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How Blockchain Ensures Data Integrity

What is Blockchain?

A blockchain is essentially a distributed database of records or a public ledger of all transactions or digital events that have been executed and shared among participating parties. 

Each transaction in the public ledger is verified by the consensus of the participants in the system. Once entered, information can never be erased. The blockchain contains a verifiable record of every single transaction ever made.

What is Data Integrity?

Data integrity refers to the reliability and trustworthiness of data. It involves the maintenance of, and the assurance of the accuracy and consistency of data over its entire life-cycle. Data integrity can be compromised in several ways. Each time data is replicated or transferred, it should remain intact and unaltered between updates. Validation procedures and error checking methods are essential to ensure the integrity and authenticity of the data transferred.

Blockchain and Data Integrity:

Blockchain is perhaps the solution to improve data integrity to the highest standards possible. By design, blockchains are inherently resistant to the modification of data. Blockchain ledgers are immutable, meaning that if data additions or transactions have been made, it cannot be edited or deleted.

Moreover, blockchains are not only a data structure, but also a timekeeping mechanism for the data structure. Therefore, proof of the history of data is easily reportable and updated to the second. 

One aspect of blockchain technology that is particularly important for improved data integrity is the Merkle Tree. This ensures the integrity of the data in the blockchain. A Merkle Tree is a fundamental component of blockchains which uses cryptographic hash functions. 

Every block stores transaction data in the form of a Merkle Tree, which can be known as a data structure. In it, hashes of child nodes are combined into the parent node’s header. This technique continues iteratively until a final, or root node is reached. This root node acts as a fingerprint for the entire tree, containing all the information. Merkle Trees provide the hash-based architecture for blockchains to be able to maintain data integrity and a secure way to verify the integrity of data as well.

Merkle Tree

Blockchain Technology that ensures the security of stored data:

Hash identification and data divided into blocks

When data from the supply chain is inserted into a structure based on blockchain technology, that data is divided into blocks. These blocks are distributed in different devices that participate in this production chain.

Each block of this data contains, in addition to the production data, a unique identification called the ‘Hash’, as well as the ‘Hash’ of the block before it, which identifies another part of this same data. The blockchain of data is then formed by this ‘hash’ identification of the block itself, and the block prior to it.

When any unauthorised alteration or attempted manipulation occurs in one of the blocks in this chain, the ‘Hash’ number is changed. Consequently, all points in this network that have access to these transactions will cause inconsistency of the improper alteration and it will not validate this new information entered. If the data entered is not validated, it will not be part of this blockchain causing the hashtag non-receipt needed to link it to the other data blocks.

Proof-of-work (PoW)

Another tool to prevent improper access and change of data blocks is proof-of-work. A blockchain condition in which to create a new data block must wait several minutes. Therefore, in case of an external attack on the data of one of the blocks, it would be necessary to recreate the following blocks to redo the hash numbers so that they can be identified, and the attack is not noticed. But thanks to proof-to-work, there is no time for it.

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