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It's Time for a New Internet

We’ve had the current internet model available to us for 40 or more years. In that time, we’ve witnessed the rise of the search engine giant, Google and the ecommerce behemoth, Amazon. The Internet of Things relies, of course, on the convenience of being constantly connected to….well…the internet. In a perpetual positive feedback loop where the internet fuels the drive for more “smart” devices and their apps, the number of connected “things” is predicted to rise to over 20 billion by 2020.

Google is no longer a mere search engine. Deploying its expertise in all things data, it’s expanding its reach into hiring and recruitment, cloud computing, and other IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS offerings. Amazon also has increased its presence in areas other than being the predominant digital marketplace. Though Microsoft and Google are competing within the same cloud computing industry, Amazon’s AWS continues to lead the pack when it comes to the percentage of enterprises who use their cloud computing service.

Now, this alone might not be alarming (i.e. the Google’s, Amazon’s, Microsoft’s and their partners having more power over our transactions and personal data). It’s safe to say that a majority of people who are reading this enjoy the instant gratification of having stuff delivered directly to our homes. Being able to instantly find information on just about any topic on Earth is now deeply embedded in our psychological DNA. And what’s not to like about personalized products and services?

But, what are we sacrificing in return for seemingly effortless convenience? Also, what does this have to do with a new internet?

(Note: There is a solution via Skycoin’s Skywire – a distributed internet infrastructure; but, more on that later.)

Centralization is making our data less safe

The internet is no longer completely decentralized. As of now, our data is funneled into various central repositories for storage and analysis. Sure, the servers are distributed throughout various regions – so, we could technically say that it’s “decentralized.” But, it’s funneled through a decreasing number of entities.

We’re not deriding Google, Amazon or any other massive technology company. However, we are pointing out that everyone’s sensitive data is becoming increasingly compromised. Everything we do, say or think is being recorded and stored in some capacity.

For example, cloud based software has greatly increased, and is expected to do so at a rate of 20% annually. Adobe and Microsoft have switched to cloud based subscription models, which means they have larger data collection and storage capabilities. Your data is easily accessible since you’re running those apps on their cloud rather than locally.

While cloud computing offers numerous benefits to both individuals and enterprises alike, it also leaves private information more vulnerable to attacks. Hacking, skimming, and phishing have increased sharply over the last five years. Yahoo’s 2014 data breach is a prime example of the risk we’re emphasizing here (evidently hackers swiped the data of 500 million Yahoo users). You might be thinking, “yeah, but that’s only one example.” Well, there are more to consider:

  • May 2015: Internal Revenue Service is hacked.
  • September 2015: Xbox 360 ISO and PSP ISO are hacked.
  • December 2015: UC Berkeley’s financial data is hacked.
  • February 2016: U.S. Department of Justice database is hacked.
  • March 2016: Snapchat’s employee information is stolen.
  • August 2016: Oracle’s point of sale system, MICROS is hacked.
  • May 2017: DocuSign experienced a data breach.
  • July 2017: Verizon is hacked (again).

Summarily, where our trusty internet is headed appears less and less trustworthy. Businesses and other organizations want your data. They use it, sell it, and have adopted the responsibility for protecting it. Evidently, no matter how “responsible” we believe them to be, the examples here underscore that our private information isn’t as safe in their hands as we’d prefer it to be. Yet, we continue to go about our business, sending data to and fro, all the while either ignoring or forgetting that everyone (both “good” and “bad” humans) is scrambling for that data. Their goal? To turn a profit and minimize the cost of doing so.

But, it’s not just huge corporations and government entities that draw in the hackers. Just about any internet connected device is vulnerable. In 2016, hackers took control of “thousands of devices” and launched a tried and true DDOS attack. They were successful in causing disruptions for Twitter, PayPal, Spotify, Netflix, and major publications such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. As the number of devices grows, so does the likelihood of a data breach. Imagine for a moment having your “smart car” or “smart home” attacked. Yes, the threat is real.

Loss of Net neutrality creates additional threats

If you’re not familiar with net neutrality, here is a quick run down. Essentially, it prohibits internet service providers (ISPs) from picking and choosing which content is viewable and to whom. Also, ISPs cannot choose to slow down load times for certain websites.

Why would ISPs decide to be the judge and jury of internet access?

Profit. If they charge companies or individual users a tiered rate based on how fast they want their internet access, they make money. Additional ROI is accrued by charging fees to access websites the ISPs deem as high traffic. If we consider for a moment how many users Twitter and Facebook have on a daily basis (assuming those would likely be a representative example of having an added fee to access those sites), then the greed is even more transparent.

