Terms Beginning With 'b'

Blockchain Technology

What is blockchain and blockchain technology?

Blockchain:

Blockchain is a list of records, also known as blocks, that store data publicly chronologically. The information within the blocks is encrypted and ensures the privacy and safety of the users and data.

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Blockchain Technology:

Blockchain Technology is also known as the Distributed Ledger Technology that stores transactional records of the public in multiple databases connected via peer-to-peer node.

The transactional record in blockchain technology is known as a block. The blocks are in multiple databases, called chains, and the storage is known as a digital ledger.

Put simply, every transaction that takes place is a ledger that is authorised by the digital signature of the owner, which not only authenticates the transaction but protects them from getting tampered.

An example to help understand the concept in a better way is the use of Google doc. Most of us are familiar with Google doc. When a Google doc is prepared, the document can be shared with a set of people instead of getting photocopied or transferred. The document is decentralised, allowing full real-time access. This is the simplest example to understand the concept behind the blockchain technology. However, this technology is much complex than Google Doc.

What are the components of blockchain?

Image Source: © Kalkine Group 2020

Blockchain comprises of six core components:

  1. Node: A node refers to the user or the system within the blockchain.
  2. Transaction: Transaction is a building block of the system.
  3. Block: Block refers to a data structure that is used for keeping a set transaction to be distributed to all nodes in the network.
  4. Chain: Chain refers to the sequence of the blocks in a particular order.
  5. Miners: Miners perform the block verification process before anything is added to the blockchain structure.
  6. Consensus: Consensus refers to the set of guidelines and arrangements to conduct blockchain operations.

How does blockchain work?

  1. In the first stage, a transaction is requested.
  2. After the request, a block is created, which represents the transaction.
  3. After the block is created, it is sent across all the nodes in the blockchain network.
  4. Once the block reaches a node, the transaction is authenticated.
  5. After the verification, the node receives a Proof of Work reward.
  6. The block is then appended to the existing blockchain, signalling transaction completion.

The blocks in the transaction comprise of three components. These include data, the hash of the block, and a hash from the previous block.

The data that stored in each block depends on the type of blockchain. For example, in a bitcoin blockchain infrastructure, the block has data concerning, sender, receiver and the number of coins.

A hash which acts as a fingerprint gets generated with the help of a cryptographic hash algorithm. The hash is a long record comprising some digits and letters that help detect blocks quickly in the blockchain structure. Once a block is created, it is attached to a hash which changes if there is any modification in the block. The hash helps to find any changes in the blocks.

The final element within a block is the hash from the previous block, which creates a chain of blocks and is the reason behind the security of the block architecture.

What is the reason behind blockchain’s popularity?

Record keeping of data and transactions form a crucial part of the business. In most cases, this information is either handled within the organisation or passed through a third party, like brokers. The process involves both time and cost. The problem could be overcome with the help of blockchain. Blockchain helps in reducing the long process and allow faster movement of transaction.

Blockchain technology has the potential to support several applications related to various industries like supply chain, finance, manufacturing etc.

Blockchain is an emerging technology and has many advantages in this digital world. They are:

  • Highly secure
  • It is a decentralised system. It means that the transaction happens with the mutual agreement between the parties involved resulting in smoother, safer, and faster transactions. In a conventional transaction, there is a need for permission from a regulatory body. However, for a transaction via blockchain technology, this is not the case.
  • Automation capability - This means that the blockchain technology is programmable and is capable of generating events, systematic measures, and payments automatically once the trigger conditions are fulfilled.

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Are blockchain and bitcoin the same?

Most of us get confused that blockchain and bitcoin are the same. However, it is not so. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency or a digital form of money. Blockchain technology facilitates bitcoin. The scope of blockchain is beyond that.

What are the applications of blockchain technology?

Blockchain technology has a wide range of applications. Some of them are mentioned below:

  • Secure sharing of medical data
  • Cross-border payments
  • Real-time IoT operating systems
  • Music royalties tracking
  • Anti-money laundering tracking system
  • Personal identity security
  • Voting mechanism
  • Supply chain and logistics monitoring
  • Advertising insights
  • Cryptocurrency exchange
  • Original content creation
  • Real estate processing platform

