Business Operations

How Blockchain can Transform Document Management Systems

Documents form an essential pathway of communication in and around an organization. Internet led technologies have been altering our workplaces from emails to file management software to office apps and much more.

document management system (DMS) automates and simplifies document handling. It gives you an effortless way to handle your day to day documents with least of physical involvement.

However, DMS softwares have a centralized data repository, which makes them vulnerable to external data mining attacks. For example, if you look at the Ransomware attack, more than 70% of it targeted the health sector.

The rationale behind targeting the health sector seems to be that, a robust health sector utilizes a centralized repository of data. You can imagine that treating a disease is a long drawn process. It often involves a continuous study of symptoms, theory building, tests, therapies etc.

Naturally, the best way to keep such data is in a centralized location. It will make data handling of various patients easy. However, this solution has a severe disadvantage. You may be playing right into the hands of data smugglers.

But do we have an alternative solution?

A straight answer is complicated. We have the technology, i.e. blockchain.  Just a few days ago, Kodak launched its wholly owned blockchain based document management system. Blockchains are a sturdy solution to the errs that are human.

Let us first briefly understand what blockchain is actually. Then we can contemplate on its implication for DMS.

A blockchain in simple terms is a distributed public ledger with three key elements. One is data, the second is hash, and the third is the hash of the previous block. The data you enter into a blockchain forms one part of the block.

The first block is called a ‘genesis’ block and doesn’t point to another block. The second block will have data and also the information about the first block, which we call as a hash.

But it has a unique character. The hash is an encrypted form of the data we enter in a block. It will have a fixed length, which makes it secure. So any change in data cannot be made without an alteration in the hash name.

The third element that a second block will have is the address or a pointer to the first block. The whole process follows for subsequent blocks. Hence, in a blockchain, a continuous link is created between the preceding and succeeding block.

Trying to find the hash of a block requires considerable computing power and intelligence. It is just like a mathematical problem, but infinitely complex.

Now let us see how blockchain can change the way we secure document management systems and makes it virtually foolproof.

Deep-Rooted Security 

A document management system based on blockchain utilizes the blockchain logic. A blockchain based document management system can have three layers of security. For example, as proposed in an IEEE research paper, it could have three layers: data owners, a data consumer, blockchain nodes. 

The data owner creates the documents and other content. There is a specific set of keywords for each document and it gives them control over its access. A data consumer is the one who requests access to a particular document.

A consumer can be called as a subscriber of dataset held by the data owner. The consumer is provided with credentials and interacts with a blockchain node to access documents.

A blockchain node will be a federation of cloud service providers. The blockchain nodes will hold the blockchain separately, and another cloud will keep the documents.

It’s like a locked room which is unbreakable and its key is hidden in a dark pool of water. Only the set of keywords can get you the key to unlock. A hacker will lose himself in the pool.

So the security goes very deep in blockchain based DMS.

Distributed Data Storage

One of the primary targets of data pirates are the centralized honeycombs of data. Blockchain’s very principle is for decentralization. It doesn’t let data to accumulate.

That is why it is touted as the fitting solution to data privacy. In a blockchain based DMS, the data is stored in a  decentralized cloud platform. In fact, it will be a federation of clouds. Each cloud holds only a part of data, and the content is scattered further, making it unreachable.

It is not necessary to have your own cloud systems.  The cloud facility of distinct organizations is preferable. The third-party ownership doesn’t become a problem because the blockchain logic disperses the data.

Also, the keyword acts as another layer of protection. The interlinking with hashes makes it easy for you to pick up any data you need at any time. Hence it is distributed yet linked.

Anonymous Access Facility

In an organization, there are matters where secrecy is needed. For example, in a fair tendering process, employee performance management exercises. It is exceptionally relevant in research and development, intellectual properties etc. 

Blockchain nodes, as proposed by Giang and keong, allows data access through certificates generated by the data owner. The blockchain node only knows that you have the certification from the owner, not your specific identity. It even allows access multiple times.

The DHT (Distributed Hash Table), is also a unique feature of blockchain based DMS that stores references to the decentralized data and not the data themselves. It can coordinate and manage metadata for peer to peer document sharing as well.

Finally, blockchain technology can add a new layer of security to DMS. It does so without compromising the flexibility of the document management systems. In an era where data piracy is emerging as a significant threat, blockchain based DMS offers an infallible solution.

Author Bio:

Premjith leads the Digital Marketing team at Aufait Technologies, a top-notch SharePoint Solution Provider in India. With his 4 valuable years of experience in online marketing, he helps clients expand their online presence and mushroom novel business ideas.

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