It’s safe to say that the data management space needs improvement. This year alone, data breaches have resulted in the theft of over 100 million records containing individuals’ personal identification information. Data mismanagement leaves users at risk of identity theft and the negative consequences that stem from it, like financial fraud. That being said, the current data management systems need to change.
In the next evolution of the world-wide-web – web 3.0 – users are expected to have more protections and ownership rights around their data than they do present day. But before the internet evolves to that state, solutions that fortify data-management need to be created. Solutions that can assure users that their data is safe, protected, and not being sold without their consent. Solutions like Shyft network, a distributed-database that supports the sharing of encrypted and verified data to solve the existing problems that riddle the data management space.
Shyft’s mission is to optimize businesses and governments when it comes to securely sharing data and to optimize consumer privacy-rights. To learn more about Shyft’s mission, we sat down with Joseph Weinberg, the co-founder of Shyft network and a special advisor to the OECD, to find out more about Shyft’s solution to the problems that plague the data-management space.
What Made Your Team Decide to Use a Distributed Database (Blockchain) to Solve the Problem of Data Management and Ownership?
I lived in the Peruvian Amazon for about two years with a tribe that was living off under $5 a day. Seeing an unbanked population first hand and knowing about Bitcoin, a space I have been a part of since 2010, made me realize the possibilities of blockchain technology. It made me realize that, if we can make these types of systems work in a way that improves the lives of a broader global population, it could have limitless potential, especially when it comes to solving problems in the data management and data privacy space.
Currently, data is kept in a data-silo, a single location that houses a vast amount of information from multiple parties. But the problem with keeping data in just one location is that if the database is breached, an attacker can steal everyone’s information. But when you use a distributed-database, aka, a blockchain, that attack vector is significantly reduced to a point where it is almost non-existent.
What Did Your Realizations Inspire You to Build?
My experiences made me realize that blockchain technology could be used to give businesses, governments, citizens, and consumers data sovereignty. Shyft acts as a fundamental building block that allows things like identity, KYC, new forms of credit, and data accessibility to be achieved more securely.
The goal of Shyft is to be a universal, data aggregation layer for the entire global community and economy. Its intent and purpose are to provide a new layer of trust and validation so we can start building services that rely on the internet; instead of services that depend on centralized middlemen and counter-parties to provide trust against any data service.
What Sets Shyft Apart From Other Solutions in the Data Management and Privacy Space?
The main advantage of Shyft is interoperability and distributed cryptographic security. Shyft can function as a data aggregation system that can interact across all of the different blockchain networks and enable identity and data-sharing use cases. Our Byfrost bridging technology was designed to allow asset transfers and portability to occur. In addition, it allows the transfer of contract logic across any EVM compatible system today.
What this means is that contracts that exist in one location can use Shyft to provide validation against data that exists in different places. In other words, Shyft can act as a check-point system across all of the other networks. At one level, Shyft acts as a data-rail, moving information to allow everyone to play together. On the other side, it acts as a security mechanism across other chains that secures assets.
But beyond its data transfer and security capabilities, our network is GDPR compliant. Shyft is one of the first networks that is GDPR compliant across any of its use-cases. A user’s personal identification information is not stored on our network. Instead, attestations, or proofs and validations of that information are stored cryptographically on the network. In other words, data isn’t actually stored on the network; the network just points you to the correct people on the network that hold the data. Afterward, the network allows you to retrieve that data from them through another process.
What Is the User Experience Like?
There are two general approaches when it comes to using Shyft’s identity solutions.
- A user can use Shyft independently, as a sovereign identification process, or,
- an organization like an enterprise or government can implement Shyft to provide security around their customer’s data – so far, this has been the most popular use case.
In the second approach, Shyft’s identity solutions are active behind the scenes. The only time the customer needs to turn an eye to Shyft is if they need to give an enterprise consent to use their data for one of their processes. In some cases, when consumers give enterprises consent to use their data, they can receive a payment in return. In essence, putting their data behind this micro-payment wall is one way for consumers to make their data available for enterprise use.
What Are Shyft Network’s Primary Use Cases?
At the moment, we have three primary use cases, (1) data management, (2) regulatory compliance through technology, and (3) data sovereignty
(1) Ultimately, we want to provide better forms of identity for validation and verification, especially for developing nations that don’t have access to identity today. Currently, we have a pilot project running in Bermuda called Perseid Digital ID, a digital identity solution for the government of Bermuda.
(2) We are working with some of the largest crypto exchanges in the world on a solution for the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The FATF created one of the most significant compliance problems in the crypto-space today. In response to the FATF, exchanges are required to send KYC to process transactions between exchanges globally. The way this currently happens, you upload your identity information, for example, your passport, into a bitcoin exchange and this information moves with your transactions between exchanges. However, we believe that consumers have the right to know if their information is moving. We also believe that you can potentially receive monetization for the use of that data if it’s possible. We can’t talk too much about this one at the moment! However, we should have a major announcement coming in the next few weeks regarding this use-case so be on the look-out!
(3) The third example is data sovereignty. Banks sell your data all the time, and if they do, they don’t tell you that they actually do it. Facebook is a great example of this. However, if we could receive at least small portions of the profit these data giants make from our information in return for using it, then a system like this would be much more meaningful for everyone involved.
Paving the Way for Web 3.0
Conventional data-management practices are sub-optimal. Year after year, the world continues to see data breaches and information theft, even at some of the world’s most prestigious companies. But this trend is unacceptable. Internet users at both the enterprise, government, and individual level should not have to worry about their data being susceptible to hacks, breaches, or being sold for profit unbeknownst to them.
That is why Joseph Weinberg and the team at Shyft have been building the foundation that solves some of the problems surrounding data management and privacy. Web 3.0 is expected to have these features inherently – features like advanced data-management, advanced data security, and an improved data ownership model. But before Web 3.0 can be realized, the foundation for these innovations that will make our lives better needs to be built. For some, the Shyft network has already proved to be a viable foundation for these solutions. That is just one reason why the Bermuda government is using the Shyft network to upgrade its infrastructure and improve the lives of its citizens.
It’s safe to say that the current data-management practices and data-ownership models of web 2.0 will become obsolete in the future. These contemporary models have proved they are vulnerable to attack time and time again. But a new breed of data-management practices is on the horizon; look out for the main net launch of the Shyft network in Q4 2019.