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June 14, 2017
Safe, secure and speedy
By: Sarah Francis

Blockchain and Hardware security modules sound pretty techy and quite scary, but they don’t have to be. I wanted to do a short blog to describe what we have done in the Innovation Programme with Blockchain, and why it is interesting. Blockchain has been in the market for the last couple of years. It is a shared record of transactions that is maintained by a network of computers on the internet, instead of a centralised authority.

There are two main concerns that surround the technology; one is scalability and the other is security.

The technology allows people to see the transactions that have been made to, or by, them. However, if you wanted to use it on a corporate scale it becomes questionable on whether it can manage that number of transactions on a daily, or even hourly basis, in a secure manner.

The security issue comes into play because in certain blockchain implementation, such as financial services use cases, digital wallets will be required. The digital wallet technology has not always been well protected and there have been instances where it has been hacked.

This is where we looked at it and thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could make it secure to use and also scalable for corporate use? Who better to work with then Thales, and their Hardware Security Module (HSM).

HSMs are crypto-processors that securely generate, protect and store digital keys—cryptographic material that provide security and access to digitally-stored information. The keys stored in the Thales HSM architecture cannot be extracted or used except under a highly controlled protocol. The new solution is based on the market leading nShield HSM developed by Thales, and creates a simple path to large-scale commercial use of blockchain technology.

We, at Accenture Innovation Programme, made it possible for the HSM to talk to blockchain. The solution is used Fabric, a Hyperledger technology, and can be adapted for other leading blockchain technology platforms.

We initially based our technology on use within the financial services sector and thinking about corporate transactions. However, in the future, there are so many applications for this technology, but the opportunity to benefit from blockchain technology, for example in healthcare, depends on an ability to protect digital keys using conventional standards of security. I am excited to see where it can take us.

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