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This Nasdaq-Backed Blockchain Startup Just Signed a Big Deal to Improve Security

March 30, 2017, 1:45 PM UTC

U.S. blockchain startup Chain has teamed with security firm Thales Group to make it easier for large companies that use blockchain technology to safely store their security credentials, the two companies said on Thursday.

Adoption of blockchain technology, which is still in its early days, has been in part slowed down on concerns over security.

A new service from Chain uses Thales’s hardware security modules (HSM)—highly secure processors designed to safeguard passwords and “digital keys”—to make it more attractive for large companies to adopt blockchain, the companies said in a joint statement.

The move follows the launch of a similar service by Accenture in February. Blockchain, which first emerged as the system underpinning crypto-currency bitcoin, is a shared record of transactions that is maintained by a network of computers on the internet, instead of a centralized authority.

Large companies, which include exchange group Nasdaq and credit card company Visa, have been ramping up their investments in blockchain in hopes that it can help reduce the cost and complexity of some of their most complex processes.

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Information on the blockchain can only be edited by users that possess one-time cryptographic keys, which are normally stored in digital wallets. These have been hacked before, making them not sufficiently secure for use by large finance firms, which normally use HSMs.

Integration of Thales’ HSMs makes it easier for firms using Chain’s technology to meet their usual security standards when storing and generating keys, the companies said.

“As Chain takes blockchain networks to production, we’ve invested heavily in the secure generation and storage of private key material,” said Ryan Smith, chief technology officer at Chain.

San Francisco-based Chain is one of the most established companies in the nascent blockchain industry. In 2015 it secured a $30 million investment from a large group of financial services companies including Nasdaq, Visa, and Citigroup.