A pioneering new blockchain research facility has been built in Edinburgh, aimed at exploring ways in which the technology can protect personal data from online scammers and hackers.
The research laboratory, built at Edinburgh Napier University’s Merchiston campus, is part of a £600,000 collaboration between Napier and Blockpass IDN, the blockchain-based identity application provider for regulated services and the Internet of Things (‘IoT’).
The Blockpass Identity Lab is initially a three-year collaboration, supporting five PhD students and creating a world-leading virtualised blockchain environment.
After a series of high-profile data breach scandals at companies like Yahoo, Uber and Equifax, the risks of centralising personal user data have become a key corporate concern, with companies world-wide dedicating an increasing amount of financial resource to cybersecurity technologies.
The digital identity market is forecast to be worth $9.7 billion by 2021, and open-up a wide range of online services. The key focus now is to remove risks around fraud, identity theft and counterfeiting. In the US, there are more than 13 million victims of identity theft each year, with a new case of identity theft occurring, on average, every two seconds.
The UK is one of the top countries for identity fraud and affects around 1 in 10 people. This type of fraud can lead to high levels of stress for those involved. In Germany, the average loss related to identity fraud is around £28,666 per victim. Across Europe, around 17% of citizens have been affected by some form of identity theft, and the levels increase by the day. In 2017, credit card fraud cost over £1 billion, and included 5.2 million people cancelling their cards.
This innovative collaboration will focus on key challenges around identity and aim to build new data infrastructures which respect the rights, consent and privacy of citizens. A core factor of this will be around sovereign identity, and where data, devices, systems and people can be identified with high levels of assurance.