In times when government organisations under the garb of national security are breaking into servers of many popular online services and accessing the private data of individuals, BitTorrent has come up with a solution. It has extended its P2P framework to work as one of the ways of avoiding prying eyes. Progress has been made in this regard, via a browser software, dubbed Project Maelstrom.
BitTorrent Maelstrom browser
The web browser is currently in beta stage and is available for Windows users only, but BitTorrent has stated that future versions of the browser will be available for Mac and Linux users, as well.
The transformation from alpha stage to beta stage has been achieved by expanding the group of testers and offering a new set of developer tools. BitTorrent claims since the alpha release, it has improved stability, support for auto-update, DHT visualization for users when loading torrents and more. The main advantage offered by latest release is that it can remain nearly immune to site outages caused by an overload in traffic or DDoS attacks.
Maelstrom can solve most of the problems we currently experience with the web. A distributed network such as this that relies on file sharing from all its users would put less stress on server networks.
For instance, if a popular news story goes online on our website the Post’s servers would then have to withstand a sudden inflow of unusually high traffic. A peer-to-peer system capable of handling stress by allowing people to share and deliver the data among themselves could then help us.
The process would also have no affect on “tracking” as every time you connect to a torrent your IP address is publicly view-able by anyone connected. IP address is somewhat similar to home address, which your ISP records all time. So the second you connect to an illegal file/document, your IP address identifies you are downloading, and also distributing this content, a major reason why people who download from torrents receive letters from the copyright holder requesting a cease and desist.
“We believe this project has the potential to help address some of the most vexing problems facing the Internet today. How can we keep the Internet open? How can we keep access to the Internet neutral? How can we better ensure our private data is not misused by large companies? How can we help the Internet scale efficiently for content?” BitTorrent said in a blog post.
How does it help avoid prying eyes? Pretty simple, Since there are no servers in a P2P system, there is no storage to access and read.
The iteration comes close to Chrome browser on many grounds. It’s based on the Chromium open source code, but what distinguishes it from the Chrome browser is the fact that it can handle few more URLs than Chrome. That said, BitTorrent isn’t officially supporting Chrome extensions and apps from the Chrome Web Store. However, you can still install content from the Web Store and a lot of it should work. Anyone up for testing can grab the tools and start building sites over GitHub.
Its unclear how Maelstrom browser would operate compared to the capabilities of the current server-client system we have. Will websites specifically support Maelstrom? Or can it distribute any data publicly available on the web via a peer-to-peer network?