MAJOR COMPONENTS OF A BLOCKCHAIN NETWORK
- 1. Peer-to-peer network
- 2. Distributed ledger
- 3. Cryptography
- 4. Consensus algorithm
- 5. Smart contract
A peer-to-peer (P2P) network is a self-organizing arrangement of equivalent and self-governing elements that works for the use of shared, distributed resources in a network, which avoids central authority (Ralf Steinmetz, n.d.). In a client-server network one system will be the server and other systems will work as the client systems. In a client server network, clients are always controlled by the server system on the network. In a peer-to-peer network all the systems are connected to each other with same capabilities hence termed as “peer”. In this type of network file can be shared with each peer directly and there is no need of a central server that means there is no single system, which will be a client or a server system.
In peer-to-peer network (Figure 8.4) all the systems connected can act as a server and as a client as well. Once a peer is connected to the network, P2P software allows a peer to search for the relevant files on other system. Now the question arises how many systems can be there in a peer-to-peer network, the answer is as such there is no limit on the number of systems to be connected in a peer-to- peer network but more than a limit may cause headache in terms of performance, security, and access. However, according to Microsoft, the limit of the systems connected in a peer-to-peer network can limit to 5, 10, or 20 if working on windows platform, which means a maximum of 20 systems can be connected to a peer-to-peer network.
Blockchain technology works on the same platform of a decentralized network that is a network where there is no central controller, where each user is connected to a decentralized network in order to maintain the confidentiality, authenticity, and integrity of the network (Martinovic, 2017).
Confidentiality is nothing but keeping the records or information accessible to only those individuals who are authorized to access it. Authentication methods can be used to in order to establish the authorization. Hence there are various methods and approaches which can be used to provide confidentiality, which can be either physical protection or some mathematical algorithms that changes the data to a normal user. Thus, the encryption is the most common way of achieving confidentiality where the data or information is converted to a corresponding cipher text which protects the data from unauthorized persons and only authorized person will be allowed to decrypt the data.
The integrity of data ensures that an unapproved person has not changed the data. The manipulation of the data or information can be achieved by simple insertion, deletion, or substitution methods. Now the purpose of integrity is to detect if there is any change in the information and that manipulated data cannot be accepted. There are various cryptography methods by which we can achieve the property of integrity; the most common method is hash function. These functions provide a strong method which provides a compressed representation of the data called as hashvalue and it became practically impossible for a hacker to find the actual value of the input and hence not possible to change or manipulate the information.
Authentication is the process that can be applied to both the user of the network and the origin of the data. The authentication process can be used to identify user when entering into the communication network. There are various methods and protocols useful in claim of identity of the user; digital signature, biometrics, username password are few of them. Similar to this are methods and protocols that can be used to verify the origin of the data, the content of the data, time of the data collected, etc. In blockchain technology the process of authentication is very important as any transaction to be made by the user of blockchain has to go through the process of authentication also it unable the participants of the network to read and write into blockchain, but reading and writing does not mean they can change the rules of the network, especially in case of the private blockchain as only the owner of the block- chain can change the rules.