Cryptocurrency and Blockchain technologies have the potential to be as powerful and disruptive as the internet itself. Database systems need to evolve to leverage Blockchain capabilities.
The Blockchain represents a new type of database:
They say history is written by the winners. In databases, history is written by the developer or the DBA. There’s no practical way to detect back-dating or tampering with historical data, but there’s no arguing with Blockchain data.
Once sealed on the Blockchain, historical data is immune from modification.
“Trust is a foundational feature of the Blockchain as the data written into it is immutable, and can never be changed, modified or removed.”https://on.wsj.com/2PJ1Wem
The immutability of data within a Blockchain constitutes a revolution in computer science. For the first time, we have a way of storing data which cannot be altered and whose creation data and integrity can be cryptographically proven.
Data in a traditional database can be altered at any time by a database administrator or a privileged developer. In contrast, data in a public Blockchain is immutable. We now have an absolute mathematical proof of the veracity and provenance of a data item.
Blockchain cryptographic proofs are increasingly being recognized as legal proofs. We can foresee a day in which Blockchain records are held to the same evidentiary standards as DNA or fingerprint records.
“The usage of a third-party Blockchain platform that is reliable without conflict of interests provides the legal ground for proving the intellectual infringement.”https://bit.ly/2R8dw3H
“A signature that is secured through Blockchain technology is considered to be in an electronic form and to be an electronic signature.”https://www.azleg.gov/
Blockchain legislation pending or passed in at least 18 US states.https://bit.ly/2L4Oksc
“A digital record electronically registered in a Blockchain shall be self-authenticating pursuant to Vermont Rule of Evidence 902.”https://bit.ly/2OFHNtS
Compared to a traditional DBMS, the Blockchain has many drawbacks:
High latency and
Limited data storage
No Schema or
ProvenDB layers on top of a standard database engine adding core Blockchain characteristics to the database. The resulting database respects all usual database “CRUD” operations (Create-Read-Update-Delete) but also provides the following:
By default, all versions of a data item are retained. Previous versions of a data item can be superseded, but original versions are never destroyed.
Selected versions of the database are hashed upon the Blockchain. These versions can be proven to have been created at the specified time and can be proven to have been unaltered.
To prove you created some content.
To prove the date of a legal or official document.
To prove that a document or data has not been tampered with or altered.
To prove the exact history (provenance) of some data.
Intellectual Property and
Media Management Solutions
Government and Regulatory
Audit and Access
ProvenDB can prove multiple documents with a single hash using a Merkle tree. We don’t need a whole tree to prove an individual document that is included in the final hash - we only need the “Merkle path.” Thousands of documents can be included in a single Merkle tree - all anchored to a single Blockchain transaction.
A hash is a mathematical “signature” of a document - a digital fingerprint. The chances of two documents having the same hash are infinitesimally small. Hashes are far, far more precise proofs of document identity than DNA or fingerprints.
ProvenDB can generate proofs for a database version or a single document. Although only the hash for a complete version is anchored on the Blockchain, ProvenDB can supply a Merkle tree path which provides cryptographic proof that a given document was included within the Blockchain hash. In this way, users of ProvenDB may obtain proofs for individual documents that can be validated without the need to access any other documents within the database.
ProvenDB presents a MongoDB compatible API to the database user. Every change to the database creates a new logical version within the database. The user can view the older versions at any time.
The database user requests a proof be placed on the Blockchain for a specific version. This proof can be used to prove the timestamp of the entire version or any document in that version.
Blockchain is sometimes called “the world’s worst database”; it offers truly terrible transactional throughput and storage costs. For instance, the Ethereum Blockchain can process only 15 transactions per second with a storage cost of hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars per Gigabyte.
The architecture of ProvenDB results in a penalty on storage overhead and throughout. However, this overhead is trivial compared to that of the Blockchain. While ProvenDB might be marginally slower and more expensive than a traditional database server, it is massively faster and cheaper than the Blockchain. ProvenDB offers a perfect compromise between the two technologies:
ProvenDocs is an open source application designed to demonstrate the capabilities of ProvenDB. It allows you to prove your personal documents with an easy to use web application. The integrity, ownership and creation date of your documents are reliably stored on the Blockchain. The content of the documents can be private or shared.