Woolworths Leaks Customer Data, Blockchain Technology A Viable Alternative?
Our everyday life is slowly taking on a more digital form, which is made possible thanks to great advances in technology. However, our imperfect knowledge about these technologies leads us to make errors, which often results in valuable information getting into the wrong hands. Australian supermarket chain Woolworths has recently learned this lesson first hand, accidentally leaking customer data.
Also read: Smart Contracts, Intelligent Investing
Woolworths Forced To Cancel $1M USD Worth of Gift Cards
Less than a week ago, a Woolworths employee accidentally disclosed shopping voucher codes and customer information in an e-mail. The monetary value of the nearly 8,000 leaked shopping vouchers amounted to roughly $ 1 million USD. Luckily for Woolworths, all of the vouchers have been canceled, and new codes have been issued to the rightful owners. It is impossible to put a price tag on the sensitive customer information that was leaked because of this mistake, though. According to Fairfax Media, over 1,000 customers had personal information exposed in the email.
Making Use of Multi-sig and Smart Contract Technology
The recent Woolworths debacles raises the question of whether or not the technology we are currently using is sufficient to make sure mistakes like these won’t occur in the future.
If there’s one thing the Bitcoin world has shown us, it is there are so many potential use cases for the blockchain technology. Multi-signature implementations have proven to be a great way of storing financial funds, as more than one person’s approval is required to complete a transaction. Multi-sig can be compared to how most safe deposit boxes work, which require two or more keys to unlock.
Imagine if we could adapt multi-sig technology to purposes beyond finance. By requiring multiple people to sign off on accessing and releasing sensitive information, additional layers of protection can be offered without many drastic changes current systems. In other words, the Woolworths disaster may have been prevented with a multi-sig implementation.
There are other security options that can be explored, such as using smart contracts to protect gift cards and voucher codes. The way a smart contract works is by creating a transfer of ownership between two parties, which is only approved and executed after a successful input. For example, using your store card to verify your purchase would give you access to a gift card worth a certain amount.
Smart contracts are operated on a machine level and do not require any human input along the way. Only in the case of a dispute, an Oracle or arbiter will have to intervene. However, these Oracles or arbiters can be computers, software, or humans if needed. A lot of research regarding contracts is underway as we speak, making the technology well worth looking into at this early stage.
What are your thoughts on adapting multi-signature and smart contract technology for data protection? Let us know in the comments below!
Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Images: Woolworths, Shutterstock