How blockchain technology is helping to prove authenticity

Blockchain authentication for digital identity, record-keeping, and artwork has the power to eliminate bureaucracy and reduce fraud to zero

In a world of fake news, scams, and identity theft, it’s getting harder than ever to establish business relationships based on trust. Blockchain authentication could help prove the integrity and genuineness of records and even provide digital proof of identity for people.

In the US, authorities in certain states have been working on new state laws to recognise signatures, smart contracts, and even public data recorded via blockchain technology. Other countries, such as Estonia, are also incorporating blockchain technology into their public record-keeping.

It’s a first step that could lead to more transparency in public records management. It could also generate an authentication provider for people, documents, and even artwork.

Right now, however, this technology is at a very early stage. But blockchain adoption is growing in many industries, from retail to banking and insurance services. It’s just a matter of time until we use blockchain to prove authenticity as well. Here’s how.

Proof of authenticity for document management

Blockchain technology can improve document and public records management in multiple ways. Just by registering an event on a blockchain, you automatically prove its authenticity. That’s because every document is linked to a unique address and receives a hash on a public blockchain.

You can think of a hash as similar to being the ‘fingerprint’ of a file. Every time someone makes the smallest change to the record, they also alter the hash. This ability to remember every modification makes hashes perfect for demonstrating the authenticity of a document.

This property also works when other people besides the author copy and store the file. It’s the independent proof that a document was created at a specific moment in time and hasn’t been changed since.

Just imagine the potential for blockchain authentication to reduce bureaucracy for certifying legal documents or financial statements. At the same time, it can help register audit-trail documentation for proof of process, as the blockchain tracks every movement. This includes who made changes, when they happened, and for how long each change was valid.

Most blockchains support multiple file formats. This means the user could record and store all files in the original form, whether they’re written in Excel, PPT, or CAD. This means that they don’t have to risk compromising the data by converting files into a PDF format for archiving.

Proof of authenticity of IoT (Internet of Things) devices

The manufacturing industry has been implementing IoT-driven technology to increase automation levels and improve efficiency. As more companies adopt this technology, they may need proof of authenticity to connect to the blockchain.

Currently, IoT devices are already functioning in companies’ systems, and their number continues to grow at a high rate. However, they often come from different manufacturers located in various countries.

If someone cloned or substituted such a device for illicit purposes, it would take days or weeks before the company discovered the scam and verified the data with the hardware provider. That’s more than enough time for third parties to have easy access to a company’s data and core information.

This means that the identification of these devices in real time will become a necessity in the next few years. Blockchain authentication could be a cost-effective solution for providing unaltered data about any device.

Blockchain authentication against identity theft

Identity fraud can happen to anyone. In 2017, authorities registered 174,523 incidents in the UK alone, and most of them happened online. Managing digital identities comes with relatively high risks, as most of our personal devices can be easily compromised.

Blockchain authentication could minimise the risks of identity theft. With a key-pair system in place, similar to the one used for cryptocurrency wallets, people could authenticate themselves using a unique digital identity registered on the blockchain.

Just as with records, users would have unique addresses to store their data, together with hashes for each attribute. This could include information such as identity number, name, or fingerprints.

Each person could access this information using a unique password, and any change in someone’s data would be automatically registered on the blockchain.

Over time, this could become a convenient way of authenticating someone’s identity for accessing financial and banking information, public services, and even passport control in airports.

Blockchain art provenance

In the art world, the term provenance refers to the list of transactions that illustrates an artwork’s movement from one owner to another. Ideally, these documents should prove a piece’s history from the moment it left the original owner (the artist) to the present.

The older and more valuable the artwork, the higher the volume of paperwork that comes with it. Shipping labels, gallery bills, and exhibition and auction records are just some of the documents that usually demonstrate that a piece of art is an original.

As with all paper documents, provenance can be easily falsified, and fake artworks are sold as originals for millions of dollars.

Blockchain authentication could reduce the risks of forgery to a minimum. Documents that prove the authenticity of any artwork could be recorded and stored on the blockchain by certification boards. And living artists could use the blockchain to authenticate and certify their art.

From that moment on, any change in ownership would automatically appear on the blockchain, eliminating the risks of forgery. Moreover, with continued advancements online, buying and selling art pieces is becoming easier, as there’s no need for middlemen, such as galleries and art dealers, to validate transactions and authenticate artwork.

The takeaway

Blockchain authentication could be the next big thing in proving the authenticity of documents and artwork, as well as personal identity. Thanks to blockchain’s core characteristics, it enables high levels of security while reducing the risks of forgery, scams, and identity fraud.

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