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What is the Dark Web?  The dark web is one such portion of the World Wide Web which is not accessible by regular search engines. The dark web is considered a hotbed for criminal activities, and it is much more than that. Various websites exist on an encrypted network inside the dark web. Standard web browsers and programs cannot find these websites. Once inside the dark web, different sites and pages can be accessed like one does on the web. Scientists believe that the internet we see is only 4% of the entire ocean of the web, meaning the 96% consists of the "Deep and Dark Web".  The user interface used in the dark web is usually internet-based, but it utilises special software which is not part of the standard ones. There are dozens of web browsers to surf the internet, but they all work in the same way. These standard browsers use ports and protocols to request, transfer and view data on the Internet. The website you access may look familiar, but as you enter, it may be illegal or something familiar but otherwise not monitored by anyone else. Therefore, the deep web and the dark web are famous for being anonymous. Also read: Cyber Espionage Campaign: Strings that tie China, Australia and the US How to access dark web browser? In order to access a few areas which are restricted, the user may need a password and a process to follow. A special software called TOR (The Onion Router) or the Freenet has these non-standard connections. These browsers are unlike standard internet browsers and have a process to access. They allow the users to browse around the dark web and are focused on keeping the user identity anonymous. If hacked or accessed, the regular web browser can easily provide user information such as who the user is and whereabouts. Though the dark web is providing 100% anonymity, federal agencies have been successful in tracking down criminal activities on the dark web. It is often said that the person you are talking to on the dark web could either be an FBI agent or a criminal. Image: Kalkine   What happens inside the world of the dark web?  The dark web is famous for allowing sinister activities, but many users go on the dark web to access information which otherwise may not be accessible on standard internet. Such as users from extremely oppressive governments who cut access to the world for their citizens. Unfortunately, such confidential environments also provide open platforms to criminals, terrorists and other such individuals involved in illegal activities.   Hence, experts advise users to not access the dark web even out of curiosity as it is a lawless environment. There have been many incidents where innocent, curious users were trapped and forced to get involved in criminal activities or their digital devices hacked and compromised without their knowledge.  A study conducted by a University of Surrey researcher Dr Michael McGuires in 2019, Into the Web of Profit, shows that the dark web has become worse in recent times. Since 2016 of all the listings on the dark web suggested, 60% could harm companies. Everything illegal and criminal can be found on the dark web, it also has other legitimate options such as chess clubs or book clubs, but because of the anonymity, the user will not know whom he/she is interacting with. Inside the dark web, anonymity and lawless nature make the crimes which exist otherwise in our society hard to trace.  The payment procedure inside the dark web is also different from the World Wide Web. Most often, Bitcoin and Monero cryptocurrency are used for the transactions.    RELATED READ: Knock Knock! Cybercriminal at Your Doorstep   What’s the difference between the deep web and dark web? The dark web is part of the entire deep web and is hidden from regular browsing access. Most people confuse the deep web and the dark web as one entity. It is not. The deep web content includes anything hidden and restricted behind the security wall such as content which otherwise requires paywall or sign-in or blocked by the author. Content which cannot be easily accessible on regular internet such as medical records, membership websites, paid content are available on the deep web; hence it is also called Invisible Web.  No one really knows the total size of the internet, but the experts believe that the standard World Wide Web consists of only 4% internet, the deep web consists of 90% and dark web consists of 6% of the entire internet.  ALSO READ: Technology has changed the way we work amid the COVID-19 crisis: A look at in-demand technologies Image: Kalkine     Also read: It happens again, NZX being bullied by Cyber-attackers- Down for the fourth day   What kind of risk companies face due to the dark web?  The Into the Web of Profit report listed below threats various organisations around the world are facing, especially the ones who have weak or insufficient cybersecurity measures.   Malware attacks Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks Botnets Trojan, keyloggers, exploits  Espionage  Credentials access  Phishing  Refunds Customer data Operational data Financial data Intellectual property/ trade secrets    Also read: Cybersecurity and the Requirement of a Resilient Environment in Australia  Are there advantages and disadvantages to the dark web?  The dark web provides complete anonymity, the users get complete privacy to perform any activity, be it illegal or legal. Many countries in the world still have authoritarian regimes offering no civil rights to their people. To such oppressed lot, the dark web provides an opportunity to access news, information, data and also express their views. The dark web is also a perfect place for law agencies to map criminal activities while being undercover. It is also easy to commit gruesome crimes through the dark web as it is complicated and lawless. Criminals can easily use the dark web to compromise someone's privacy, steal data or private information or even hire someone to commit murder.  Do internet users need to be concerned about the dark web?  The simple answer is no unless the user is using the dark web. Study says that most young people visit the dark web out of curiosity. They do not want to indulge in any criminal activity but want to see how the hidden and secret world of the dark web operates. And that is where the possibility of the electronic device IP address getting hacked by other criminals to perform their criminal activities lies.  The earliest use of darknet dates back to the year 2000. Freenet was created at the University of Edinburgh based on a student research paper. Ian Clark wrote the paper in 1999 on the possibility of such an encrypted internet base. Freenet was created to oppose censorship and provide a platform for free speech. The most powerful dark web is TOR, and it was created by the United States government to have a secure encrypted communication in case of emergency and complete disaster. Even today, many law agencies are secretly active inside the world of the dark web to gain access in the criminal world and stay one step ahead.

