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- February 11, 2020 at 9:43 pm #85660Spectator@precious
Recently, the future of the internet has been a subject of debate and discourse among developers and entrepreneurs. Of the several topics put forward, one of the most interesting and revolutionary is the implementation of a decentralized internet. One may ask, What is a decentralized internet? and why is it even a major topic? Well, here is a little overview on the subject matter.
The problem with the Centralized Internet
The internet is a gigantic multiverse of computer networks that allow data sharing, communication and interaction from different parts of the earth and beyond. It has made life easier by improving how quick information gets dispersed around the globe, reducing by far the time it takes to share data from one point to another, as well as the quality and value of communication between distant parties.
However, a growing concern among many information technology specialists has risen with regards to the methods employed in the management, storage, security, and control of data across the internet. This growing concern is rooted in the fact that the internet is highly centralized (data goes to and from one point, and is stored there as well). This means that for any service delivered on or through the internet, there is a dedicated server installed and designed to transport, store and manage all data created or used by the service(s). For instance, Twitter has dedicated servers designed to monitor and serve as the gateway for all interactions between users on its platform – thus, a user who sends a message to another using Twitter must have that message passed through the central Twitter servers before it gets to the next user(s).
This system is, to an extent, efficient. And rightly so because the database administrators and the managers of such servers can easily track, access and modify information sent to and from the platform from one source – making it appear less costly and easily manageable. It also eases the process of troubleshooting problems from single or multiple clients at a time (customer service is easy).
The Centralized Internet (Source: 101blockchains)
However, the centralized system of data storage and management is highly deficient when dealing with big data, traffic, individual privacy as well as data integrity and security. When dealing with big data, administrators and managers of internet based services are faced with the need to increase the data-storage capacity and processing speed of the servers periodically to beat the traffic generated from its users – a constant need for improvement on storage capacity often impacts on the cumulative management-cost of the servers.
Again, when dealing with user privacy – data is always vulnerable. As long as data has to pass through a central server to get its destination – it will always be accessed by the controllers of such servers – even if the data is meant for one party alone, the interference of a third party is inevitable, and the communicating parties can only hope that the server administrators maintain secrecy. The fact that servers are central also threatens the security and integrity of every user information – as outsiders could gain unauthorized access to the servers through cyber attacks such as hacking, SQL injection etc. and leak secret information, steal or modify delicate user data.
It is also necessary to note that the efficiency and functionality of centralized servers is dependent on their stability – if they should malfunction (probably due to programming error), data may be irreversibly lost, disorganized or have its integrity compromised.
Internet Decentralization as a solution
The continuous concerns about resolving the problems of the centralized internet have led to the proposal and development of a new approach to the management of internet data – known as decentralization. Decentralization is the process of delegating the control of internet resources to a wide variety of users – such that data storage and management is not handled from a central source. In a decentralized system, social services like Facebook are not managed by a central authority, but users have control over the storage and distribution of their data and do not have to depend on Facebook servers to access their profile. Instead, they access Facebook as a protocol, calling it up when they feel like and defining how they want to share their information.
This approach is still undergoing tests at higher and lower levels to ensure stability, speed, cost-efficiency and security on all fronts before it is administered as a permanent alternative. The most popular method of achieving decentralization is the use of peer-to-peer (P2P) networks (A set of computers connected to one another through the internet). In this system, data can be shared directly from one system to another without the need to pass through a central server, every participant in the network can act a server (storing and managing data) or as a client (accessing and uploading data) or both. This system is also secure because all the data on the network is not concentrated at a point, thus, for a hacker to be successful, he has to penetrate all the computers on the network at the same time.
Peer-to-Peer Networks (Source: Liberal Dictionary)
Obstacles to Internet Decentralization
It should be noted however, that as much as a decentralized internet gives the clients the privacy, inclusion and equality they want, there are current downsides to it that will amount to serious glitches if not taken care of. One of them is data control and censorship – in the world powered by a centralized internet, it is easy for the government and lawmakers to make laws concerning what kind of data should be allowed on its cyberspace and direct the technological giants to implement such too. It is also easy for the government to see all that happens in the internet and easily fish out criminals and terrorists.
A decentralized network drops the limitation bomb on these powers, because each member of a decentralized network can act as a server and a client, thus, voting for what should be sent across the internet is either done by an overwhelming majority or a unanimous one. Also, tracking down terrorists and criminals through the web becomes technically exhausting because data and communication sources cannot be traced from a point.
The second glitch decentralized networks would face is reliability and speed. In a centralized network, the speed and data capacity of the network is decided by the servers, and if traffic is high, the server can simply be updated or programmed to handle large scale data transfer and influx efficiently without impacting on speed. Since there is no central server for a decentralized network, the speed of the internet would be decided by the speed of the computers contributing to it. For instance, if a network is made up of computers (acting as servers and clients) with 3rd generation Intel processors, the speed of data transfer across the network would be much slower than a network made up of Computers with 8th generation Intel processors. An internet made up of a blend of these two sets of computers serving as clients and servers may experience varying internet speeds throughout the connection period.
Decentralization of the internet keeps you safe and in control of your data, but also needs improvement and re-modeling to ensure that the problems of data control, tracking, and speed are well taken care of without impacting on privacy and data security.
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