Summary and conclusions

AuthorBellia, M.; Kounelis, I.; Anderberg, A.; Calès, L.; Andonova, E.; Pólvora, A.; Petracco Giudici, M.; Nascimento, S.; Inamorato dos Santos, A.; Rossetti, F.; Papanagiotou, E.; Nai Fovino, I.; Spirito, L.; Sobolewski, M.
Summary and conclusions
101 101
Key insights
This report underlines a series of opportunities
and challenges across sec tors brought by
blockchain technology, which may introduce
signif‌icant changes in our ind ustry, economy
and society. We of‌fer a summary of key insights
collected from our analysis of blockchain
technology and its applications across sectors.
How blockchain works
Blockchain is a tamper-resistant and time -
stamped databa se (ledger) operating through
a distributed network of multiple nodes
or users. It is, however, a particular type of
database. Transactions bet ween users do not
require intermediaries or trusted third parties.
Instead, trust is based on the rules that everyone
follows to verify, validate and add transactions
to the blockchain – a ‘consensus mechanism’.
Blockchain is based on a par ticular combination
of key features: decentralisation, tam per-resistant,
transparency, security and smart contrac ts.
The lack of a central entit y controlling the syst em
creates strong resilience against single point-
of-failure f‌laws. Since it is extremely dif‌f‌icult
to change or delete the recor d of transactions,
in this sense the records on a blockchain are
tamper-r esistant . In public or open blockchains
all transactions are transparent and visible.
All transactions are time-stamped – that is,
data such as details a bout a payment, a contr act,
transfer of ownership, etc. are linked p ublicly to
a certain date and time. A nd smart contrac ts
enable the terms of agreement between parties
to be executed and enforced w ithout the need
for human coordination or inter vention.
However, a number of challenges remain
unresolved, such as the limited scalability
and performance of public blockchains, mainly
related to the low volume of trans actions, or
the high energy consumption when deploying
current PoW consensus mechanisms. Ot her
threats can arise from potential collusion from
a majority of participant s which could overrun
the network (51 % attacks), or from the high
dependency of run ning the network on a limited
number of participant s. A major source of security
vulnerability also lies in t he added responsibility
for key management, which ca n be as simple
and serious as losing a phone or a back-up of
the credentials.
Another key issue that needs further research
is how to safeguard personal , sensitive
or conf‌idential data. Transparent data on
a blockchain might be a problem when specif‌ic
data sets are not meant to be p ublicly available,
or need to be changed due to errors, inaccuracies
or other problems in the original data ent ry.
Potential conf‌lict s between specif‌ic blockchain
architectures a nd the EU’s GDPR warrant
a wider debate.
Scanning blockchain ecosystems
To a certain degree, the hype aroun d blockchain
technology has been inf‌l uenced or shaped by
a spike in interest from f‌inancial instit utions
since 2014. However, while more well-known

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