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Brave wants to retire HTTP and create a decentralized web with IPFS protocol


The Brave browser, known for blocking ads and crawlers, announced last week that it wants to create a decentralized web, more democratic and difficult to censor with an end-to-end (P2P) InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) network protocol.

Brave, is a browser based on Chromium, Google Chrome’s open source project and like all current most popular browsers, it works with the HTTP (S) protocol. However, Brian Bondy, CTO and co-founder of Brave Software, the company that maintains the browser, explains that the team has been working on implementing IPFS since 2018 and version 1.19 of the browser already has support for the new technology.

The executive explains that the new technology is exciting and has many advantages when compared to the traditional protocol, since previously accessed content can be viewed offline, in addition to helping publishers and content creators distribute content without high bandwidth costs.

“There are performance advantages to uploading content over IPFS, [o novo protocolo] it’s important for blockchain and for self-described data integrity. The previously viewed content can even be accessed offline with IPFS! The IPFS network gives access to content even if it has been censored by corporations and nation states, such as parts of Wikipedia, ”says Bondy.

How it works

Unlike HTTPS, where there is a specific content storage location, the IPFS protocol works on the same principle as torrents and allows users to download content using a “content hash”. That is, each user represents a node on the IPFS network and if one of the nodes is not online, offering this content, the system searches for other sources.

Another advantage is that content hosted with this system becomes more difficult to be censored by authoritarian governments. “HTTP (S) uses Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) to specify the location of the content. This system can be easily censored, as the content is hosted in specific locations on behalf of a single entity and is susceptible to denial of service (DDoS) attacks. IPFS identifies its content by content paths within the Uniform Resource Identifier (URIs), but not by URLs ”, explains the executive.

The addresses of sites with IPFS, however, are very different from traditional HTTPS. Instead of starting with “http (s): //” they start with “ipfs: //”.

Here’s an example:

ipfs: //bafybeiemxf5abjwjbikoz4mc3a3dla6ual3jsgpdr4cjr3oz3evfyavhwq/wiki/Vincent_van_Gogh.html

Security and Blockchain

Brave is the first browser to be natively compatible with the IPFS protocol and although the technology is still very new, it may be able to retire traditional protocols, in addition to create a decentralized web, which to many people seems like a science fiction movie.

According to Bondy, IPFS also benefits from security and privacy, but it depends on how the browser will be configured. “If Brave is configured to use a local IPFS node, when accessing IPFS content, it also makes it a temporary host for that content. On the other hand, if Brave is configured to use a public IPFS gateway, the privacy risks will be different. For example, this gateway can see the content that a user is asking to upload via IPFS requests. The gateway can also lie about the content that is serving the user ”, he explains.

Still according to the executive, IPFS, like other decentralized protocols, is important for blockchains and contracts that operate on decentralized networks.

The version 1.19 of the browser, with support for the IPFS protocol, is already available on the developer’s website, to use it, just type ‘ipfs: //’ at the beginning of the URL, or install the full IPFS option, which causes the browser to become a node in the end-to-end decentralized network.

Sources: Brave; The Verge.

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