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Cryptographic anchor facts for kids

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A cryptographic anchor (also "crypto-anchor") is a unique identifier (or "fingerprint") that can be put into products and cannot be removed or changed. Crypto-anchors can be tiny computers or optical codes. This means they can even be put into dye. The cryptographic anchor is connected to a blockchain. Its uses include prevention or detection of fraud as well as product tracing.

IBM has worked on developing cryptographic anchors. Proposed uses include labeling a pill (the code for the dye would become visible when touched with water) and marking fluids. The reason for using these anchors is to ensure authenticity of products. The suggested cost of these tiny (smaller than a salt grain) items was projected at less than ten U.S. cents.

Giulio Prisco wrote that "The cryptographic anchors project is considered a starting point for developing technologies complementary to the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain solutions for medical devices and pharmaceutical products, able to provide scalable end-to-end security across a supply chain — from the manufacturers right down to consumers and patients.

"A typical application envisioned by IBM is fighting product fraud. IBM’s crypto-anchors can authenticate a product’s origin and contents, ensuring it matches the record stored in the blockchain."

Prisco wrote that in 2018 IBM was predicting widespread use within five years.

V. S. K. Balagurusamy et al., "Crypto anchors," in IBM Journal of Research and Development, vol. 63, no. 2/3, pp. 4:1-4:12, March-May 2019, doi: 10.1147/JRD.2019.2900651.

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