Last time we met, we were discussing the pending White House Cybersecurity Executive order that is aimed at putting tighter security into place for cloud infrastructure. The problem, as stated by the acting National Cyber Director is that the cloud has “become essential to our daily lives. If it’s disrupted, it could create large potentially catastrophic disruptions to our economy and to our government”. In essence, the director stated that the cloud is “too big to fail”.
As cited in part one, the reason for the concerns about the cloud boils down to the storage of the data. As stated by Politico, “For all their security expertise, the cloud giants offer concentrated targets that hackers could use to compromise or disable a wide range of victims all at once”. “The collapse of a major cloud provider could cut off hospitals from accessing medical records; paralyze ports and railroads; corrupt the software that helps financial markets; and wipe out databases across small business, public utilities and government agencies.”
“For all their security expertise, the cloud giants offer concentrated targets that hackers could use to compromise or disable a wide range of victims all at once”.Politico
So how does the cloud move forward when the issue of mitigating the risk associated with massive amounts of collocated storage continues to grow? The solution may lie in decentralization.
Real change is coming
The underlying issue being faced by these large cloud providers is large server farms which provide easier targets for nefarious actors. Decentralization, however, is quickly changing this. Decentralization is defined as “the transfer of control of an activity or organization to several local offices or authorities rather than a single one”.
So, How Does Decentralization Work?
As provided in the definition, there are two steps that can be taken for decentralization. The first of which is to decentralize the storage itself. In other words, taking the storage repositories and spreading them out across a broader geographical area. By decentralizing the storage repositories, we are directly addressing the cited problem of having all the files stored in a single, easy-to-attack location. Simply spreading out the storage makes it much more difficult for attackers.
The second step as provided by the definition is the decentralization of “control”. Moving the storage repositories is a great first step, but the access to them remains in the control of the same people, regardless of where they’re stored. So the hackers can still directly attack the providers themselves. Decentralization of control means democratization of the networks themselves, or to spread out the control of the storage repositories.
How Can Blockchain Technology Help?
Blockchain networks are decentralized. The nodes powering these blockchain networks are individually owned and operated by users of the blockchain network, which directly addresses the “control” issue. The coding used by most blockchains is open-source, so anyone can own and operate a node. Since each node is individually owned and operated, there needs to be trust established between them in order to make the network function autonomously and without direct oversight by a company or single entity. To facilitate trust between the nodes, a consensus mechanism is required. The consensus is typically in the form of a cryptographic algorithm that needs to be solved by the node(s) in order for a transaction to take place, allowing content and transactions to move through the blockchain.
While blockchain can provide one component of the decentralization process by distributing network control, we still need to directly address file and content storage. This can be done with a distributed file management system such as the Interplanetary File System (IPFS). IPFS simply is an open-source file management system that enables files to be uploaded to the network and broken into tiny encrypted pieces. These pieces are then sent to the decentralized network and stored across a number of nodes based on the network configuration. Functionally, you wind up with a bunch of tiny file fragments, each encrypted and stored across a network of storage nodes that are not geographically collocated, making it extremely difficult for a hacker to target a location and attack the storage.
With blockchain, files can be stored in a decentralized fashion, and the control of the networks themselves can be decentralized, meaning that direct control of the content itself is no longer under the management of a single corporation, but is democratized by a network that is autonomous.
Decentralization, in our view, is the long-term solution to cloud storage and content management. If you’d like to find out more about how decentralization, blockchain, and IPFS can help you keep your files and data safe, here are some additional resources for you to review.
How Can AXEL Help?
Simply put, AXEL Go is positioned to thwart these threats at the source. Our blockchain-backed file storage and sharing solution is built on a foundation of decentralization and reliability. The concerns the White House has are already being addressed by our cutting-edge protective measures. Where standard centralized solutions are riddled with points of failure, we have instead built a system that is built to both sophisticated attacks and routine technical difficulty.
Try AXEL Go for free today to see just how secure your file management solution can really be.
Politico | White House Cloud Overhaul
Security Boulevard | Biden Regulate Cloud Security
White House to Regulate Cloud Security: Good Luck With That
The White House | Executive Order Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity
Cointelegraph | What is Decentralized Storage and how does it work?