It shouldn’t be a stunning surprise that Twitter, Mozilla, Netflix, Amazon, and several other internet based biggies support net neutrality. They are facing the potential loss of large consumer segments. Additionally, they’d face higher fees levied by their ISPs since they consume a sizable amount of bandwidth. It all comes down to: pay us, or else you will suffer.

The U.S. Congress is in the midst of deciding the fate of net neutrality. In May of 2017, the FCC voted to revoke net neutrality. If Congress agrees, then we also have a consumer dichotomy coming. If you think the differential between the haves and the have nots is disconcerting now, just wait until your ISP requires more money for your internet to move faster – and on all of your devices.

This highlights the “brokenness” of the current internet and is a signal that the centralized version can easily fall under the sway of people and organizations that do not have your best interest in mind.

Such is the reason we’ve been rapidly developing a new internet: Skywire.

How the Skywire decentralized internet will be different

The idea of a new internet isn’t quite brand new. In 2006, Raj Jain wrote a paper for the IEEE Military Communications Conference. We agree that the “next generation Internet should be secure” and more flexible in terms of allowing individuals, in particular, to “set the policies for how and where they receive their information.”

But, how can we create a truly free and open internet?

To answer this question, we developed Skywire, the new alternative internet. Skywire is a groundbreaking, novel technology wrestles the control from large internet service providers (ISPs) and gives it back to the users. Its peer-to-peer model promotes net neutrality and sharing of content without blocking, slowdowns, or censorship. Skywire’s open-access network preserves privacy and encourages free speech. Our mission in creating Skywire is to shape the internet’s future for the better.

Skywire’s revolutionary new networking protocol is already changing the internet as we know it. The protocol is based on Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS). Benefits of MPLS include speed, quality of service, reliability, and security. Skywire goes beyond these standards to deliver an even faster, better network. It’s designed for high performance and maximum privacy, allowing users to bypass ISPs and take control of their experience, essentially becoming their very own ISP.

Skycoin is the currency of Skywire, giving it a practical application beyond just a digital currency. When the user forwards traffic or provide network resources, he or she receives Coin Hours. Likewise, when the user consumes network resources or media, he or she spends Coin Hours. Users can maximize their Coin Hours in two ways: having high bandwidth in high-traffic areas, or having highly sought-after content.

The Skywire “miner” is meticulously designed and configured to provide a backbone for the new internet. Its custom-built hardware exceeds technical specifications to deliver maximum power and performance. Skywire functions as a “miner” for Skycoins. It acts as a specialized VPN, using the following hardware configuration:

  • 8 CPU boards
  • 2 GB of RAM per board
  • 4 CPU cores per board
  • 64 GB of storage per board
  • 64-bit Linux (Alpine Linux)
  • Gigabit ethernet, 8+1 port switch

Each board features an ARM processor, 2 GB of RAM, and anywhere from 32 to 256 GB flash storage. The hardware is segmented in such a way that even if one service is compromised, the other services on the same machine can’t be. An OpenWRT router with strict packet forwarding rules and access control increases security. The setup can be further customized to consist of 4, 8, 16, or 32 boards.

Users can deploy nodes manually, but automatic deployment is just around the corner. Sky-messenger (github.com/skycoin/net) will provide a service that allows users to peer clusters by public key. Once metering and settlement is implemented, Skywire will generate Coin Hours for operating the network.

Plans are already in place for second-generation hardware, which may include an OLED screen that displays RAM/CPU/Bandwidth and Skycoins per hour, an OpenWRT router, SATA ports on the board for at least 4 CPU boards, and 32 and 64 board models. The network runs on its own internal internet with dedicated hardware. In the future, the above hardware configuration will be extended to support physical wireless mesh networks.

With Skywire, a local cache holds resources without connecting to the external internet. File downloads are copied directly into the local cache. Peers who are looking for that file can get it from you and pass it along the network. By leveraging peer-to-peer technology in an innovative and unique way, Skywire provides a viable internet alternative that’s secure, fast, and sustainable.

The internet’s future is balanced between large ISPs that restrict content for profit and cutting-edge network technology that brings the internet to you, the user. Skywire is at the vanguard of this revolution. The truth is, we don’t need to rely on ISPs to explore the internet. With Skywire’s networking protocol, we’re creating a free, global, decentralized internet experience that’s unlimited by the current market. Our vision for Skywire goes beyond transformation. As we continue to develop this trailblazing technology, one thing becomes clear: Skywire won’t just change the internet. It will reinvent it.

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