CloudFlare and its Efforts to Decentralize Internet
Back on September 17, CloudFlare introduced a new decentralized content gateway through InterPlnetary File System (IPFS) which will serve as a platform for new reliable and secure web applications.
CloudFlare provides content delivery network (CDN) services and DDoS protection. That is, the company is an intermediary between websites and visitors to these sites. The system protects the websites by filtering suspicious requests. Moreover, it is able to speed up its performance through CDN.
On the matter, CloudFlare’s CEO, Matthew Prince, explained:
“At that data center, we’ll make a series of determinations: Are you a good guy or a bad guy? Are you trying to harm the site? Or are you actually a legitimate customer? If we determine that you’re a bad guy, we stop you there. We act essentially as this force shield that covers and protects our customers.”
The company was created back in 2009 and launched the first beta in June 2010. Later o September, CloudFlare was launched at the TechCrunch Disrupt event in San Francisco. At the moment, the company is serving 8 million clients and is powering nearly 10% of all internet requests.
There are some small companies that pay a few dollars for basic protection, while some clients pay up to million dollars to receive support 24 hours and he most advanced protection.
In the last years, he company has been working to help maintain net neutrality. In 2011, for example, the hacker known as Lulzsec wrote a tweet in which he showed its support to CloudFlare and that the company helped them handle a DDoS attack on their site.
Clearly, the company has been working against attackers, but in some way, it has also started to protect other radical figures in the space. Later in 2013, CLoudFlare was called terrorist’s ‘helper.’
Later in March 2017, the Southern Poverty Law Center decided to publish an article that claimed that CloudFlare optimized content deliver for over 48 hate sites in Europe.
But the situation reached a limit. In August 2017, CloudFlare had to betray its principles related to net neutrality. A Neo Nazi website wrote a hate post in which they suggested that CloudFlare shared their ideology because they were offering services to them. However, after this situation, Prince Holloway, founder of the company, denied the website the service.
Is the next step a decentralized content gateway? Well, it seems a logic step towards improving its services. The CloudFlare InterPLanetary File System (IPFS) Gateway is a simplified way to access the IPFS. The system is blockchain based and is powered by thousands of computers that store files and act as nodes.
IPFS works in a different way than HTTP systems. The new IPFS system uses a cryptographic hash on a file as the address to enter a specific site. The HTTPS system works by sending a request to the server’s IP and, as a response, it introduces a content-addressed system.
Juan Benet, working for Protocol Labs is the created and founder of the IPFS project, which became open source in 2014.
The new product presented by CloudFlare would have an important impact in the space and help expand the IPFS.
About the new product, the company explained that IPFS will be providing a strong boost to content on the distributed web. With this new gateway, it will be possible to access, in a simplified way, to a casual browser by interacting with a decentralized network.
“At the most basic level, you can access any of the billions of files stored on IPFS from your browser. But that’s not the only cool thing you can do. Using CloudFlare’s gateway, you can also build a website that’s hoster entirely on IPFS, but still available to your users at a custom domain name.”
At the moment, CloudFlare is promoting its gateway granting free SSL certificate to those websites connected with this new service.
The company explained that CloudFlare’s IPFS gateway is simply a cache in front of IPFS. Moreover, they are not able to modify or change content from the IPFS network. There is still a possibility to share abusive content. Users will also be able to report this kind of content through the current reporting mechanism.