Having appeared in March 1989, 31 years ago, the Internet has become one of the fastest-growing projects in the history of mankind. By 2025, it can turn into one of the basic human needs, at least for the vast majority of people on the planet.
Obviously, most people know what the Internet is. However, very few of them can clearly explain how the Internet works, what decentralization is and what is special about the decentralized network. It is these concepts that can hold the key to solving the question of ensuring maximum data security on the Internet.
A decentralized Internet is a blockchain in which data is stored in encrypted form. It means that only the person whom this information belongs to or the one who has such rights can change the data. Information cannot be compromised, altered, or deleted by a random person. Thus, almost total protection of information from hacking is provided.
All data kept on the blockchain network is encrypted with a reliable information protection protocol. On the one hand, this may seem to be very ambiguous, since by 2024 the first quantum computer is expected to be able to crack any cipher in a matter of seconds due to a significantly higher production power compared to traditional computers. However, there is still a whole 5 years in order to improve existing cryptographic algorithms that are resistant to quantum computing.
Now the question is: can the modern centralized Internet provide the necessary level of data protection? And the answer is obviously no. With the growing power of Internet giants such as Google and Facebook, user data no longer belongs to them. If earlier we could place a home page even on our own computer, now we give all our data to Internet giants and, as a result, we are increasingly seeing news about another leak of information.
Decentralization as it was originally conceived
The "worst-first" concept also affected decentralization, or rather its first form with many shortcomings – the first peer-to-peer (p2p) networks that appeared long before web 2.0. The original use case of p2p is file-sharing; the first networks were designed to share music. While the first networks (such as Napster) were essentially centralized, the degree of decentralization gradually increased and technologies improved. Eventually, systems with a “download queue” were replaced by torrents, and the concept of distributed DHT hash tables appeared. It was also assumed that in p2p networks the content is stored locally on the user's device and distributed to other participants.
Now, a large number of users refuse to store information on the device and completely rely on online services. One way or another, a decentralized architecture is always more complex than a centralized one. In centralized resources, there is a strict dictate of server code. In decentralized – the need to negotiate between many equal participants. Of course, one cannot do without cryptography, blockchains, and other achievements worked out mainly on cryptocurrencies.
It is likely that in the future, the formation of an ideal decentralized network may require some cryptographic mutual trust ratings created by network participants for each other. At the same time, the network architecture should allow for effective protection against botnets, which, existing in a certain cloud, can, for example, win ratings together. Another threat is Internet giants and large corporations with technical superiority and the ability to take control of such a decentralized network still having access to user data and thereby discounting the very idea of decentralization.
Decentralized Internet (not) here and now – real pioneer experience
According to experts, the global market for blockchain systems will grow from $2 billion in 2018 to $23-54 billion in 2025. However, users are now much more interested not in the numerical indicators, but in the privacy and security of personal data. This issue is being addressed by a number of companies and leading international experts. Among them is the inventor of the World Wide Web and one of Time Magazine's '100 Most Important People of the 20th Century', Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who is currently working on Solid open-source software aimed at putting a person in the Internet development center instead of making money out of it for large enterprises.
The purpose of Solid is to enable users to decide where their information can be sent, who will be able to see it, and which applications will gain access to it. Solid developers have taken the existing WWW protocols (HTTP, REST, HTML) as the basis, but the concept of the new network lies in the creation of "decentralized sites" that supposedly will be entirely owned by users.
Solid is expected to work on the principle of cryptocurrencies with users receiving a kind of virtual passport – WebID, which will serve as an identifier for both network participants and any information resources. It should allow for better control over the security of personal data, and provide an opportunity for network participants to personally decide who should be given rights to process their information.
So far, Solid is very limited in its functions and scale, and it is unlikely that a new ecosystem will soon appear, even despite recent statements about the expansion of the development team. In one of the latest blog post, Tim Berners-Lee wrote:
“For the world to experience the true value of the web we’re building, we must address the vital issues related to privacy, trust and security.”
Alternative decentralized internet
The WWW inventor is not the only one who deals with the issue of decentralization of the Internet: MaidSafe, Tachyon, Orchid, Skycoin, BlockCloud are also on the market. Mostly among these solutions are decentralized Internet protocols. One of the most popular of them, for now, is the Tachyon Protocol – the first decentralized VPN that has been recently launched on Google Play and backed by IPX - the new Top 130 cryptocurrency according to Coinmarketcap. It reconstructs the TCP / IP stack using its own iterations of proven P2P technologies – DHT, blockchain, UDP, and encryption. This, in turn, provides high data transfer efficiency, a more reliable, stable and anonymous Internet connection.
Even without being the first in the Internet protocol market, the Tachyon team offers an advanced technical solution, actively collaborating with a blockchain database cloud project that uses a unique Supernode-Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism for security, V Systems, and X-VPN, a renowned VPN service provider used by 50 million + people worldwide, still expanding its community, as well as introducing a Tachyon VPN product on various platforms, including iOS, Android and Mac.
Among other things, this decentralized protocol has an optimized economy that can motivate all participants to honestly develop the ecosystem. The official digital currency of the protocol already has a certain value and is placed on many top exchanges, such as HitBTC and OceanEx, and according to recent data, IPX is waiting for placement on another major exchange called HotBit, which is in the top 2 in terms of trading volume according to Coinmarketcap.
It is interesting to note that behind the project is none other than Sunny King, the creator of the Proof of Stake consensus mechanism. Sunny is a cult hero figure in the cryptocurrency space making rare appearances in public to maintain his anonymity.
Blockchain vs data leakage via Internet giants’ services - is there an obvious winner?
Existing TCP/IP-based Internet connectivity lags behind the growing user demand for stability, speed, and security. Therefore, developers of decentralized Internet protocols intend to solve this problem by implementing them in various industries, such as VPN, IoT, decentralized storage, decentralized financial systems, CDN, games, etc.
Let's analyze how the decentralized Internet protocol works using the example of Tachyon: it is an open-source decentralized network stack that combines decentralization and encryption methods to provide a self-contained Internet environment with a high level of security, traceability, availability and maximum network speed.
The Tachyon protocol is based on three main components: Tachyon Booster UDP, Tachyon Anti-Analysis (TAA) and Tachyon Security Protocol (TSP). TSP is responsible for preventing network interception and “man-in-the-middle” (MITM) attacks, playing an important role in preventing almost all types of attacks, bypassing firewalls and filtering. Tachyon Anti-Analysis (TAA) is used to decompose and transmit information. This protocol is based on a parallel multi-path routing scheme and is able to split a piece of information into several different IP packets and then redirect them along different paths, so single-point attacks cannot receive all the information.
Tachyon Booster is responsible for the Internet, in particular, for the transport and application layers of the TCP/IP protocol using proven technologies such as point-to-point protocol at the IP network layer, distributed hash table, user datagram protocol, and blockchain. It is able to accelerate data transfer up to 1000% without sacrificing data security, which in itself is an excellent achievement of the industry.
A decentralized Internet is no longer just a theory. Every day more and more practical applications are invested in this concept. Undoubtedly, we are still at the initial stage when decentralized technologies are still in development and it is too early to talk about the beginning of the mass adaptation of cryptocurrency and complex decentralized systems. It may take more than a decade to completely change the web landscape, but the trends are already clearly defined and all that remains is to wait for the technical implementation of existing ideas and the first technologies.