Singapore's Acronis becomes first data protection company to invest in blockchain

Mr Serguei Beloussov, founder and chief executive officer of data protection firm Acronis, in his office at Suntec Tower.
Mr Serguei Beloussov, founder and chief executive officer of data protection firm Acronis, in his office at Suntec Tower. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Data protection firm Acronis is making its first foray into "blockchain" - the technology that backs the cryptocurrency bitcoin - with the launch of a new prototype that allows users to time-stamp important data and prevent it from being tampered with.

The investment, the size of which was not disclosed, makes Acronis one of the earliest companies to develop applications for blockchain outside of the banking and finance industry, the firm said on Monday (May 16).

A blockchain is a decentralised ledger technology that is useful for recording transactions of an object without the need for a trusted third party. The database is maintained by a network of computers across the Internet, and data and transactions can only be updated by rules of consensus between the participants in the network.

This means that when new data is entered, it cannot be erased. And when data is modified, you can prove who did it without any measure of doubt.

For this reason, blockchain is useful for storing data that must not be tampered with, said Mr Serguei Beloussov, the Russian-born Singaporean who is the founder of Acronis.

Examples of such data include property and medical records, stock transfers, chain-of-evidence for court documents, police video or security camera footage, as well as long-term archiving that could be subject to audits.

Acronis has therefore formed a new 10-man blockchain department to research how blockchain technology can be used to improve data storage products.

Where data protection is concerned, blockchain is the "best technology for today", said Mr Beloussov, as it is one of the most difficult and expensive systems to hack into.

He explained to a media briefing on Monday: "If you have an object that's worth S$1 million protected by an object that costs S$10 million to hack, that object is obviously protected quite well.

"It is not publicly known how to hack the blockchain. Perhaps the Chinese or the Russians know. But at this point, it doesn't look like in any forseeable future, it will be easy to hack a blockchain."

Mr Vitalik Buterin, creator of Ethereum, a blockchain platform, said in a statement: "By applying blockchain technology to its solutions, Acronis is the first data protection vendor that we've seen embrace this innovative technology."

marilee@sph.com.sg