Amazon has taken a somewhat surprising step into the cryptocurrency world by being awarded a patent for a cryptographic Proof-of-Work (PoW) system, which hopes to counter denial-of-service (DoS) and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. The patent, first applied for in 2016, includes the use of Merkle trees within the platform as their method of dissuading potential attackers.
Climbing the Merkle Tree
Merkle Trees are a complicated subject, but their purpose is to allow a large body of information to be verified for extremely quickly and efficiently. Merkle Trees date back to 1979 when Ralph Merkle, while studying at Stanford University, wrote a paper entitled “A Certified Digital Signature.” In it, Merkle described a new, extremely efficient method of creating ‘proofs’ – a process for verifying data that allows computers to do their work faster than ever before.
Merkle Trees are referenced in the Bitcoin whitepaper, although the technology has not yet been implemented to its fullest extent, something that Amazon clearly have designs on accomplishing in order to put off hackers wishing to attack PoW blockchains.
It’s Cryptocurrency Jeff, but Not as They Want It
Amazon’s move into blockchain will be welcomed, but it is not the entry to the ecosystem that many wanted. Rumors of Amazon accepting cryptocurrency crop up from time to time, most of them substantiated or involving complicated workarounds, but the awarding of this patent, and the fact that it was filed in 2016, shows that they have clearly been taking the ecosytem, and the technology behind it, very seriously.
As befits a company worth almost a trillion dollars, Amazon is only interested in technologies that increase their bottom line, and accepting Bitcoin payments is obviously something that they don’t feel, at least for the moment, is worth as much as acquiring blockchain-related patents.