What is Data Analytics?  Data Analytics involves a set of quantitative and qualitative approaches and processes that can be used to determine useful information for business decision-making. The process involves various patterns and techniques, including: extracting a raw database, and categorising it to identify and analyse the behaviour, relation and connection of the results.  The ultimate goal is to acquire valuable information in order to make decisions for businesses’ benefit and productivity.  In today's competitive times, most companies chalk out their business plan with the help of data analytics. With organisations becoming customer-service oriented, data analytics has become a critical tool to reach the target audience in an effective manner while understanding their requirements. Once data is collected, it is analysed and stored according to organisations’ requirements.  The data analysis process has multiple layers involved, and its diverse modules are not just used in businesses but also in science and social science fields. Rather than making decisions based on just available information, one can utilise data analytics in examining the data in standard ways and churning out the results from it.  It has been observed that companies generally make decisions based on past references and future outcomes. Data analytics appears advantageous in providing useful information towards this end.  Why do Businesses Need to Use Data Analytics?  Many data analytics’ tools and softwares are readily available these days. These systems use resources, such as machine learning algorithms and automation.   Data scientists and analysts are counted amongst the leading career options as well. These professionals use data analytics techniques while researching and presenting useful information for businesses to increase productivity and gain. The process helps companies understand their target audience and determine effective ways to cater to their needs. Data analytics can further be used to design strategies in marketing campaigns and promotions and also evaluate its results.  Data analytics is primarily used in business-to-consumer (B2C) processes to boost business performance and improve the bottom line. There are data collection firms which gather consumer information and provide it to the businesses so that the companies can effectively influence the market. The collected data is not only used to understand and impact consumer behaviour but also determine market economics and its practical implementation.  The data used in the process can be either be data collected in the past or newly updated data. There are various methods to manage consumer and market information. It may come directly from the customers or potential customers or can be purchased from the data collection vendors. The data primarily includes audience demographics, behavioural patterns and expense threshold.  How Can Data Analytics be Effectively Used in Business Processes? Data analytics is an ever-evolving technique. Earlier, the data was collected manually, but with the rise of internet and technology, data is now collected online with the help of search engines and social media platforms. Subsequently, the information is analysed through available software.  Here is a list of some key steps businesses can follow to leverage the benefits of data analytics: Set up crucial metrics: This step reduces the guesswork and provide data-based insights to the businesses. Before embarking on the data analytics process, it is vital to determine the goal for your business. Analysing customer data helps in understanding conversion rate, consumer spending ability, demographics etc. The results of the analysis can support the businesses while making decisions in launching an advertising or marketing campaign. Similarly, the unwanted data can be erased from the database so that the brands can focus on their right target audience. The relevant metrics will change the course of the company and push it in the right direction. Moreover, once your key metrics are set, even when the market conditions change in the future, you can adjust the metrics according to the requirement and achieve the results. Set a clear module: It is important to examine the data correctly by avoiding common mistakes. An ambiguous path can produce confusing insights while wasting time and energy of businesses.  Therefore, it is recommended to draw a clear goal in order to achieve actionable insights. The data, when collected from different sources, need to be merged accurately in the analytics model. Businesses can modulate their data analytics systems either manually or through automation. There are various data modelling practices available in the market. The best use of these techniques can simplify the process of modelling complex data.  Data visualisation: Once the relevant data is collected, and the modules are set to analysis, visualisation of that data will assist in understanding the information correctly. When the businesses have an acute knowledge of what their target audience wants, they can then focus on strategising advertisement and content, which matches the consumers' interest.  It is the critical step in the data analytics process to distinguish insights from information.  Not everyone is comfortable dealing with numbers. Hence, ensuring that key stakeholders understand essential points and information can be displayed in a visually appealing format seem crucial to capitalise on data effectively. Right tools to implement insights:Having access to data and insights can get overwhelming. However, the information is worthless if the businesses are unable to implement it successfully. While it is important to collect the data and set critical metrics and modules to analyse it, it is also imperative to translate the data into practical actions. The eventual goal is to improve sales or grow profits. It is ultimately in the marketers' hands to transform the gained insights into a successful implementation. The consumers' insights should be incorporated while establishing a marketing plan and at all decision-making steps. 

