Understanding Blockchains – Part 4: Exploiting blockchain-based solutions

Published: December 6th, 2017

We conclude our four-part series (see the earlier posts here, here, and here) with a survey of how blockchains are (or could be) used in different industries, but especially in the medical and healthcare sectors.

In the previous posts, we provided a step-by-step introduction to blockchains – showing how a fully distributed ledger can be maintained in a consistent state by a large group of unaffiliated peers, mutually distrustful and potentially malicious, and who may not always be responsive. Distributed ledger (or database) technology is not new, but the blockchain as used by Bitcoin offered the first practical solution to solve most of the problems that thwarted researchers in the past.  It solved the problem of scale (the number of nodes that have to maintain the ledger), the problem of trust (between pseudonymous peers), the problem of mutability (preventing retrospective changes to the ledger), the problem of centralization (where an attack on a central database can lead to massive data loss or denial of service), and several others. Bitcoin’s successor, Ethereum, as described in our previous post, added a whole new twist to the simple ledger as a repository of immutable records. Records can now contain code which can run business rules incorruptibly and effect changes in the system.

Blockchain is not just for cryptocurrency

That the success of Bitcoin and Ethereum as a showcase of blockchain technology should have captured the attention of other industries is no surprise. After all, some of the operational issues that such diverse industries as banking, transportation, education and pharmaceuticals face appear to be partly mitigated by a blockchain-based solution. For instance, many of these industries suffer from poor or inaccurate record keeping, which adds to costs, inconvenience and fraud. A blockchain-based solution appears, at least superficially, to address some of these inefficiencies. For example, education records can be maintained permanently on a blockchain (rather than in easily lost or alterable paper records); a drug shipment can be tagged on the blockchain during each stage of its manufacture through transportation between various intermediaries to the ultimate retailer, preventing counterfeiting.

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SecureForm FormBuilder v2.0 Released

Published: December 2nd, 2017

FormBuilder v2.0 has just been released.  FormBuilder allows users of all skill levels to create and host secure web-based forms that are tightly integrated with the SecureForm form data processing, storage, and delivery service.

FormBuilder v2.0 includes a number of highly requested enhancements.  These include:

  1. Drag-and-drop form building
  2. Responsive design, including:
    1. Responsively sized form fields and tables
    2. Bootstrap-based responsive grids
  3. Simplified user interface
  4. Easy inclusion of Bootstrap and jQuery UI libraries

FormBuilder 2.0’s changes are also forward looking.  It is designed so that it will be easy to add more “drag-and-drop” interface elements and common JavaScript libraries in the future.  And we have lots of great ideas in mind here!

FormBuilder Overview Video

If you would like a tour of using FormBuilder, we have prepared a video.

LuxSci’s System Status Page Re-launched

Published: November 21st, 2017

LuxSci’s system status page, accessible at, has been re-launched with more features and options.

Previous, this page was hosted with, in order to provide a convenient area independent of LuxSci’s own infrastructure on which to post status announcements.  At LuxSci, support is extremely important to us.  We wanted to provide more through our system status area, so all of our customers can be aware of incidents and maintenance.

The new site, also at

  • Has a very clean and clear view of our current and recent status.
  • Provides a visual indication of the status of LuxSci’s systems and a visual history of recent status.
  • Integrates data from “” regarding connectivity to LuxSci’s systems.
  • Allows you to subscribe to receive notices via:
    • Email
    • SMS / text message
    • WebHook
  • Broadcasts notices to @LuxsciStatus on Twitter.

If you were previously subscribed to email notices, you will need to re-subscribe on the new system.  If you are interested in SMS or WebHook alert channels, we recommend going to our status page and signing up for these as well.



Understanding Blockchains – Part 3: Ethereum, or moving beyond Bitcoin

Published: November 20th, 2017

Readers of our previous posts in this series (part 1, part 2) should by now have a reasonable understanding of what a blockchain is – its rationale, and how it is created and maintained. For continuity, it is important to reiterate that a blockchain is a decentralized ledger (a record of any sort of information) where every node in a peer-to-peer network maintains a copy of that ledger. Even though nodes may go out of synch with their peers from time to time, the ledger is eventually made consistent so that there is a common agreement on its contents.

Blockchains differ from each other on the types of entries made to the ledger and how such entries are made, validated and confirmed by all the participants in the system to achieve the common and tamper-proof record. For public blockchains, the mechanisms should ensure that these properties hold even when the participants are not always available, known to each other and, perhaps most important, who may not trust each other.

We explained these points using Bitcoin as an example of a successfully deployed public blockchain that records transactions of that eponymous currency. In part 2 of our series, we also used the following architecture picture to separate out and describe the different components that make the entire Bitcoin system tick.

The Bitcoin blockchain is an example of a ledger that records transactions – the transfer of ownership of some token (e.g., bitcoins) from one participant (represented in Bitcoin by an address) to another. This is sufficient for Bitcoin as its purpose is quite limited – the need to create a record of pseudonymous ownership of the crypto-currency that is decentralized, validated and immutable. However, as can be imagined, many have come to see this as quite a limited use of the very powerful tool it created to effect this, and the infrastructure that has grown to support it. Read the rest of this post.

