Cloud storage. It seems to be the buzz phrase that’s on everyone’s lips these days. There are certainly some big names in the game, with the likes of Amazon, Dropbox and iCloud competing for consumer dollars, which has helped bring the concept into the mainstream. But while people and businesses may have just started to wrap their heads around what it is and how to make the best use of it, the technology could already be on its way to becoming obsolete.
Cloud storage is essentially a service model where data is managed and maintained remotely on centralized servers and made available to its users over the internet. Typically, people and companies pay for this kind of service because it allows them to have backups and on-demand availability of their files, photos or other personal documents. Prices for the service have dropped over time, but the technology hasn’t always proved to be everything it’s cracked up to be. Security is still an issue and there are frequent media reports about cloud storage accounts being hacked and personal documents and information leaked.
As early as 2016, John McAfee, who had just been named CEO of MGT Capital Investments, was claiming that his new company would become not only a world powerhouse of cyber security, but MGT’s newly acquired non peer-to-peer file sharing system, Demonsaw, was on target to make the cloud a thing of the past. According to McAfee, decentralized file sharing is what the Internet should have been in the first place, partly because it does away with the reliance on a third party to store and protect data. McAfee’s claims haven’t quite come to pass yet, but he did understand that blockchain technology was going to change the landscape.
There’s no doubt a decentralized system has a lot of benefits over today’s cloud storage systems. Cloud’s biggest weakness, according to Toshiki Tashiro, CEO and Director of Module, a new cryptomining and blockchain-based decentralized file storage network company, is that the current technology is a trust-based system. “Centralized systems are highly vulnerable to hacking,” argues Tashiro. “Many of the server-based systems rely on the exact same infrastructures, so it’s easy for hackers to create malware that could infect the entire system. Distributed networks provide better protection, and with our solution, we provide client-side encryption, while our blockchain capability ensures the reliability of data through what is called proof of decryption.”
A few upstart blockchain competitors like Filecoin, Storj, Maid Safe, and Sia vying for space in the decentralized storage networks sector, but Tashiro’s Module is hoping to turn the entire ecosystem on its ear for good with their new platform. Module is a unique player because it offers a truly decentralized system that does not store information in just one place. Their platform uses something they call “secret sharing.” After a client encrypts their data and uploads it to the app, the data is divided into fragmentary pieces that are then stored in a multitude of separate places. Sensitive information is virtually hack-proof since it cannot be reproduced with only one fragment.
One of the company’s most interesting features is that it lets anybody anywhere in the world act as a “data host” by allowing users to employ simple tools they already own, like their computer, mobile phone or smart TV. The company estimates that there is possibly 32 EB of surplus storage available sitting dormant in people’s homes around the world that could be put to use for things like cryptocurrency mining and shared data storage. The spare memory available on these millions of devices could basically act as the data storage network of tomorrow.
Those fragments of data mentioned earlier are stored on the platform users’ peer devices and will always be readily accessible even when some devices are offline because multiple copies of the data will exist in the blockchain. Users will set their own price for storage rental, and they will be rewarded for the amount of space shared and the length of time it’s used. In exchange for storing the data or opting in to act as a conduit for data storage, users will gain rewards in the form of MODL tokens.
If McAfee entered the game early, it’s clear that decentralized data storage could mean big stakes in today’s digital storage world. With the rise of big data, businesses need secure, reliable and cost-effective storage options. And it seems a lot of players are bypassing cloud technology for more decentralized solutions.
About the Author
John Iadeluca is a Manhattan-based digital asset trader, analyst, and developer. You can follow him on Twitter: @johniadeluca and contact him via email: [email protected]