hundred K or a one-megabyte block,” David explains. IronWeave simply does not care.

Because of this flexibility, IronWeave can be used to create systems for secure digital credentials, geographical data residency policies, digital health platforms, real-time supply chain tracking, and IoT security and integration.

IronWeave relies on an event-driven rather than a polling architecture. This means that blocks are only created when they need to be, rather than at set time intervals. This further optimises the energy costs, giving the technology a relatively low environmental footprint. 

On top of this, David’s self-proclaimed obsession with optimisation, stemming back to his work with Microsoft, has relentlessly squeezed the solution for ever greater efficiency and performance.

“With Bitcoin, it’s all that computational power that is causing that energy consumption. We’re the opposite, we want it to be as computationally efficient as possible,” he says.

Upheaval is self-funded and is currently engaged in client acquisition. The company completed all testing of IronWeave internally over the past three years, before emerging from stealth this summer once a patent was granted.

Mark Swift
Mark Swifthttps://europatter.com/
Mark Swift is a Scottish freelance journalist and writer based in Paris. His work covers business, technology, European politics, and EU policy. Before writing for 4i-mag, he was a journalist for Young Company Finance Scotland, covering investment in Scottish technology start-ups. Mark's portfolio can be found here: muckrack.com/mark-swift-1/portfolio

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