Trusted hash and timestamp is the process of securely keeping track of the creation and modification time of a document. Security here means that no one – not even the owner of the document – should be able to change it once it has been recorded provided that the timestamper’s integrity is never compromised.
The administrative aspect involves setting up a publicly available, trusted timestamp management infrastructure to collect, process and renew timestamps.
Decentralized hash and timestamp in the Blockchain
With the advent of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, it has become possible to securely timestamp information in a decentralized and tamper-proof manner. Digital data can be hashed and the hash can be incorporated into a transaction stored in the blockchain, which serves as a secure proof of the exact time at which that data existed. The proof is due to a tremendous amount of computational effort performed after the hash was submitted to the blockchain. Tampering with the timestamp would also lead to breaking the entire integrity of the digital currency.
Unfortunately, the proof-of-work method using ‘mining’ requires a huge amount of computational power, making it unfeasible for large scale applications. The energy requirements to run Blockchain are estimated to be around 1GW and may be comparable to the energy usage of Ireland.
Innovative open-source timestamping service on the Internet
Luckily there are alternative methods that do no require a large amount of computational effort. For example, MetroGnomo is an innovative open-source timestamping service based on a mutual distributed ledger or blockchain. Sponsored by the States of Alderney, this globally-available experimental service facilitates commerce through the provision of impartial timing information.
Z/Yen’s ChainZy Technology allows Metrognomo to leverage proof-of-validity rather than proof-of-work. Thus Metrognomo is able to take the benefits of mutual distributed ledgers while avoiding the transaction costs, in time and computing resource, associated with convential blockchain proof-of-work validation mechanisms such as ‘mining’. Proof-of-validity is possible via a network of independently operated receivers, assuring users that the MetroGnomo mechanism has not been corrupted. MetroGnomo has so far been used for dating financial contracts, proving authorship of books and patents and authenticating information exchange between organizations.