Blockchain is a system of recording information in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to change, hack, or cheat the system. A blockchain is essentially a digital ledger of transactions that is duplicated and distributed across the entire network of computer systems on the blockchain. All of these qualities make blockchain the best candidate for safe and permanent record keeping. Additionally, cryptographic concepts that form the underlying structure of Blockchain, such as digital signatures, can be utilized for other means as well.
Certificate data is of high importance and is intended to be long-lived. Using blockchain the security of the produced certificates is guaranteed and certificates will live on the blockchain as long as blockchain exists. What's more the process of certificate management becomes decentralized, trustless, secure, and immutable.
In order to provide our users with the utmost transparency and security for keeping their valuable certificate data, Shift iQ has opted for Blockchain integration for certificate management. We have designed and developed our certificate manager system on top of the Ethereum network using smart contracts. A smart contract is a piece of logic, intended to automatically execute, control, enforce and verify or document events and actions according to the terms of a contract or an agreement. In another word, smart contracts are computer programs that enforce an agreement based on a contract without the need for a third party and they are running on all the nodes in the Ethereum network.
While designing our blockchain-based certificate manager we aimed to provide our users with below advantages:
Decentralization, transparency, and immutability, these three come hand in hand with blockchain.
Decentralization, to prevent a single point of failure. Now our users can verify their certificates regardless of the Shift iQ servers' situation, the process of verification happens on chain and nothing can hinder it.
Immutability, our users' certificates are extremely important to us. Therefore, we wanted to make sure nothing can corrupt their certificates and change their stats, also they will exist on top of the blockchain as long the underlying blockchain itself exists.
Transparency, everyone participant on the Ethereum network can access transactions and monitor the system to prevent malicious activities.
Safety, the security of all the transactions on the blockchain is guaranteed by a set of cryptographic functions, and they are constantly verified by thousands and thousands of nodes running on the Ethereum p2p network.
What's more, Shift iQ has opted to pay for all the costs of transactions regarding certificate publication on blockchain to make the process as painless as possible for the users. In this way, our users get all the benefits that come with Blockchain without any of the drawbacks.
In order to jump in with Blockchain technology, we first need to have a wallet, since Shift iQ's certificate manager has been built on top of the Ethereum network, we need an Ethereum wallet. A wallet is normally used to keep and manage digital assets such as cryptocurrencies.
Wallets can also be used to communicate with blockchain and smart contracts. One such wallet is MetaMask, the rest of this tutorial is based on this wallet. However, you can choose any wallet of your choosing as long as it has web3 capabilities.
MetaMask wallet is a browser extension that can be downloaded from web stores such as chrome web store based on your browser. Below you can find steps for installing this extension on Chrome.
Step 1. Install the extension from chrome web store.
Step 2. Once installed press Get Started button in MetaMask window, then hit I Agree, and then Create Wallet and buttons and finally set a password for your wallet.
Step 3. After the installation phase you will be presented with 12 words that are used for driving your private key, make sure to write them on a secure piece of paper, as these words are the key to your funds on blockchain.
Step 4. Hit next and then in the next window use your physical backup to re enter the same words in the same order for the final step.
Step 5. After this step, you can see your balance, and connect to your Meta mask wallet by hitting MetaMask icon on the top right corner of your browser, right across the search bar in the extensions section.
Connecting your wallet to Shift iQ
Once you have MetaMask up and running you can redirect to your profile page at ShiftIQ to connect it to your wallet. In order to do this, just hit Connect your wallet on the first column of the profile page. You will then need to log in to your MetaMask wallet and connect it to Shift iQ website.
Once connected you will be presented with a one-time nonce to sign, and by signing this nonce using your wallet's private key you can prove your identity to Shift iQ. After this process, your signature alongside your public key will be stored in the Shift iQ database and can be used to establish your identity for future use.
In order to publish your certificates, you can head over to your dashboard and find your certificates under My Achievements. From this menu, you can hit Publish on Blockchain button in front of each certificate to see the certificate publication page. On this page, after checking your certificate data you can hit the publish button in order to finalize the process on your side.
After hitting the publish button, the corresponding transaction will be put in an internal queue within the Shift iQ application and will be published on the public blockchain after some time, once the publication process is finished you will be notified and you can verify your certificates using the Shift iQ verification page.
Admin Certificate publication
Administrators of an organization are provided with batch publish functionalities that can be accessed from their administrative panel. This functionality can be found under records > Learner Achievements page and in the last column of the results table.
Published certificates can be verified from Shift iQ's certificate verification page, you only need to enter your certificate identifier and hit verify to receive the verification message. Using this page, anyone can verify any Shift iQ certificate and observe some complementary data regarding the certificate. You can also access this menu by hitting verify button in the My Achievements of your dashboard.
Login With Blockchain
Another interesting integration of Shift iQ with Blockchain technology can be found on the login page, this functionality provides our users with the benefit of logging in to their accounts using a digital signature associated with their Ethereum wallet. In order to use this functionality you need to connect your Ethereum wallet with Shift iQ through the steps mentioned. You can then use the login with blockchain button on the login page for your consequent logins. You just need to sign a nonce every time to prove your identity. No password or username is required.