Intranets are by design internally facing applications and “the blockchain” is inherently public, so how can these two work together?
First lets distinguish between blockchain and “the blockchain”, blockchain is a technology that can be used in a variety of ways, including having a completely private blockchain, what we all refer to as “the blockchain” is a public implementation of that technology.
This blog is really about “the blockchain” and how that public “database” can be used by an Intranet where the content is designed for internal use only.
There are two primary ways that this can be achieved.
1) Encrypt everything before you put it on the blockchain
By doing this you are automatically protected as the data is encrypted with your keys and without them people can only see the encrypted content. While this is perfectly achievable we are talking about a lot of processing power required and incurring significant costs. It also has a risk that if you ever accidentally expose your private keys then everything is public for whoever gets their hands on the keys to see.
2) Create a relationship between internal data & the blockchain
You can easily create a relationship between what you are storing internally and what you are committing externally to the blockchain. This way you can gain all the benefits of both holding the data internally and having a permanent record that cannot be interfered with, which is perfect for compliance and audit.
To achieve this you can do something like take a hash of the entire document and put the hash in the chain signed with your keys and then if you ever need to check the validity of that document you can just check the hash from the blockchain to make sure the document has not been interfered with, this gives you additional security by knowing that the documents are secure against internal or external tampering as you can always check the validity.
To give you a sense of how this works below are two hashes for this document “digital workplace and blockchain“
hash 1: 697c9834d0f2989f459e9920a8caf85a
hash 2: 84dc5d537fd0e947d05395839dc4ff7d
As you can see both are completely different however the only difference in content is I added a single space at the every end of the 2nd one which generated a completely different hash as a result.
(you can try this out by paste some text into https://www.md5hashgenerator.com/ and seeing what you get back)
To summarise we can not only make use of the blockchain but enhance our compliance, security and auditability as a result of integrating your intranet and Digital workplace with the blockchain. Organisations need to be looking at this seriously to evaluate where it would make sense in your organisation.