Over the past few years, blockchain technology has become widely popular across an array of different industries. Blockchains are known for their ability to record and store data securely, but can such information ever be removed? Is blockchain data truly permanent, and if so, why is this the case?
How Blockchains Store Data
If you’re not well-versed in blockchain technology, it can be difficult to understand the dynamics of blockchain data storage. So, let’s first run over a quick recap of how this works.
Blockchains store data using something called Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). Distributed Ledger Technology is an umbrella term for an array of different systems, including blockchains. Using DLT, blockchains can record and store data without needing a third party. There is also no central authoritative party that controls distributed ledgers, making them far less susceptible to corruption.
The data stored on a blockchain is shared with multiple users, known as nodes, who can access and view said data at any time. This keeps blockchain networks transparent. These nodes must also verify the data recorded on a blockchain. Usually, every node must verify the data, but certain consensus protocols only require a few nodes for verification. But in any case, blockchain technology requires the green light from multiple, distributed users to record data rather than one central entity.
This is why blockchain technology forms the backbone of the cryptocurrency industry, as it allows transactional data to be securely stored and accessible to all users. This mode of data storage is also becoming popular in the healthcare, insurance, and traditional finance industries.
So, if a piece of data has been recorded and stored on a blockchain, can it be removed?
Can You Remove Data from a Blockchain?
The shortest answer to this question is no, you cannot remove data from a blockchain. But let’s delve into why this is the case.
Above all else, blockchains are known for being immutable. This means that any data that has been verified and added to a block cannot be altered or deleted. Think of every block as a stone carving, wherein you can’t simply hit the delete button on the data. Once the data is there, it’s there for good.
This is because blockchain technology uses consensus mechanisms to operate, so nodes on the blockchain must come to a consensus about a new piece of data before it is added to a block. So, if you try to delete or alter information within a block, you are not aligned with the network consensus on that piece of data, meaning the alteration or deletion will not take place.
It’s also worth noting that once data is added to a block, it is shared with every node within the network. This makes all the data on the blockchain utterly transparent, so, even if a data deletion or alteration was possible, every node would be able to see that it has happened.
Hashing is also used in blockchain technology and plays a role in its immutability. Hashing is part of the cryptographic process used by blockchains to keep data safe. Each block on a blockchain contains its own unique hash, or string of numbers, which ties back to a cryptographic algorithm and acts as a permanent digital signature that can track changes.
Hashes cannot be altered once created, making it very difficult for anyone to exploit a blockchain by reverse-engineering the hashing algorithm.
Blockchain technology’s immutability is one of its most desirable attributes. With cybercrime on the rise every year, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to store data securely. So, using an entirely immutable ledger can protect an organization’s data from malicious interference.
Blockchains Offer Super Secure Data Storage
A number of elements must come together to make blockchain data immutable, but there’s no denying that this factor makes blockchain technology incredibly useful in a number of fields. The permanence of stored data on blockchain ledgers ensures the security of users and wards off malicious parties.