General

New Team Members at MaidSafe!

We’ve had a few new starts here at MaidSafe this week. So, as is traditional around here, we’ll let them introduce themselves. Welcome to Pierre, Lionel and Kayley!

PIERRE CHEVALIER

One more ant joins the colony. And that particular ant can’t wait to be an active part of this ambitious project. Let’s rebuild the internet the way it should have been built in the first place: decentralized, resilient, safe, for everyone.

Hi, I’m Pierre, French Londoner, Rust programmer, open-source enthusiast, SAFE Network advocate in pubs.

I’ve been a Londoner since 2012, when I started my career as a C++ programmer. For the first 5 years, I worked on the numerical engine behind gPROMS™, a chemical plant simulation/optimization platform. I learnt C++ on the job as I was coming from a chemical engineering background. During my time there, I wrote NLPSQP, a gradient based optimizer, made the MAXLKHD parameter estimation solver faster by distributing the load across CPU cores and performed large scale code cleanups on the ~500,000 lines of code. I also started being really interested in Linux and the Open-Source world around that time.

In 2013, there was a pretty consistent buzz in the Open-Source community about Bitcoin. Pretty sure the buzz started earlier, but that’s when it started registering on my radar. I read the White Paper and was very impressed at how such a simple algorithm could have such groundbreaking implications in the world. There could now be a democratic, trustless peer-to-peer currency and this was all made possible by the blockchain: an elegant algorithm that could be explained in a 9-page White Paper.

At the time, the entire internet was bubbling with ideas on how to use the blockchain or more generally crypto technologies for solving an array of technical problems that never had an adequate solution before. Many projects started: alt-coins, smart contracts, layers on top of the Bitcoin blockchain itself, decentralized data storage, you name it. Some of these solutions were truly innovative and many of them were a mix of vaporware and scams.

Somewhere in 2014, while looking into this exciting world of possibilities, I learnt about the SAFE network. In this crowded space of crypto solutions, MaidSafe stood head and shoulders above its peers.

Instead of focusing on a specific problem like decentralized encrypted file storage and throwing a blockchain at it, MaidSafe was trying to rethink the foundations of our internet so that solving such a specific problem would be made trivial for any app developer on the SAFE network. The white papers and the few talks from David that I could find made complete sense and even though all the fine details weren’t fleshed out, I could see that this architecture ought to deliver on its promises if executed right. So I started following the project and enthusiastically sharing it with my friends.

A bit later, in 2015 the team decided to rewrite the network in Rust. I had barely heard of Rust back then, but it was supposed to be ‘that cool language by Mozilla’. It claimed to offer C++ speeds without the security pitfalls. I soon started learning Rust in my spare time. It delivered on all the expectations I had from it. For all of C++ faults, I had never really been onboard with more ergonomic languages as they generally sacrificed performance and control over one’s code for usability. With Rust, the language is concise and a pleasure to write in, but I have exact control of what happens to the memory. Oh! And also: no invalid memory access, no use after free, not even a race condition! All thanks to the compiler guiding the programmer towards writing correct code. Long story short, I’ve been working with Rust in my spare time for the last two years and I am completely sold on the language.

The decision for MaidSafe to switch to Rust exemplified an important aspect of the team: they’re in it for the long haul. In software, and especially in the startup world, it is common to favor the quickest path to a minimum viable product over any other solution. MaidSafe picks the solution that will make the network the most closely aligned with the vision. Rust was simply a better choice for security, so the team switched to it despite the costs and risks associated with it. When there is so much pressure to be the first to market, this engineering focus is rare. It is also the only viable way to deliver on the many promises of the network.

So here we are in 2018. I left the quantitative analytics team at a large bank with which I had been working for the last eight months, and decided to follow my passion. I am joining this crazy team of dreamers, ready to change the world one engineering decision at a time.

Watch out! The ants are coming 🙂

LIONEL FABER

Photo by Jefferson Santos on Unsplash

Hey guys! It’s really thrilling to be here and thank you for the warm welcome.

I’m a soon-to-be CS graduate from Anna University, Chennai, India. During my journey in Engineering, I’ve always had a thirst for new tech and how it can make everyday life better. Early on in this adventure, I came across the Open Source community and I was instantly inspired. They made a big deal of privacy and freedom and I realised how important both had to be in today’s data-populated internet world.

