Swarm is an Ethereum (ETH) decentralized storage layer designed by Daniel Nagy after a 7-year legal fight over hosting a file sharing node. A precursor to the peer-to-peer file sharing service, Nagy was testing a DC node.
After winning the fight, Nagy, who is known for launching the Hungarian extension of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, decided to link up with the Ethereum Foundation. That was where he got inspired to critically look into the censorship-resistant technology.
Particularly, the developer’s experience during the legal process actually helps push his work on Swarm. Swarm is a highly anticipated Ethereum storage layer that focuses on privacy-preserving cryptography and architecture.
Swarm Makes Decentralized Storage More Robust Than Ever
Swarm allows Nagy to fixate on how to create decentralized storage that is robust enough to avoid any sort of legal repercussions in what he calls “an arms race” between regulators and developers. Swarm is designed to provide a foundation for Blockchain to let go of several of its historical data and ensure that file storage is handled more efficiently.
With more emphasis on “efficiency, confidentiality, speed, and security,” a decentralized storage-layer is designed with the goal of rendering the cost of an attack inefficient so that the legal system is pushed to update itself as a response.
Swarm is intended to offer a base infrastructure for a completely decentralized internet. It splits data up between computers of multiple network participants. To protect the layer from censorship (something that Nagy defines as taking data out of circulation) complete decentralization and privacy are paramount. While it is possible to store data in a transparent way using Swarm, much of Nagy’s work focuses on how to make sure sensitive information stays private, even when stored on another person’s computer.
To achieve this, Swarm uses the “counter mode” encryption. For example, if there’s a dispute, the counter mode protocol shares a little piece of encrypted information that ownership can be verified without having to reveal any other information. Hence, in order to access any information stored remotely, Swarm utilizes public and private key pairs. This is why participants will host chunks encrypted data on their laptops, although, in most jurisdictions, they can do this with a level of plausible deniability. This means that, because Swarm’s nodes do not hold the keys to open data, they won’t be an issue of being at risk of legal trouble.
According to Nagy, this is important because an attack-resistant storage is paramount to healthy societies.
The storage protocol is now in public alpha. This means that while it is still under heavy development, anyone can open a Swarm node. Additionally, the Swarm protocol will provide incentives in Ether tokens for all participants in the network. Although this aspect is still in the fine-tuning stage.
Swarm encryption has been set up to be smart contract friendly in order to make sure dApp developers seamlessly integrate the technology. This is because while it is primarily intended to store up smart contract data and other blockchain information in a decentralized way, there are more use cases for Swarm on the horizon.