Cloudflare invites folk to dabble in the 'distributed web' with InterPlanetary File System gateway

Five billion pages on open-source project, just like the original World Wide Web

Cloudflare has decided the four-year-old InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) project looks strong enough to warrant a little love, and has launched a gateway to allow the IPFS-curious to try out the "distributed web" protocol.

The hosting outfit said users can use IPFS both to find and host content (noting there are currently about five billion pages of IPFS content) without installing and configuring their own client software.

The company explained in a blog post that, as a distributed file system, IPFS has a couple of advantages over HTTP/S: users can host content themselves without big hosts as gatekeepers (just like the original vision for the web, really), and because the address unit is content rather than a host's location, it's resilient against outages at particular hosts.

IPFS borrows its content-addressability from the Bitcoin and BitTorrent protocols. Like BitTorrent, all participants in the network (as Cloudflare put it, from a Raspberry Pi to "the world's biggest server") store and serve blobs of content and, like Bitcoin, content is addressed by its hash.

Cloudflare said: "Rather than asking the network 'get me the content stored at,' you ask 'get me the content that has a hash value of QmXnnyufdzAWL5CqZ2RnSNgPbvCc1ALT73s6epPrRnZ1Xy.' (QmXnnyufdzAWL5CqZ2RnSNgPbvCc1ALT73s6epPrRnZ1Xy happens to be the hash of a .txt file containing the string 'I'm trying out IPFS')."

IPFS addresses, Cloudflare said, are multihashes – they carry information about the hashing algorithm and hash length used (the leading "Qm" in the example indicates SHA-256) as well as the the hash output.

The hashing also protects data from being interfered with in transit, since any alteration to the file will show up when you test the received content's hash against the requested hash.

IPFS hashing - Cloudflare

Tampering with content will show up in the IPFS hash. Image: Cloudflare

The Cloudflare gateway allows users to request IPFS-hosted content from a browser (via HTTPS, using a fully qualified file path that includes the content's hash).

For hosting, "you can also build a website that's hosted entirely on IPFS, but still available to your users at a custom domain name. Plus, we'll issue any website connected to our gateway a free SSL certificate, ensuring that each website connected to Cloudflare's gateway is secure from snooping and manipulation."

The company's demonstrations also include an IPFS-hosted searchable archive of StackExchange; this how-to explains how to host a website on the gateway; and there's a bucket of documentation at the IPFS site here.

IPFS is also being discussed as part of a distributed internet infrastructure project at the Internet Engineering Task Force here. ®

Similar topics

Other stories you might like

  • Deepfake attacks can easily trick live facial recognition systems online
    Plus: Next PyTorch release will support Apple GPUs so devs can train neural networks on their own laptops

    In brief Miscreants can easily steal someone else's identity by tricking live facial recognition software using deepfakes, according to a new report.

    Sensity AI, a startup focused on tackling identity fraud, carried out a series of pretend attacks. Engineers scanned the image of someone from an ID card, and mapped their likeness onto another person's face. Sensity then tested whether they could breach live facial recognition systems by tricking them into believing the pretend attacker is a real user.

    So-called "liveness tests" try to authenticate identities in real-time, relying on images or video streams from cameras like face recognition used to unlock mobile phones, for example. Nine out of ten vendors failed Sensity's live deepfake attacks.

    Continue reading
  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading
  • Conti: Russian-backed rulers of Costa Rican hacktocracy?
    Also, Chinese IT admin jailed for deleting database, and the NSA promises no more backdoors

    In brief The notorious Russian-aligned Conti ransomware gang has upped the ante in its attack against Costa Rica, threatening to overthrow the government if it doesn't pay a $20 million ransom. 

    Costa Rican president Rodrigo Chaves said that the country is effectively at war with the gang, who in April infiltrated the government's computer systems, gaining a foothold in 27 agencies at various government levels. The US State Department has offered a $15 million reward leading to the capture of Conti's leaders, who it said have made more than $150 million from 1,000+ victims.

    Conti claimed this week that it has insiders in the Costa Rican government, the AP reported, warning that "We are determined to overthrow the government by means of a cyber attack, we have already shown you all the strength and power, you have introduced an emergency." 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022