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Amazon Earns Patent For Proof-of-Work Cryptographic System

Amazon is awarded a patent for various techniques to build a proof-of-work (PoW) cryptographic system on Tuesday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Initially filed in December 2016, the patent outlines how Merkle trees, a concept dating back to 1979, can be generated as a solution to a proof-of-work challenge, among other benefits. A Merkle tree structure enables verification of the data sent between computers, and on peer-to-peer networks such as blockchains, it could be to ensure blocks are not falsified.

As for PoW, it is an algorithm employed to protect networks by asking a service participant to do “work”, i.e using the computer’s processing power to solve complex mathematical puzzles. For instance, the bitcoin blockchain network uses a PoW algorithm for the work done by miners.

In this particular case, the Merkle tree creation will be the work that the algorithm demands, as stated by Amazon. The patent explains:

“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 patent further adds:

“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.

PoW will aid in preventing frequent attacks such as denial-of-service (DoS) and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) from hitting the network,  Amazon further elaborates:

“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.”

While the patent also outlines concepts such as  “cryptographic key,” “digital signature” and “public signing key,” that are related to blockchain and cryptocurrencies, the patent does not directly discuss either of the two.

Just this month, the firms’ cloud computing arm, Amazon Web Services (AWS), launched its Managed Blockchain service for wider use among enterprise clients. Currently, the service supports open-source framework Hyperledger Fabric, support for ethereum network is in the pipeline and might be released later this year.


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