What is Day Trading? Day trading is popular among a section of market participants. It is a type of speculation wherein trades are squared-off before the market close in the same day. An individual or a group is engaged in buying and selling of securities for a short period for profits, the trades could be active for seconds, minutes or hours.  One can engage in day trading of many securities in the market. Anyone who has sufficient capital to fund the purchase can engage in day trading. For a class of people, day trading is a full-time job.  Day traders are agnostic to the long-term implications of the security and motive is to benefit from the price changes on either side and make profit out of the asset price fluctuations within a day. They bet on price movements of the security and are not averse to take short positions to benefit from the fall in price.  Day trading is not only popular among individuals or retail traders but institutional traders as well, therefore the price movements are large sometimes depending on the magnitude of information flow and accessibility.  Everyone wants to make money faster, and many are inclined to speculate in markets, but it comes with considerable risk and potential loss of capital. People engaged in day trading also incur losses, and oftentimes outcomes are disheartening.  Day trading is a risky activity, similar to sports betting and gambling, and it could become addictive just like gambling and sports betting. Since the motive is to earn profits, the profits realised from day trading also tempt people to continue speculating.  People spend considerable time and efforts to make the most out of day trading. They have to continuously absorb and incorporate information flow, which has become increasingly accessible driven by new-age communications systems like Twitter, Facebook, forums etc. But not only information flows have been favourable, day traders are now equipped with best in class infrastructure to execute trades even on compact devices like mobile phones. The accessibility to markets is at a paramount level and gone are days of phone call trading and lack of information flows.  What are the essentials for Day Trading? Basic knowledge of markets With lack of basic knowledge of markets, day trading may yield unacceptable outcomes. It becomes imperative for people to know what’s on the stake. Prospective day traders should know about capital markets, and the securities traded in capital markets like bonds, equity and derivatives.  Buying shares and expecting a return from the price movements are on the to-do list for many. However, it is important to know about and risks and potential returns from speculating in capital markets.  After getting some basic knowledge about markets and securities, aspiring day traders should know how to analyse market prices of securities through fundamental analysis and technical analysis. Although day traders don’t practice fundamental analysis extensively, they spend considerable time to apply technical analysis, to formulate a entry and exit strategy.   Device and internet connection Trading is now possible on mobile applications as well as computer applications or websites. An aspiring day trader will likely begin with mobile phone given the accessibility, and laptops/computers are useful as scale grows larger and complex.  Internet connection is prerequisite to practising day trading, and it is favourable to have a fast internet connection to avoid glitches and potential problems. These perquisites are now available with large sections of societies.  Broker and trading platform A broker will facilitate a market for potential trades. The security brokerage industry has also seen a profound shift as technology has driven cost lower while competition is ramping up across jurisdictions. Large retail brokerages have moved towards zero commission trading in the U.S., and the same is seen being the trend across other geographies as well.  The entry of discount and online brokerages has perhaps given wings to the retail market participants as well as the retail market for security brokers. Robinhood has grown immensely popular in the United States, but there are many firms like Robinhood in other jurisdictions. Each country has some firms with business model on same lines as Robinhood.  Brokers now offer high-quality mobile applications and web services to clients, and trading security has never been so accessible. They also provide access to the global market along with a range of securities, including commodity derivatives, currency derivatives, CFDs, options, futures, bond futures etc.  Real-time market information flow   On public sources, market price information is at times not live due technical shortcomings, which will not work appropriately, especially for day traders. Brokers not only provide platform and market but several other services, including margin lending, real-time data, research.  Day traders closely track prices of securities and overall information flow to incorporate developments in bidding, and real-time data provides accurate prices throughout market hours.  Information flow largely relates to the news around the company, industry or economy. Day traders now have far better sources of information than the conventional sources, and sometimes these sources could be exclusive to a group.  What are the risks of day trading? Most of the aspiring day traders end up losing money, given the lack of experience and knowledge. They should rather only bet on capital that they are comfortable to loose, in short, they should avoid risk of ruin. Day trading is sort of pure-play speculation and application of knowledge, information flow, laced with good trading system is paramount. The only concern of day traders is movement in price, which contradicts from investments. Day traders try to time and ride the momentum in the price and exit the trade before momentum turns otherwise, which can happen frequently.  It consumes considerable time and induces stress on the individuals given the nature of security prices, which can move north and south abruptly throughout the day, hours, minutes and seconds. Day traders should have enough capital to trade in cash instead of margin.  Day trading on margin or borrowed money is extremely risky and has the potential to make a person insolvent, especially in cases of extreme risk-taking. The leverage associated with borrowed money magnifies profits as well as losses.  Aspiring day traders should equip themselves with adequate knowledge, competency and sound risk management process. Although fast money is dear to most, it is better to know what is at stake before jumping into markets with excitement.   

An early adopter (aka lighthouse customer) is typically an early customer of any particular company or technology. The term was first coined in the theory of Diffusion of Innovations from Everett M. Rogers. Early adopters help the companies to better understand the willingness of the customer to consume or use the products.

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