Among the various types of technology that I explored along the way, I had discovered that I loved building apps for Android. So many ideas could be implemented — and Android as a platform was so much fun to work with. By this stage, I’d ended up working as a web dev — but there was something missing:

Every night I lie in bed, the brightest colours fill my head, a million dreams are keeping me awake. — Hugh Jackman

This feeling was something I could relate to at that time. Being a part of something new has always given me extra drive but this was missing while I was working for a ‘corporate’ firm. Then, out of the blue, I came across MaidSafe. Browsing through videos about the SAFE Network, one phrase caught my attention.

Privacy, Security and Freedom. For everyone.

MIND == BLOWN

So many great ideas and such impressive work. All this and OPEN SOURCE!

That was it. I joined MaidSafe! 😀

I’m so excited to be here as an Android developer and being a part of this community has been a great experience so far. I look forward to working with you all. Cheers!

(Also posted on Medium)

KAYLEY SNADDON

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Photo by Keith Bremner on Unsplash

Hi Guys! Just a little intro to tell you a bit more about myself.

I am Ayrshire born and bred.  I grew up in Irvine and then moved to Ayr.  I do enjoy travelling Scotland and all of its beautiful scenery – but I’m a homebird so I never see myself leaving for any length of time!

At home, I have an amazing, supportive wife and two wonderful little boys, Caleb and Hayyden.

I spent my childhood and teenage years doing musical theatre and am still known to break into show tunes every now and then. I trained as a Hairdresser in 2009 and went on to train in Media Make Up in 2012; however I had to stop due to ill health during my training for Fashion Make Up so I unfortunately wasn’t able to pursue a career in that industry. When getting back on my feet, I found myself working in mainly Customer Service and Admin roles.

Having had all of the training that I could get from my previous employer, I’ve now moved onto work with MaidSafe as an Accounts Admin, where I feel that my strengths lie. I’m really excited to start my journey with you all and see what the future brings! 

MaidSafe New Team Member: Stephen Coyle

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Hey MaidSafer’s!

Thank you for making me feel so welcome since I joined the team/community/movement 🙂

Here’s a quick intro to me and my background, which will hopefully let you know a bit more about who I am and what I hope to add to the company.

Born and brought up in 1980’s Glasgow during the glory days when Scotland actually qualified for football tournaments (the definition of ultimate glory in Scotland these days), and our teams at least put up a fight in European competition, I graduated with Honours from my Glasgow Caledonian University Computing course. IT jobs in Glasgow were pretty difficult to come by with zero experience, so I moved to just outside London for 3 years where I worked for IBM doing some general tech support, and some Lotus Notes/Domino development and support. The lure of home eventually brought me back to Glasgow where I took a tech support role with Ernst & Young. After moving to a similar role at the University of Glasgow, I found out after I started that testing web apps was a big part of my new job…things would never be the same again!

Software testing went from being an ‘extra’ task in my day to day role, to what I felt most passionate about. I sat my ISTQB test (more about that later) and thought I knew it all…

Time progressed and I moved company. Suddenly I was faced with testing windows apps, mobile apps and web apps. I worked with my colleagues to figure out the best way to test that suited us – this is when I realised that the ISTQB taught way of working is actually pretty worthless in the real world of software testing. ISTQB barely mentioned Agile or exploratory testing. It taught me to create mountains of paperwork for each project, paperwork that would inevitably be ‘copy & pasted’ between each project and so was pretty much worthless. Did I really need to write out manual test steps in huge test scripts which walked someone else through every click & key type? I realised that the time I was wasting following the ISTQB practices could be spent doing something more productive…TESTING!

So onwards & upwards! I built and managed a team across 2 UK sites and was the face of testing to our customers and auditors. We tested various different products concurrently and I even went back to my old university to give a lecture on testing. I must know it all now, right?

