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Centralized vs Decentralized Network: What’s Better For Your Security?

With each day, the control over the Internet and the users’ data passes to big corporations’ hands. Thus, at these times, when our cybersecurity is at risk, we need a system that would guarantee us the highest level of protection possible. We do have alternatives to consider: centralized and decentralized networks. Let’s make the issue loud and simple and find out what’s better for your security. 

What is a centralized network?

The centralized network is the type of network architecture that is built around one central server where the data processed before being distributed to other computers. For instance, your Facebook or Twitter account, YouTube channel, and so on belong to a centralized network type. So each time you use them, all (!) your data is going through their servers, where it’s being verified. 

Thus, each time you send your photos or make a video call to your partner, this info goes to some central servers. Imagine how much data about you gathers your email provider taking into account that you provided it with your name, address, and other identifying info during the account registration. So you have to trust this provider with your data and hope that it will remain private. As you know, data security doesn’t always presuppose privacy. Read more about it: Data privacy vs. Data protection.

Centralized definition scheme

Pros 

  • Stability: Facilitated control over the network enables its stable work;
  • Efficiency: Only one central server that controls the whole network. It means less time to manage it and fewer admins. Plus, all data passes through one place. It allows tracking and collecting data across the network.

 Cons

  • No guarantees: You have to take it on trust that this or that service/app will keep your data safe and private; 
  • You can’t control your data usage: They have full control over the whole network and your data. If they want to sell it to other data-brokers or disclose to a court, you won’t stop them;
  • Data is at risk: Due to the single point of failure, in case the main servers are compromised, data is at risk. For instance, such a case happened to Yahoo a couple of years ago when the data of 200 million users were presented for sale on the darknet — it’s so easy to hack one server instead of several. 

What happened to the original principles of the WWW — creation of a universal network that everyone could use for the benefit of mankind? Altruism basically dried up during the first bubble of the dot-com era, when people realized that value could be easily created on this neutral basis by building centralized services through which information could be collected, stored, and sold.

Search services, social networks, and messengers were able to achieve such success due to the centralization of services on the Internet.

Fortunately, a trend towards getting back to basics is now developing. A “decentralized network,” or Web 3.0 appeared.

What is a decentralized network?

A decentralized network is the type of network architecture that distributes workloads among several servers (nodes), instead of relying on a single server. Such a peer-to-peer network is built on a community of users where each of the users is both a host and a server. 

Such type of network doesn’t presuppose the absence of a single point of failure, which provides a higher security level. To hack the data, culprits need to take control of all the peers, which is simply impossible. 

Decentralized network scheme

Pros 

  • Confidentiality: Here, greater attention is paid to the immunity of personal data. Data is distributed throughout the network, and encryption technologies are used to limit access to them. Access to data is controlled exclusively by the network algorithm, in contrast to more centralized networks, the owner of which usually has access to all the data and can affect customer profiles and advertising targeting.
The difference between centralized and decentralized

Let’s drive into some reasons why online privacy matters because decentralized networks are developed under these purposes.

  • Data portability: In a decentralized system, users remain owners of their data and can decide for themselves with whom to share it. Moreover, users retain control over the data when switching from one service provider to another (if the service has a concept of a provider at all). 
  • Security: We live in a world in which the number of threats to our online security is growing. In a centralized system, the more valuable the information is, the more attractive it is to scammers and criminals. The nature of decentralized platforms makes them more resistant to hacking, interception, theft, and other threats since they were created to work under the control of all its participants.

That’s why decentralized networks are used in the sphere of payments and messaging — No third party can access your information, the transactions are quick and cheap, info exchange is secure.

Cons

  • Decentralized networks are slower: sometimes, the lack of consensus between peers, or rather the effort required to reach it, not only slows down the decision-making process but removes focus from essential objectives as well;
  • They are not so stable: decentralized networks use more machines. It means more maintenance and various potential problems. Moreover, they have a huge additional burden on the IT resources., which in turn means an additional burden on your IT resources.

Centralized vs. decentralized network: The bottom line

As you see, both types of networks possess their pros and cons. But in terms of security and privacy, decentralized networks are getting much ahead. Thus, next time you will download an application on your gadget, pay attention to whether there is a decentralized network before providing your personal information. Thus, the control over your data security will be in your hands. 

30 COMMENTS
Rick
6 months ago

Wow! I didn’t know there was an alternative to a centralized network. Could you list some other examples of decentralization like Utopia, please?

Matthew Turner
7 months ago

Good afternoon, Rick! We were also surprised when we found a real alternative to a centralized network. Did you use TOR Network? Until recently, it was almost the only decentralized system built on blockchain technology. But now, the first place takes Utopia since it includes built-in messenger, browser, email, wallet, etc.

Simon
5 months ago

Quite interesting and well-written article. For a long time, I’ve been using only a decentralized network. It has more perks in comparison with a centralized one. Surfing the net, I’ve found the concept of a distributed system. Have you heard anything about it? Is there any difference between distributed vs decentralized networks?

