Blockchain to provide Data Provenance Integrity and Privacy

Starting Date: June 2018
Duration: 8-10weeks
Time commitment: 20h/week
Prerequisites: Second Year

Blockchain, also part of the cryptocurrencies, can be viewed as a potentially shared/semi-shared/private, the immutable ledger for recording sequence of events or history of transactions. The blockchain technology can be deployed to provide a high-degree of trust, accountability, and transparency associated with a set of transactions/events – especially log files and data provenance.

Data provenance is the field of recording the history of data, from its inceptions to various stages of the data lifecycle. Data provenance provides a detailed picture of how a data item was collected, where it was stored and how it was used. Such an information can be useful to data auditing and to understand whether the organisation is following its own stated data privacy policy.

Integrity of log files and data provenance record is of paramount importance to build a trustworthiness of such mechanisms – a foundation of that is the indelible proof of correctness of log files and provenance records. To provide an indelible proof that the collected provenance record is not altered or corrupted after collection. This project will look into blockchain technologies and implement an efficient integrity mechanism along with an integrity validation/attestation mechanism – independently verifiable by a third party. Enabling third parties to ascertain the trust in the data provenance, that can lead to accountability and transparency of data management activities.

The student should have an interest in and willingness to learn basic cryptography, ideally would have prior knowledge of basic integrity mechanism (e.g., Hash, Blockchains). Knowledge about blockchains (e.g., Etherium) would be a plus. Ideally, have a firm grasp of C or C++, Java, or C# programming language, and like experimenting with Operating Systems if required. Good time-management, communication, self-starter, self-organisation and strong writing skills.  We would use git and latex to write up the results; prior experience of these would be helpful but not required.

It is intended that once the implementation is working and benchmarked, we would anticipate a paper being submitted for publication based on the implementation and subsequent benchmarking; the author of the code would be a co-author of this paper.

As part of the project, you will work with an experienced and dedicated team of researchers who encourage innovative thinking and students taking ownership. You will be given necessary support throughout the project period with regular meetings, blackboard sessions, and guidance on how to carry out research effectively. This project is part of a much larger EPSRC funded project, so you would have an opportunity to work and contribute to a research project with real-world significance and impact. In previous year’s projects, a student was co-inventor on the generated patent application from the respective UROP project and also a co-author on the related research paper.