Being in management meant that my time actually testing got less and less. I missed the day to day involvement on the frontline, so a few years later I joined FanDuel. I was now tasked with writing automated UI tests (in Python, using Selenuim WebDriver), testing the API (using Postman) and testing core layer Java code (using existing/newly written Python scripts and JSON-RPC requests). I was now also working with microservices and a thorough suite of automated integration tests through the Java – API – Web layers. All a huge difference from where I’d come from. I loved the challenges in learning these new skills and eventually training new starters in them. I caught the bug of learning new things and expanding my testing knowledge – clearly I’m never actually going to know it all, so what other exciting things are out there for me to discover?

I’m pretty active in Glasgow testing meetups – attending, mentoring and hosting. My goal is to talk at a testing conference at some point, I love the buzz and interaction at conferences, it really energises me and fuels my love of my discipline, a discipline that seems to be overlooked a lot. It’s very rare to meet someone who goes to university to become a software tester, we all seem to fall into the role.

Oh yeah, the important stuff – I’m married to my beautiful wife, Shabana, and we have 3 gorgeous girls, Aisha, Nadia and Sofia, aged 5 years, 3 years and 5 months 😀

Anyway, enough about me. I’m really excited to join the team at MaidSafe and can’t wait to get to know you all! Let’s make a difference.
My LinkedIn profile https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephen-coyle-5b4731b9/

MAIDSAFE AND EXCHANGES

Yesterday we were informed that Bittrex are going to be delisting MaidSafeCoin. The suddenness of the news, which takes effect on the 9th of March, came as a surprise. The rapidly changing regulatory landscape in the US (where Bittrex are based) is evidenced with the SEC taking a greater interest and more proactive approach in cryptocurrencies. While we can’t say too much about the process that led to the decision (as we had been asked to sign NDAs) the reason provided was MaidSafeCoin’s current lack of utility on the SAFE Network.

What next

We appreciate liquidity is very important to MaidSafeCoin holders and moving forward we are currently having discussions with multiple exchanges and have already put plans in place to list with a large exchange outside the US. We will be working with them on promoting the new listing and we’ll make a joint announcement about this as soon as we can. MaidSafeCoin continues to be traded on Poloniex, HitBTC, Upbit, Cryptopia and CoinSpot.

For those who have coins listed on Bittrex they confirm on their website that they will give users “…up to 14 days to withdraw any delisted tokens, but in certain instances the withdrawal period may be shortened. Users should withdraw any tokens before the posted withdrawal deadline.”

Focus remains on product

This announcement comes at a time when things are going well within the company and the community. Our team has continued to grow with quite a few new recruits being hired in recent weeks. The company is also well funded and there is more than sufficient resources to facilitate Network beta launch and market the network.

We’re also looking forward to hosting SAFE DevCon 2018 on the 23rd of April 2018 in Ayr, Scotland as it represents a fantastic opportunity to spend some time with part of our 7,500 strong community who are actively developing a number of apps that include decentralised content management systems (SAFE CMS), a decentralized music player (JAMS), file storage (SAFE FS), mail applications and many more. Many of these apps are already designed to support the SAFE Networks new bespoke web browser which is currently being community tested.

This continued focus on ‘the product’ is where we believe we provide real value, both to the world at large and to holders of MaidSafeCoin.

So despite this setback, there is much to be optimistic about in the near future. We will update you with additional exchange listings in collaboration with our partners and keep you updated with development updates weekly via the forum.

MaidSafe New Team Member: Dug Campbell

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Photo by NASA on Unsplash

As we hurtle towards the end of 2017, it’s time to take stock. And the verdict’s in: it’s been a crazy year in the world of cryptocurrency. But thankfully, in most cases, that’s crazy-good, as opposed to crazy-bad. That’s certainly the case for me personally at least. And this is why…

Back in January 2014, I organised the first Bitcoin Meetup in Scotland. As I wrote at the time, it felt like a bit of a leap of faith. Not in terms of the organisation (thanks to Meetup). But because the prevailing view amongst those few who’d actually heard of this ‘magic internet money’ was that the whole thing was a scam and destined to end in tears.

Whether real or perceived, it crossed my mind that there might be a reputational risk in becoming so deeply involved as an organiser. I don’t consider myself risk-averse in any way. But as someone who had enjoyed/endured a legal career of more than a decade, I’m hardly the best person to judge. After all, the risk of loss-aversion has well-known effects on decision-making.

