Today, a staggering amount of our data flows through just a small number of corporations, like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo. With the NSA and other surveillance agencies using a variety of arrangements with these companies as a means to trawl our personal and private data (and therefore you should protect your digital privacy), our privacy and the security of businesses is at risk.
So, what’s the solution?
The internet is more centralised than ever before, but the growing move towards decentralisation gives us hope for a more secure online future.
To reduce security risks and protect privacy, people are already opting to store data within their own company infrastructure, rather than centralised cloud devices like Dropbox. Similarly, in messaging systems, decentralising technology is shaking things up – BitTorrent’s Bleep is a recent example.
Decentralised peer-to-peer payment methods like Bitcoin are also growing in popularity. The blockchain technology that started cryptocurrencies (especially Bitcoin) has the potential to disrupt and decentralise the whole internet. It is fundamental not only to Bitcoin, but also to the Ethereum project where it is used to support a platform for developers to build and distribute decentralised applications.
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The most centralised system is DNS (Domain Name System), a hierarchical naming system for computers or any resource connected to the internet. Essentially, this is in the hands of top-level domain (TLD) administrators. Compromising the DNS TLDs can essentially kill the whole internet as everyone is using domains instead of the IP addresses to connect to various services.
But while the technology is there, few are as seductively easy-to-use as a Gmail account, so gaining mainstream adoption is a challenge.
Redecentralize.org is one campaign leading the charge to raise awareness of the dangers of a centralized internet and the associated security risks. As privacy concerns grow, more and more people are listening to what they have to say and moving data away from the central players, choosing not to rely on services like Google Analytics, iCloud and Dropbox.
And this is where startups come in. The big players have too much to gain from gathering consumers’ data, but the demand for decentralised online technology is there, representing a huge opportunity for startups like us to step in and lead the charge.