Applied cryptography is here to stay, whether in the form of the best surviving cryptocurrencies, or as products relying on applied cryptography. But blockchain and cryptocurrency companies can help to be more stable and secure by implementing log management tools and processes.
The sector of blockchain and cryptocurrency is at a crossroads at the end of 2018. On the one hand, a prolonged crash in trading has ravaged most assets, which now command much lower market prices. Some companies which promised a lot, are now struggling to bring products to the end user during this period.
When Bitcoin first appeared in early 2009, it created many precedents. Among them, one was to rely on a distributed and loose network of developers who took the project to heart, contributing their knowledge and work to producing a workable version of Bitcoin. As the chief idea became known, a Cambrian explosion of similar projects over a decade led to many failed, and some semi-successful experiments, in building coins, payment networks, platforms and finally, applications using blockchain record-keeping and distributed computing.
But most of the projects remain amateurish, and some still rely on open-source technology and even voluntary work. This has led to absurd situations, where individual developers infiltrate a project and gain the trust of the founders, then go on to build a wallet that steals funds outright. One of the Bitcoin hard forks, Bitcoin Gold, suffered that fate, with not one, but two faulty wallets presented to users. More recently, one of the best-used wallets, Copay, admitted to having faulty code, courtesy of another overly helpful developer.
A new crop of blockchain projects has appeared in the past 12 months, furbished with many of the trappings of a professional startup. Projects like Lisk, TRON, and EOS differ by a lot when compared to the early versions of blockchains. While Bitcoin prided itself on having a loose network of nodes based on a globally distributed infrastructure, the newer generation of projects uses other mechanisms. The cryptographic work is not done by anonymous farms, but by an array of entities that have earned the right to produce blocks, receive rewards, and influence the development of the network.
This approach of using known entities that provide resources and produce blocks is also known as distributed proof of stake. This means that the block producers also have a “stake” in the game, usually by owning a large number of coins locked up. On top of those projects is a vision and a roadmap to control the network and turn it into a commercially viable product, used by businesses, third-party app developers, or independent developers. Those blockchain projects are also moving away from cryptocurrency as the chief application, and into a general area of platform building for a new way of distributed computing.
A blockchain with a network of block producers has many potential pitfalls and errors. As previously amateurish cryptographic coin-centered projects transform into a new crop of startups, the rules of business start to apply to them. And this means that an organization that wants to offer a glitch-free blockchain should start looking into log management processes and tools to improve coding efficiency, security and stability.
Using a well-established tool like LogDNA (www.logdna.com). means blockchain projects can build a robust, error-free network, and minimize the risk of downtime from having to go back to search and fix coding issues. The tracking software is used by IBM, Instacart, Life360, Lime and Lifesize. IBM liked it so much that they recently announced that it would offer the tool to the company’s customers as part of their cloud services.
As an aside, any error, freeze, or consensus problem may lead to grave troubles and immediate losses for a coin or token. A blockchain is always on, and always live. Freezing means no transactions, which means a totally worthless system and many worried users. Consensus problems may mean a chain split, lost transactions, and irreversible losses.
Most cryptographic/decentralized projects rely on GitHub to expose the code, with multiple developers adding and improving various elements. Each organization that wants to use blockchain or build a network has a slightly different approach, from having a handful of developers spread across the globe, to having a dedicated, salaried team.
Running tests ahead of time and ensuring an error-free release is the one thing that any project should hold as its utmost responsibility. A good logging tool may mitigate the risk, and be used to streamline the process, regardless of the structure and size of the team. And while current crypto applications are relatively small, they have the responsibility of functioning without fail.
Hopefully, teams and projects that want to survive for the next wave of blockchain and distributed network adoption will soon learn the power of logging tools, start practicing Stringent Log Management, and move a step closer to the ideal of mass adoption for cryptographic assets.