But try as I might, I couldn’t get past one simple fact. I’d spent many months by that stage falling deeper down the proverbial Bitcoin rabbit hole. Late nights wrestling with explanations about the technology, engaging with the economic implications, debating the future potential and limitations. To me, it was clear that change – at a fundamental, disruptive level that would resonate across multiple areas of everyday life – was coming. And yet, as far as I could make out, no-one in Scotland had got together in a room  to discuss what was going on. The decision was made. I might be left sitting alone in that pub one evening – but surely there had to be others out there.  

The story of how the scene in Scotland developed after that first meetup (for which, to be clear, I claim no credit!) is an interesting one. But it’s not the focus here. Nor is the purpose of this post a chance for me to say ‘I told you so’ when we look at Bitcoin in 2017. I believe Bitcoin remains a technology in evolution with an indeterminate end state that has plenty of room left to run. The key thing here is the paradigm shift that’s taking place.

But that very first night in Edinburgh was important for another reason. I’m still in contact with many of the people that I met for the first time that night. But undoubtedly one of the most impactful conversations I’ve had was with someone who’d been one of the first to sign up for that meetup – a guy called David Irvine, who travelled all the way across from the West Coast of Scotland, from an outfit that went by the name of MaidSafe.  

I’d tried to research everyone who’d signed up before the meetup. Not in a creepy ‘let’s-track-you’ kind of way. But in a ‘let’s-build-the-community’ kind of way. I wanted to help people to keep the conversations going after the event. And I have to admit, my feeble brain had struggled to understand what MaidSafe did before the Meetup. But that changed when I spoke to David on that evening. And I was dumbfounded by the fact that a project with such huge ambitions and such far-reaching implications was taking place pretty much under my nose in Scotland.

Since that time, I’ve been heavily involved in the Bitcoin/blockchain scene, particularly in Scotland. But I’ve always been convinced that something big was happening in the mythical shed in Troon. Throughout my travels, I kept pointing people in the direction of the SAFE Network and discussing what it represents. That included asking Nick (Lambert, COO) to give a talk when I put on the Scottish Bitcoin Conference in 2014, running a Maidsafe-focused meetup and also sharing in the rollercoaster excitement of the MaidSafe fundraising in April 2014.

Fast forward four years and I’m delighted to say that I’ve now joined MaidSafe full-time as Marketing and Outreach Coordinator. Most people who start at a new company talk platitudes about their new employers. But you’ll have to take my word for it in this case. I’d continue to sing the praises of the SAFE Network even if I wasn’t working here.

This is why.

MaidSafe’s mission is no less significant than building a new secure network that will revolutionise the way that every one of us uses the internet. Many years ago, David had worked out that we collectively needed a better solution. And MaidSafe is in good company, with none other than the inventor of the web, Tim Berners-Lee, sharing similar concerns. In fact, Tim is working on addressing the same sort of issues with his Solid project at MIT

Over the past couple of years, the problems of data storage and security have only worsened. The concerns so presciently raised by MaidSafe eleven years ago have intensified in the collective awareness of society. We now see daily examples of sensitive personal information and data being hacked or misplaced by third parties. Arguments over privacy and net neutrality dominate the news. And new concerns over the excessive power wielded by giant internet companies are raised daily.  

In short, as the internet has increased in importance to our daily lives, so has the visibility of its major flaws. And crucially – these aren’t issues that will simply solve themselves. We can’t sit back and expect things to improve. Technologies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum have helped to bring the benefits of decentralisation to the forefront of discussion. And even amongst those who remain cynical, few still believe our current architecture remains fit-for-purpose when it comes to the next few decades of human evolution.

In addition to playing a small part in helping to build a solution to a problem that increases with each passing day, there’s another big motivating factor at play for me here. With the emergence of MaidSafe so early in the chronology of recent events, I believe that many over the past few years have simply not had the opportunity to spend  the time to find out what the ultimate success of this project represents. I’ve been a member of MaidSafe’s forum (https://safenetforum.org/) since it was set up (not by the company but by enthusiasts around the world, it should be noted) a few years ago – and I’m constantly bowled over by just how engaged, respectful, intelligent and enthusiastic this community is.

