Amazon Secures Patent to Build Proof-of-Work Cryptographic System

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Tech mogul Amazon has been awarded a patent for several techniques to create a proof-of-work (PoW) cryptographic system comparable to those used by blockchains like bitcoin.

Initially filed in December 2016 and granted May 14 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the patent explains the benefits like how Merkle trees can be created as a solution to a proof-of-work challenge.

A Merkle tree structure enables verification of data sent between computers, and on peer-to-peer networks like blockchains is utilized to guarantee that blocks are not falsified. The concept existed way back in 1979.

Meanwhile, PoW is an algorithm that is utilized to defend networks by requesting a service participant to do “work”—usually employing computer processing power to solve complicated mathematical puzzles. For example, the bitcoin blockchain network utilizes a PoW algorithm with the work done by miners.

Amazon states that in this case, the Merkle tree generation is the work required by the algorithm.

The patent underscores:

“A proof-of-work system where a first party (e.g., a client computer system) may request access to a computing resource. A second party (e.g., a service provider) may determine a challenge that may be provided to the first party. A valid solution to the challenge may be generated and provided for the request to be fulfilled.”

“The challenge may include a message and a seed, such that the seed may be used at least in part to cryptographically derive information that may be used to generate a solution to the challenge. A hash tree [or Merkle tree] may be generated as of generating the solution,” the patent adds.

PoW could also assist in avoiding denial-of-service (DoS) and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that often plague computer networks, Amazon states, adding that:

“Requiring a valid proof-of-work may mitigate a DOS or DDOS attack by causing the participants of the DOS or DDOS attack to generate a valid proof-of-work solution, which may require the use of computational resources on the attacking systems and dramatically reduce the rate at which entities participating in the attack may send requests.”

The patent also brings up terms like “digital signature,” “cryptographic key” and “public signing key,” among other concepts pertaining to cryptocurrencies and blockchain. The patent does not straightforwardly talk about cryptocurrencies or blockchain, however.