Open In App

Blockchain – Data Origin Authentication

Last Updated : 29 Aug, 2022
Like Article

Blockchain is a technology that is being used in more and more businesses around the world, from financial services to healthcare. It offers a level of security that provides protection for data not only for the business owner but also for clients who will be accessing their data. blockchain has been developed to provide heightened protection over other methods of keeping sensitive data secure, such as hashing and encryption.

There are many ways in which Blockchain uses digital signatures with the help of cryptographic techniques to achieve this goal along with other business processes.

There are a number of ways to validate the origin and integrity of data, such as:

  • Using hashes: Hashes are a way to store a value that has been encrypted so that it cannot be decrypted by anyone except another person who has the same hash key. This means that one can use hashes to check if the value has changed from when it was first encrypted. A cryptographic hash is a result of applying a cryptographic hash function to a message or a data file. A cryptographic hash function is a special kind of one-way encryption algorithm.
  • Using digital signatures: This involves producing a code or signature that is unique to the data that can be verified by another party. There are essentially secret codes that can be used to digitally sign documents.
  • Certificates: Certificates are essentially digitally signed pieces of data that allow people or organizations to share information with others.
  • MAC addresses: These are used for devices connected by an Ethernet cable or wireless protocol. They identify the device and its origin based on the MAC address and its location on the network.

What is Data Origin Authentication?

Data origin authentication also known as message authentication is an assurance that the source of the data or information is verified. It is based on the idea that a block of data is only processed and recorded by one node. The data is then sent to all other nodes that are connected to the blockchain, where it’s also processed and recorded. This ensures that every node in the network will have an identical record of a transaction or piece of data.
The implications of this technique are vast. For example, it can be used in identity verification systems, meaning no single company needs to store sensitive personal information, medical records could be verified as authentic through their digital signatures and specific metadata tags, even if they have been transferred into someone else’s system, votes could be verified with certainty within hours at a fraction of current costs, etc.
The concept of blockchain is not new, but with the ever-growing number of companies looking to develop non-financial applications, the opportunities are vast. In this article, we look at who is doing what in blockchain and how data origin authentication works.


  • Data origin authentication allows for each transaction within a block to be traced back to its origin.
  • This is achieved by tagging the metadata of each transaction with a user-specific ID, which can be mapped to both the origin and destination of that piece of data.
  • The same goes for any destination data tag. If there are 500 transactions from one source to another, one can say that the second addresses are the destinations.
  • The use of blockchain or any other technology provides an excellent option for authentication and verification of data as there is no single point where the identity can be stolen, hijacked, or otherwise compromised.

How does Data Origin Authentication Work in Blockchain?

The basic concept behind blockchain is that a block of data is only processed and recorded by one node. The data is then sent to all other nodes that are connected to the blockchain, where it’s also processed and recorded on each. This ensures that every node in the network will have an identical record of a transaction or piece of data.

  • To do this, all the nodes use a copy of the data, as opposed to one central server. When a transaction is made, every node is notified and has the chance to process and record it.
  • A block can also be described as being ‘carried’ by a chain of blocks. In other words, one needs to be connected to at least four different nodes before one can verify the integrity (consistency) of the block that one is trying to check.
  • Blockchain is a decentralized database system where no one organization or individual can control or manipulate information. It also has a ledger, which means that every action on the network is tracked in real time and can be viewed by any user at any time.
  • Blockchain transactions are verified and processed by ‘miners’, who use computing power to do this and are rewarded with cryptocurrency in exchange. This keeps the system decentralized and prevents one entity from taking over.

Different Ways to Authenticate Data Origin

A blockchain is a distributed database used to maintain a continuously growing list of records. It is decentralized in nature and its data can be accessed from any point on the network or the internet. No one person controls it, which means that no one person owns it. It provides transparent information with time stamping and collaboration capabilities for all parties that have access to the network. A global network of computers uses Blockchain technology for storing data about transactions in such a way that making sure that any tampering with data is very difficult to do and it can be tracked easily if someone tries to change or falsify the data saved on this system.

There are 2 different ways to authenticate data origin in the blockchain:

1. Digital Signatures: Digital signature is a secure form of authentication where trust can be anchored on the digital signature of both parties. The creation of a digital signature is done using Private/Public Key pair, which are mathematically linked together using Hash Functions. The digital signature can also be represented digitally as a one-way function, which means that it cannot be reversed to match its original.
Data origin authentication can also be undertaken using data signing techniques, such as Digital watermarking, content addressable storage, and post-commitment technologies to provide data origin authentication for an organization’s transaction.

Advantages of Digital Signatures:

  • Digital watermarking is not a new technique. The concept was first proposed in the year 2000 and it has been around for over a decade. 
  • The most commonly used digital watermarking software today is the Microsoft Corporation’s application called Advanced Concealment Technology or ACT. 
  • It uses fingerprints to secure images and video, which were previously vulnerable using copyright protection technologies such as watermarks or digital signatures. 
  • The watermarks are hidden in video frames that are often masked off by compression algorithms, though not in all cases.

Disadvantages of Digital Signatures:

  • Digital signatures can be hacked, whether by manipulating the signature file format or by hacking into the persons involved in transactions through malware.
  • They are not robust to attack and they are not effective in protecting the data from being forged. They do not hide the person’s identity.
  • Another factor is that it can be problematic to prove ownership of a particular digital signature because it only proves that an individual has access to certain key pairs associated with a particular public key infrastructure (PKI).
  • In 2009 researchers at MIT reported that they were able to use this vulnerability in an attempt to produce a forged digital signature for a created document. However, this was not a widespread problem for signatures.

2. Digital watermarking: Digital watermarking is a form of data origin authentication that gives data source authentication without any need to access the source data. In digital watermarking, a data sequence is embedded into a digital image or video at both file level as well as pixel level. As each frame is captured, the embedded data changes its appearance with it. The digital watermark can be used to identify two images that were captured from the same piece of media. Almost all commercial video cameras capture vivid pictures and videos which makes it easy for hackers to copy the original content. However, with this technology, it becomes difficult for them to copy and manipulate the content because they must guess what part of the image or video will change with time 

Advantages of Digital watermarking:

  • Digital watermarking provides a way of embedding tiny text or binary data into the existing picture without altering it. 
  • The digital watermark can be used to identify two images that were captured from the same piece of media. 
  • The security aspect of digital watermarks is that they cannot be removed and they can be used to specifically identify the original video recording. 
  • Moreover, in case the original image is stolen, then only this small element will remain unchanged whereas other portions of the image can be modified by malicious parties to make it look like someone else was actually doing the recording.

Disadvantages of Digital Watermarking:

  • Digital watermarking provides no protection against image theft and image reproduction.
  • Another disadvantage of digital watermarking is that it is not robust to attacks, as it is not effective in protecting the data from being forged.
  • In 2014, researchers demonstrated how to remove a digital watermark from a photograph and make it look as though the mark had never been there, by applying slight changes to the brightness of different pixels in the image.
  • A private key is a secret piece of data, that only the holder knows about it and would assist in the decryption of any encrypted content associated with this public key. 
  • The public key on the other hand is used for encryption purposes whereas private keys are used for decryption purposes.

Like Article
Suggest improvement
Share your thoughts in the comments

Similar Reads