Over the past few years, I’ve given many talks on Bitcoin and the blockchain scene in general. But the reality is that my advocacy has always been a response to the level of community engagement out there. The more people that found out about the subject, the keener they were to explore further. The similarities to me are striking. Today, I don’t think most people are aware that the SAFE Network project has been active for eleven years. Just let that sink in for a moment. Pre-Bitcoin. The project even had a prototype crypto-currency before Satoshi’s White Paper. As I said at the start, in the context of 2017, the SAFE Network is so far from being a hyped product it’s not funny. But it’s clear to me what the SAFE Network is: an open-source project that’s open to all that invokes a passion and belief in a community who are all driving in the same direction.

Remind you of something?

As I start working with the team on a unique project, I can’t wait to get out and do my bit. I remember a comment David made years ago. It was along the lines of “It doesn’t matter who achieves our goal in the end – but it does matter that someone does”. Joining a team that have been toiling away at some of the hardest technical challenges out there for over a decade – for the most part entirely unheralded and under the radar – there’s no doubt in my mind that that’s going to change soon. And I can’t wait to get started.  

If you want to get in touch and have a chat, please reach out. I’m pretty active on Twitter (@dugcampbell) or you can sign up and speak to thousands more via the forum (https://safenetforum.org/). In the meantime, we’re looking for some more people to join us at MaidSafe – so if you’re a UX/UI Designer, Software Support Analyst or Testing & Release Manager and fancy joining the team, please get in touch! 

SAFE Network Autumn/Winter 2017 Update

It has been a busy few months with the SAFE Network, we have had updates on the Network, the APIs and Browser as well as internal changes here at MaidSafe.  

As we continue to grow we have taken the decision to open an office in India.  As we already have a number of key front-end developers in Chennai this new office space will allow us to further develop this team and enabling greater internal collaboration. Being based in  the technological hub of Chennai will help us attract some of the best talent as well as interact with other tech firms, industry events and meet-ups.  We have found a great space in an IT business park which can house up to 30 staff, primarily the front end team.  Renovations and design of these premises is set to be completed by late January 2018. This is a very exciting project and we will be sharing pictures of the office, the renovations and updates on the forum.

As many of you who follow us on the forum and social media will know we have been experiencing some big changes in Scotland too.  We recently moved from our previous office in Troon to a new place in Ayr.  Although this is not a big move geographically it is a bigger and more comfortable space which we hope will allow us to continue to grow both the operations and development teams.  In October we brought onboard a Digital Marketer to help us improve our market presence and marketing strategy.  Alongside Nick, Sarah has been developing the near term marketing strategy; there is a focus on increasing our brand awareness, educating people about the network, improving the understanding  of Safecoin and its unique features, as well as showcasing the world’s first and only autonomous data network to a wider audience.

In line with this Nick has been busy promoting the network from Glasgow to Google. We attended and spoke at the  Scottish Blockchain Meet up in early November in Glasgow.  There was a strong turnout and some very interesting questions and discussion.  If you would like to join the next meet up, keep an eye on our Facebook. On 30th November Nick headed to Dublin to give Google an introduction to the SAFE Network.  Employees from across the globe joined the meeting through a video conference and many more watched the video subsequently.

To maintain the momentum, the marketing department will be further strengthened by Dug Campbell later this month. Dug has worked for a number of leading technology companies including Sky Scanner and MiiCard and has been an advocate of Bitcoin for a number of years, organising Scotland’s first Bitcoin conference in 2014 and speaking about it later that year at TedX Glasgow. With a wealth of knowledge and experience Dug promises to be a great addition to the team.

We are also now recruiting for a number of other roles in our Ayr HQ.  We continue to  look for a UI/UX Designer, Software Support Engineer and a Testing and Release Manager. To start a conversation and join this exciting journey email outreach@maidsafe.net

There has been extensive updates across the network recently and the team are continuing to make strong and consistent advances.  Since the release of Alpha 2 in mid-September there has been a number of test networks and key updates and changes.