Protecting Your Account from Social Engineering

Published: November 14th, 2017

LuxSci adds new technologies to protect your account from social engineering during support phone calls and chats.


One of the biggest threats to your company’s security, its human error. Phishing attacks where people send email messages reporting to be from trusted sites that users click on and give away information. That’s the biggest threat. But what about social engineering? Read the rest of this post.

Understanding Blockchains (and Bitcoin) – Part 2: Technology

Published: November 10th, 2017

In our previous post in this series, we provided a conceptual view of blockchains, using its implementation in the Bitcoin ecosystem as a way to explain what it means and how it works. In this post, we’ll probe the concepts at a deeper, more technical level again using Bitcoin’s mechanisms as the example. Such details are useful when progressing further, as we shall do in future posts, on the use of blockchains in many other domains that go beyond transacting with crypto-currencies such as bitcoins.

We’ll do this using a layered architecture to help separate the different pieces of the general system, so as to better explain how these vary when moving from one blockchain-based system to another.

Blockchain Architecture

The following picture shows a general architecture of a blockchain based system. It isn’t shown this way in any of the formal blockchain literature, but this author finds it useful to break down and compartmentalize the different aspects when thinking about the differences between various blockchain-based systems.

Blockchain Architecture

The top most layer represents Applications that can be built using the underlying Decentralized Ledger maintained on a Peer-to-Peer network. In the case of Bitcoin, such applications are very simple as the entire architecture supports one straightforward function – the exchange of bitcoins for commerce or speculation. An example is a Bitcoin wallet, created to represent a user’s unspent bitcoins. Blockchains such as Ethereum allow for more complex applications, which we shall discuss in our next post. Read the rest of this post.

HIPAA-compliance Seals Build Trust

Published: November 9th, 2017

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Trust Seals & Their Impact on Sales: Things You Should Know

Published: November 8th, 2017

With visually appealing trust seals on your website, you can expect to get more leads and improve sales.

Have you ever noticed a logo on an e-commerce site that is screaming to tell that their payment system will not compromise your credit card information? Well, this is an example of a variety of trust-building tools called trust seals. The trust seals appear in a site in various forms such as a logo, icon or badge. They may be placed in the header, near a form, and in the footer or navigation menu.

Trust seals increase sales

Some common examples of trust seals are Luxsci’s HIPAA certification seal, Better Business Bureau (BBB), McAfee, TrustedShops, SiteLock, GeoTrust, Thawte, Comodo, PayPal, Visa, Google, Verisign, TRUSTe seals and Shopify.

A graduation certificate from MIT or Oxford will most probably land you up on a high-paying job. Right? (But then after, your performance will decide how long the employer will retain you.) This is similar to what trust seals do to your business. Read the rest of this post.

Understanding Blockchains (and Bitcoin) – Part 1: Concepts

Published: November 3rd, 2017

It is the rare person these days who has not heard of blockchains, if only vaguely and very likely in connection with its implementation in that sensational crypto-currency Bitcoin.  While Bitcoin has been around since 2009, its recent valuations and the speculative market around it have motivated many to try and better understand its inner workings and possibly mimic those to create alternative crypto-currencies. Having missed the Bitcoin boat, entrepreneurs and speculators hope they can get an early start on the next big thing.

The Bitcoin market momentum has led, in recent years, to a great deal of interest in the underlying technology – the distributed ledger called a blockchain, and the eco-system of peer entities that verify, maintain and grow it. Leading companies from different industries as diverse as banking, entertainment, transportation, education, government and many others have started to find in blockchains something that they can use to improve operational efficiency while cutting intermediary costs.

Bitcoin and blockchain

Recent news on the use of blockchains in the medical domain have caught our attention. We suspect many readers of the LuxSci FYI blog have also had their interest similarly piqued. However, such news items are almost always high level and offer very little insight into what is actually being done. To probe further requires understanding something about blockchains through its recent manifestations, particularly the version used in a system called Ethereum. (Ethereum, as we shall see in a later post, is an advance over the Bitcoin ecosystem, borrowing many of its architectural principles while expanding on the usage scenarios.)

To help our readers make sense of such news, particularly those related to the use of blockchain technology in a medical setting, we are providing a multi-part series of blog posts describing the blockchain, using examples of crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum to illustrate how it maintains an immutable record of the states of a system over time, and how new applications can be built on top of such systems.

At the end of this series of posts, having exposed the basic technical foundation, we will describe how blockchains are being used in various industry scenarios, especially medical ones as well as related areas such as identity management, auditable record keeping and data sharing. We hope that after reading these posts, our readers will be able to make better sense of news articles of the sort we referred to earlier.

This first post will describe the concepts behind a blockchain, using Bitcoin as the example. We will explain at a conceptual level, avoiding detailed technical descriptions in this post unless absolutely essential. The next post will fill in all the technical details. Read the rest of this post.

Should I click on this crazy looking URL?

Published: November 2nd, 2017

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