The buzzing explosion of new technologies lately is coated with fear because of the growing number of cybersecurity meltdowns spreading all over and paralyzing users and markets.

The lifeline has been identified in what seems to be the culmination of decades of research and breakthroughs in cryptography and security: blockchain.

Here are our top predictions for 2018.

Introduction

The European Commission has recently started to reinforce European engagement with multiple stakeholders involved in blockchain activities through the launch of the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum with the scope of highlighting key developments of blockchain technology.

Although many doubts revolve around the potential of the blockchain in the market, it is not hard to stretch our imagination and realize that it will revolutionize many economic sectors. The major players from traditional sectors, like banks, insurances, stock exchanges, logistics or media companies are already engaged in pilot projects. Blockchain based solutions are seen as a major breakthrough as they bring about high levels of traceability and security in economic transactions online.

Below are four large sectors where the distributed ledger technology will unleash its full disruptive potential in 2018.

1. Cybersecurity: blockchain as a limitation of liability

One of the main features of blockchain tech is the transparency of its public ledger, that has an inherent connection to cybersecurity: the data communication piece is verified via advanced cryptographic systems. This ensures the data arrives through the proper channels, without interception by a third party in the transmission process. This idea brings about the strong possibility that blockchain can provide severe reductions in cybersecurity risks. As an example REMME’s blockchain enables businesses to authenticate users and devices without the need for a password. The removal of human interaction in the data communication process will severely lessen the threat of data corruption, human error, and hacking. Additional cybersecurity applications of the blockchain include large-scale authentication of data. These applications give an idea of how blockchain could potentially impact in restricting liability thus limiting the risk in quick but long-lasting multiple financial transactions.

2. Internet of Things: smart contracts will boost the business

As more and more sectors increase their reliance on smart technologies for operational practices, IoT devices will increasingly converge with fog computing, machine learning, artificial intelligence and, of course, blockchain as covered in this previous blog post. The encrypted and decentralised nature of blockchain makes it a viable option when it comes to keeping the ever-growing number of connected devices in our homes and offices secure. Earlier this month, for example, IBM spotlighted blockchain’s potential to securely unlock the business and operational value of IoT: IBM and Maersk blockchain could securely track and register the history of individual items and packages, creating audit trails , reducing costs, accelerating transactions and building trust. Furthermore IoT applications are enabling new types of “smart contracts” which could potentially work across a blockchain to facilitate business activity and commerce by automating the messy and expensive post-trade settlement paperwork.

3. Legaltech: blockchain will speed up the compliance with legal obligations

Blockchain promises to cause some fundamental changes in the legal industry, with applications ranging from smart contracts to chains of custody and property governance. Protecting intellectual property will be easier relying on new technologies that track and check the authenticity of the work of arts, even online: for example Truepic‘s server performs a wealth of data analysis on the images it receives, then encodes them to the blockchain to provide an extra layer of security against manipulation; so when a user takes a picture, it is watermarked with the Truepic logo and given a unique serial number and specific verification URL which can only be accessed with that unique number. Blockchain technology will also have a significant impact on notary publics (or general notaries), which are used to confirm and verify signatures on legal documents, such as deeds and contracts. Using blockchain technology, these documents will be preserved digitally as part of a digital ledger, like the recently presented Notarchain, that makes each single notary public a node of a decentralised certified digital register that prevents data alteration, enables prior checks on the identity of the subjects concerned and ensures completeness and correctness of the data inserted in the chain.

4. Healthcare: blockchain as a secure solution for health data sharing

Currently, a lot of problems prevail in the field of healthcare because of a lack of uniformity and the absence of a reliable and transparent method for storing and retrieve sensitive information.

Blockchain can be efficiently used to tackle these glitches. Allowing data sharing between healthcare providers, through a locked system accessible only by authentication keys, means a higher probability of accurate diagnoses, more effective treatments, and the overall increased ability of healthcare organizations to deliver cost-effective care. Private health records of a patient could be made available instantly and securely to doctors operating in hospitals separated from one another, making treatment more accessible, especially in case of emergencies. Information about the patient’s demographics, health records, and treatment history is critical to ensure that the best possible care is given to the patient.

All these essential workflows will be streamlined and secured with the use of blockchain, which grants doctors and other officials with the proper credentials to access, modify and monitor these records, thus enabling the development of the scientific knowledge while protecting the personal data of the patients and limiting the liability of the doctors .

Conclusion

2018 will see a widespread recognition of the potential offered by the encrypted distributed ledger technology across other sectors and industries and will impact digital services and transform business models in a wide range of areas in addition to those mentioned above, such as insurance, finance, energy, logistics, intellectual property rights management or government services. Blockchain offers a totally different approach to storing information, performing functions, making transactions, and establishing trust, thus proving that it is not simply the technology at the heart of bitcoin and other virtual currencies.

Anyway it should always be kept in mind that blockchain is still vulnerable to hacks and scams, whether it is a simple wallet hack, fraudulent ICO or a bug in a piece of software code, investors can lose millions and the appropriate contractual protection measures shall be always put in place.