Following the release of Alpha 2 there has been two new SAFE Browser releases, V0.7.0 and V0.8.0 both of which made incremental updates and fixed bugs. Following extensive discussion across the dev teams and community it has been decided that a custom Browser should be created following the reorganisation of Beaker since our fork that has made maintaining our current browser difficult.  While we did consider other browsers including Firefox and Brave the work-around were too extensive.  We are therefore creating a Electron-based browser and a Proof of Concept is currently in external testing. This pre-release can be downloaded here.

There has also been updates to the SAFE Apps Nodes.js and SAFE Web APIs following changes to the SAFE Client Libraries. SAFE App Nodes.js has been updated to take advantage of the master branch of the safe client libraries. Further to our commitment to open source and community focused development Nodes.js allows everyone to develop self-contained web apps in Javascript. The DOM API has been updated to reflect changes made in app nodes, this will reduce the number of handles the DOMS API need to expose and will simplify the web apps code. We hope that these changes will improve the developer experience.

The next big challenge for the team is the creation of data chains and we are now nearing the final stage. As you may remember from our previous blog, data chains allow the network to republish data if it should ever lose power.  We have begun coding the features to better express the fundamental and continue to test the design. These designs will be incorporated into the alpha 3 release.  A deeper dive on the data chains design is available here.

In Crust the p2p library integration is almost complete.  This will move reliance away from the slow and unfriendly peer to peer world of TCP and provide more reliable NAT traversal. Integration is a significant step towards a secure multi-protocol, randomised port encrypted network library which will be a great help to many projects, and offer greater security and privacy for users..

We once again want to thanks the SAFE community for your continued support as we work to create the SAFE Network and the levels of data privacy and security you all deserve.

The MaidSafe team.

 

Autonomous Data Networks and Why The World Needs Them

Photo Jingyi Wang

At MaidSafe we talk about the SAFE Network being ‘autonomous’, but what does that really mean? The phrase is something that we are becoming more familiar with, as we hear talk of autonomous vehicles and autonomous robots; as such we probably have a grasp of the underlying concept that autonomous machines do things for themselves. But how does this relate to data and why should we even care?

In simple terms it defines a network that manages all our data and communications without any human intervention and without intermediaries. In an autonomous data network humans take on a new role, we become the definer of rules and protocols that instruct the network on how to manage our data.

The SAFE Network

In practical terms, an autonomous data network is one that configures itself. All data on the network is automatically split into chunks and encrypted (utilising self-encryption) before being stored at random locations selected by the network. Resources are not added to it by an IT administrator; instead nodes join the network anonymously, and are split into small groups at random without any central authority. Each node performs a number of different and clearly defined tasks. These groups, we call them close groups, change as nodes disconnect from and reconnect to the network. They work together making decisions (such as where to store data, who has authority to access data…etc…) on behalf of the network based on the messages they receive. The more technically minded can read in depth about that here.

The network also optimises itself by creating more copies of popular data increasing its availability in order that data requests are served more quickly. This feature also enables SAFE websites to actually speed up as they get more visitors. This is very much contrary to the status quo where we have become accustomed to websites slowing down, or even crashing in severe circumstances under the weight of user requests. Should the network split for any reason, for example through loss of power, it will merge as power is restored, and it will correct faults, such as detecting corrupt data chunks and automatically replacing them with good copies as a result of the networks ongoing data integrity checks.

Remove the middlemen

This design sounds complex, and at the implementation level it is, the dark bags under the eyes of our engineers are testament to that fact, but at a high level it is simple. An approach inspired by the humble ant whose millions of years of evolution influenced the network’s design. Ant colonies exhibit complex and highly organised behaviour without a central authority based on a simple rule set whereby each ant fulfils different duties based on the needs of the colony. Similarly, nodes (computers) on the SAFE Network function in a similar manner where network nodes perform different functions based on the types of messages they receive.

The ant colony shows us that this self managing and self organising behaviour is possible on a massive scale. But why should we try and emulate ants and remove central authorities from the management of our data? Surely for something as important as this, humans are required to oversee operations?

Photo David Higgins

Well, for a start humans are, well human. At our best we are creative, brilliant and passionate, but at our worst we get tired, emotional and we make mistakes. Many data breaches are caused by human error and attackers rely on human interaction to carry out attacks. Researchers at security company Rapid7 found a substantial decline in security alerts on weekends and public holidays which they attribute to less employees interacting with malicious emails, attachments, links and websites. This is in part a result of a lack of training and awareness, only 20% of companies provide cyber security training to their staff, and only 33% have formal policies in place to guide employees.

