Assessing blockchain consensus security in the healthcare sector
Blockchain is described as a trustworthy distributed service for parties that do not fully trust each other. It enables business transactions to be handled without a third party or central governance. For this distributed and concurrent communication to work, a consensus mechanism needs to be implemented into the blockchain protocol. This mechanism will dictate how and when new blocks can be added and in some cases, by whom. The medical industry suffers from many informational inefficiencies. Data is scattered across many different databases and the lack of coordination often results in mishandling of the data. This is especially clear when a natural disaster hits and time is of the essence. The purpose of this thesis is to assess how much a blockchain solution and its consensus mechanism can resist unusual behaviour before they behave erratically. This involves analysing design parameters and translating parameters from a disaster into a simulation to run tests. Overall, this thesis will explore if blockchain is a compatible solution to the difficulties in natural disaster response. This was be done by conducting a qualitative study and developing a prototype and simulating disaster parameters in the prototype blockchain network. A set of test cases was created. The results show that the resilience differs significantly depending on consensus mechanism. Key parameters include consensus finality, scalability, byzantine tolerance, performance and blockchain type. Blockchain suits very well to solving the problems in natural disaster response: faster medical care, more accurate data, easier to include external organisations to the network.