Blockchain

Blockchain

                                                                                                                           Blockchain

Abstract

Blockchain is a decentralized transaction and data management technology developed first for Bitcoin cryptocurrency. The interest in Blockchain technology has been increasing since the idea was coined in 2008. The reason for the interest in Blockchain is its central attributes that provide security, anonymity and data integrity without any third party organization in control of the transactions, and therefore it creates interesting research areas, especially from the perspective of technical challenges and limitations. In this research, we have conducted a systematic mapping study with the goal of collecting all relevant research on Blockchain technology. Our objective is to understand the current research topics, challenges and future directions regarding Blockchain technology from the technical perspective. We have extracted 41 primary papers from scientific databases. The results show that focus in over 80% of the papers is on Bitcoin system and less than 20% deals with other Blockchain applications including e.g. smart contracts and licensing. The majority of research is focusing on revealing and improving limitations of Blockchain from privacy and security perspectives, but many of the proposed solutions lack concrete evaluation on their effectiveness. Many other Blockchain scalability related challenges including throughput and latency have been left unstudied. On the basis of this study, recommendations on future research directions are provided for researchers.

 

Background 

Blockchain,mostly known as the technology running the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, is a public ledger system maintaining the integrity of transaction data . Blockchain technologywas first used when the Bitcoin cryptocurrencywas introduced. To this day, Bitcoin is still themost commonly used application using Blockchain technology . Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency payment system that consists of a public transaction ledger called Blockchain. The essential feature of Bitcoin is the maintainability of the value of the currencywithout any organization or governmental administration in control. The number of transfers and users in the Bitcoin network is constantly increasing. In addition, the conversions with traditional currencies, e.g. KRW, EUR and USD, occur constantly in currency exchange markets. Bitcoin has therefore gained the attention of various communities and is currently the most successful digital currency using Blockchain technology.

 

Blockchain is a decentralized transaction and data management technology developed first for Bitcoin cryptocurrency. The interest in Blockchain technology has been increasing since the idea was coined in 2008. The reason for the interest in Blockchain is its central attributes that provide security, anonymity and data integrity without any third party organization in control of the transactions, and therefore it creates interesting research areas, especially from the perspective of technical challenges and limitations. In this research, we have conducted a systematic mapping study with the goal of collecting all relevant research on Blockchain technology. Our objective is to understand the current research topics, challenges and future directions regarding Blockchain technology from the technical perspective. We have extracted 41 primary papers from scientific databases. The results show that focus in over 80% of the papers is on Bitcoin system and less than 20% deals with other Blockchain applications including e.g. smart contracts and licensing. The majority of research is focusing on revealing and improving limitations of Blockchain from privacy and security perspectives, but many of the proposed solutions lack concrete evaluation on their effectiveness. Many other Blockchain scalability related challenges including throughput and latency have been left unstudied. On the basis of this study, recommendations on future research directions are provided for researchers.Blockchain technology in the future.

 

Usability

The original definition of the challenges and limitations in the usability of Blockchain by Swan describes Bitcoin API as hard and difficult to use. This definition can be viewedmainly from the developer’s perspective,where Bitcoin API is hard to implement and use in and with other services and applications.We did not find any papers related to the usability issue from the software developer’s perspective.However, we found several papers that considered the usability of Bitcoin from the cryptocurrencyuser’s perspective. Therefore, we decided to expand the original definition of Blockchain usability to take usability into account also from the point of view of the cryptocurrencyuser. An important factor in Blockchain usability from the user’s perspective is the ability to analyze Blockchain. In Blockchain, new blocks are created constantly and confirmed by miners, which creates an interesting environment of transaction flows. It is therefore essential to have supporting tools to help users analyze the whole Blockchain network to improve the usability. We found applications that had been developed for this purpose. BitConeView is a system for the visual analysis of Bitcoin flows in Blockchain. BitIodine parses Blockchain, clusters addresses that are likely to belong to the same user or group of users, classifies such users and labels them, and finally visualizes the complex information extracted from the Bitcoin network. Both these systems were tested successfully with experiments and cases, and showed effectiveness in analyzing and detecting patterns in the Bitcoin.

 

Privacy

In a Blockchain network, a distributed consensus network without a trusted party, all the transactions are transparent and announced to the public. Therefore, privacy in Blockchain is maintained by breaking the flow of information. The public can see all transactions, but without information linking the transaction to identities . For this securitymodel, 10 studies out of 41 (24%) proposed privacy issues and countermeasures to increase anonymity in Blockchain. Meiklejohn and Orlandi present a definitional framework of anonymity focusing on the ownership of the coin. There are also studies that show experimental evidence on the lack of anonymity in the Bitcoin network. Koshy et al. analyzed a traffic pattern in Bitcoin and conclude that some subset of Bitcoin addresses can bemapped to an IP address simply by observing the transaction relay traffic. Feld et al. introduce a framework to traverse the Bitcoin network and generate statistics based on that. By using the tool, the authors figured out that an average peer-list contains addresses that mostly reside in the own autonomous systems of the peers. Taking this information into account, the authors claim that transaction linking could be possible.

 

Similar to ourmapping study, Herrera-Joancomartí provide an exhaustive review of papers on Bitcoin anonymity research. according to the author, very few papers have been published regarding the traffic of Bitcoin that may reveal private information. In order to solve the anonymity reduction, a mix of services has been proposed in some papers. A number of studies have applied a transactionmixing technique to increase privacy. A mixing transaction allows the users to move Bitcoins from one user address to another without a clear trace linking between the addresses. Such transactions can act as a primitive to help improve anonymity when transaction linking becomesmore challenging.

 

Conclusion

Blockchain technology runs the Bitcoin cryptocurrency. It is a decentralized environment for transactions, where all the transactions are recorded to a public ledger, visible to everyone. The goal of Blockchain is to provide anonymity, security, privacy, and transparency to all its users.However, these attributes set up a lot of technical challenges and limitations that need to be addressed.

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