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An end-to-end encrypted, peer-to-peer file storage, sharing and communication network

We have designed to give you back control over your data. It is an open source, secure, self hostable file storage and sharing platform. All your files are encrypted locally and your private keys never leave your machine.

The browser's capabilities have come a long way since we started. Things that we can do now were not possible 5 years ago. The Inter-Planetary File system (IPFS) has come a long way in solving many of the peer-to-peer networking problems and laying a solid structural foundation to build on. That's why very early on after IPFS started we switched from our own networking and distributed hash table to IPFS, allowing us to focus on our core principles of privacy and security.

Thanks to some very generous support from Protocol Labs (the initial creators of IPFS) we have been able to accelerate development recently. We've released a bunch of cool new features and are much closer to our public alpha. Let's go through a few of the big ones.

Decentralization

The first new feature is proper decentralization. Now you can self host your own application instance and transparently interact with users on other servers, whilst being independent of the domain name system (DNS) and the SSL certificate authorities (central points of failure outside our control). You can even log in to your account through someone else's application server. Our app interface can actually be entirely self hosted from within IPFS itself (i.e. you can log in through a standard ipfs instance rather than a the app instance)!

This was all achieved with IPFS p2p streams. p2p streams are a new feature in IPFS which let you create a tcp socket between any two IPFS instances. This stream is end-to-end encrypted with basically TLS, with a different handshake because the end points are not location addressed - instead the addresses are the hash of each node's public key. Like all other IPFS connections, this stream will tunnel through NATs and firewalls transparently.

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We implemented a new http endpoint on the IPFS gateway

which allows you to proxy a http request to any target IPFS instance (who is listening) using these p2p streams.

This new endpoint is accessed through the gateway (after enabling it - it's an experimental feature for now)

We've had the ability to grant read access for years, but only this year have we finally implemented granting write access to other users. Every write is signed by a signing keypair. Initially you only have one signing keypair for your entire filestystem, which means that to only grant write access to a subtree, it needs to be moved to a new signing keypair.

To explain how this works we're going to take a few steps back

Every directory or 5 MiB section (chunk) of a file requires a unique capability to access it consisting of:

  • Owner
  • Signer
  • Label
  • Read base key
  • Write base key

Here the owner and signer are (hashes of) public signing keys, label is a random 32 byte label, and the read and write base keys are symmetric keys. If someone has the first 4, which amount to a location and a key, then they can read the file or folder that it points to. If they also have the write base key, then they can also make modifications.

When you grant write access to a file or folder then you are just revealing the write base key to them. This enables them to extract the private signing key and thus make modifications. Initially your entire filesystem is under the same signing key pair. This means were we to naively grant write access by sharing this key then the recipient could delete (though not read) all your files. To avoid this we first move the file or directory to which we want to grant write access to a new signing key pair. This allows us to only grant the friend write access to the particular part of our filesystem we want to share. Voila!

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