Human error has also played a significant part in problems with Silicon Valley’s best known companies. In 2011, developers at cloud storage provider Dropbox introduced a bug that left their 25 million client accounts unprotected for 4 hours. Dropbox were subsequently alerted to the problem by an external security researcher and fixed the authentication issue.

Late last year Twitter deleted the account of their CEO Jack Dorsey who lost 700,000 followers in the process citing an ‘internal mistake. Around the same time Facebook deleted posts addressing fake news by their CEO Mark Zuckerberg in error.

While the irony of these incidents can be amusing, they do expose a more serious issue. Not only are humans prone to mistakes, it also highlights that we are afforded access to our accounts and our data by the service providers. We do not really own our information in the true sense of the word. Access to our own data can be removed at any time by the providers either mistakenly or at the request of others.

Physical Security

Physical security plays a hugely important part in all of this. This is one of the major features that an autonomous data networks provides. In data terms, physical security is where the data cannot be: deleted, changed, corrupted, and/or accessed without your (the data owner’s) consent. Only by removing humans from the management of our data can physical security be provided, and is only possible when the storage locations are unknown to anyone but the network, and the user cannot be identified.

Any service where data is stored on servers, federated servers, owned storage locations, or on identifiable nodes, cannot ensure the security of data and brings us no closer to real unfettered ownership of our data. This also includes blockchain based solutions.

The SAFE Network provides physical security by ensuring that only the network knows where the data is and only the user can access it. Even MaidSafe staff don’t know who is on the network, where they are based, what has been stored and where the data is located. SAFE users make a deal with the network and only the data owner can delete or modify the original piece of data with the network verifying who has the right to access each piece of data.

Autonomous things are already starting to have a huge benefit across a number of industries and we are just scratching the surface in finding out how they can positively impact upon our relationship with our data. Rather than making data more secure, the human element unfortunately has the opposite effect and can lead to data loss, theft, inaccessibility and a fundamental lack of ownership.

SAFE Network: Mobile Tech Preview

As MaidSafe continues its progression in the role out of the network, we have hit another important milestone that we would like to share. We now have SAFE mobile applications, running on Android and iOS, and today we have released some demonstration apps to showcase this progress. iOS requires some code updates and app certification to be ready for user testing and is currently limited to testing via the iOS simulator.

It is important to note that these apps should be considered as a technology preview, a very useful proof point for us that the SAFE Network accommodates mobile devices. This is the culmination of several changes that have been made over the past 9 months, including a new data type and a new access mechanism, in the form of the ‘Authenticator’. In time we will provide mobile developers with the tools and documentation that they would need and want to start developing SAFE mobile apps. In the meantime, please refer to today’s dev update for instructions and requirements for running these apps for yourself.

The Authenticator
The first of these applications is the Authenticator. This is the focus of the imminent alpha 2 release and the mechanism by which users securely access the network, while maintaining control of each SAFE applications access to their data.

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SAFE Messages
The second application is a stripped back and simple mail app. It provides end to end encrypted messaging that uses the public key of the recipient to encrypt the message, ensuring that only the recipient can read its contents.

Alpha 2
The mobile tech preview comes at an exciting time in MaidSafe’s development roadmap, a welcome lead into alpha 2 which we will be releasing next week, on Thursday the 21st of September. This latest alpha will incorporate the Authenticator, a new SAFE Network access mechanism that is network enforced, and as you can see from today’s announcement mobile friendly. We look forward to providing more detail next week.

At MaidSafe, our development approach has been different to many other projects in the space. We have focussed on the hard problems first. This is not a criticism, just recognition of a different approach. Rather than putting out a network that gives little thought to the security of the data on it, or ignores the issue of how it will scale to millions of users, we have prioritised finding solutions to these big questions up front. This may create the appearance that we are moving slower than many of the other larger infrastructure projects in this sector, but in tackling the more challenging issues from the outset, in a methodical and transparent way, we anticipate being well placed to provide the decentralised infrastructure of the future.