Matthew Turner
5 months ago

Good afternoon, Simon! Thank you for your feedback:) A decentralized system is a subset of a distributed system. The primary difference is how/where the “decision” is made and how the information is shared throughout the control nodes in the network. So, Decentralized means that there is no single point where the decision is made. When distributed means that the processing is shared across multiple nodes. However, the decisions may still be centralized and use complete system knowledge.

David
4 months ago

Telling the truth, I’ve hardly noticed any difference between centralized vs decentralized system. As for me, these are almost identical systems. But maybe, a decentralized is safer than centralized.

Matthew Turner
4 months ago

Good afternoon, David! You are partly right. The main difference between centralized vs decentralized is the issue of security. In the article, we’ve listed other perks of a decentralized system.

Emre Gürses
2 months ago

Hello to everyone. I would like to consult you on a topic. How did the decentralized design of the Internet develop between the 1970s and today? I have a hard time finding resources on this subject .. how can I reach you ?

Matthew Turner
2 months ago

Good afternoon, Emre! Thank you for your question. Our team is working on the security problem of today’s Internet. We are experts in decentralization 2020. However, we are sure that you can find all the necessary information on the Internet.

Brain
2 months ago

I rather doubt that a centralized system is so bad. After all, the decentralized system was designed based on a centralized one. Most likely, you forgot to identify an advantage of centralized processing. I speak about greater efficiency than decentralized networks.

Matthew Turner
2 months ago

Hello, Brain! Thank you for your opinion. But let us remind you that in a centralized network, all data passes through a single central server. And such a server is an attractive target for hackers because everything on the network is stored in it. In this case, we lose all the security that is necessary when using the Internet.

Till
2 months ago

I’m all for the author of the article on the issue of a decentralized network, although it is really slower system than a centralized one. Faster doesn’t mean better or safer. That’s why: “Better safe than sorry!”

Matthew Turner
2 months ago

Good afternoon, Till! Thank you for your support and good proverb. We will definitely remember it for future articles. Since it perfectly reflects the essence of the advantages of a decentralized network from a centralized one.

Hill
2 months ago

Hi! In your article, you have paid attention to 2 main disadvantages of decentralization: it is slower than a centralized one, and it is not so stable. So, is Internet protection worth sacrificing speed and stability? Because this is one of the key rules of the system’s work.

Matthew Turner
2 months ago

Good afternoon, Hill! You are right, in our article we have identified two main disadvantages of the decentralized system. While in return, we have listed several impressive advantages such as confidentiality, security, and data portability. We believe that in this issue, everyone decides what is more important for him, the speed and stability of work, or the protection of the entire work process.

Sally
1 month ago

Why didn’t you mention blockchain governance of decentralization in your article? After all, the blockchain makes the system more secure and protected.

Matthew Turner
1 month ago

Hello, Sally! The main point of our article is to show the difference between decentralized vs centralized networks. We didn’t speak about blockchain aside. In the next article, we will touch the topic of blockchain governance and its connection with decentralization.

Nataly
1 month ago

Finally, we live in the age of decentralized computing network. But, nobody implements this into online life. I don’t really understand why? There are so many big pluses to start doing this. The main point for me is protection from third parties, which can gain my personal data.

Matthew Turner
1 month ago

Good afternoon, Nataly! Thank you for your support in the field of decentralization. We believe that soon, each user, family, corporation, and agency will use only decentralized network instead of centralized one.

Fin
1 month ago

To be honest, I don’t quite understand this toing and froing associated with centralize and decentralize networks. As for me, it rather clear that people can not transfer important and confidential files within the network. Today’s Internet is aimed at daily chatting with friends, and that’s all.

Matthew Turner
1 month ago

Hello, Fin! Thank you for your feedback! Our team has repeatedly encountered a similar opinion about privacy and security on the net. Don’t forget that we live in a technological world where 80% of the work occurs on the Internet. Therefore, it is impossible to avoid transmitting confidential information. However, you can try to protect your data. For example, you can try to use Utopia P2P.

Joe
1 month ago

Hah! I’m a fan of your art! Your pictures show people that the outdated technologies and methods of protection are no longer used for security. Such a good method:)

Matthew Turner
1 month ago

Hello, Joe! Thanks a lot. Our designers always come up with a creative approach to paint each art for an article. We are glad that you like each of them:)

Joe
4 weeks ago

Can I help you in the creating process of art? I can make the visual side of the fan site, for instance:)

Matthew Turner
4 weeks ago

Cool idea, Joe! Please contact us via support portal support.u.is

Joe
4 weeks ago

Thanks a lot:)

Li
4 weeks ago

Thank you for the well-written article. I didn’t know anything about Web 3.0 at all. It seems that this approach to working and storing data is still better than the one we have habitually used for decades. Unfortunately, our favorite and lovely WWW system is outdated.

Matthew Turner
4 weeks ago

Good afternoon, Li! Thanks to the technological trend of 2020, we can use an up-to-date decentralized system instead of the old one. For instance, Utopia has used the following data storage approach: there is no single server where all data is stored. Each user is a peer – he is both a client and a server at the same time. Such a method allows protecting the data from third parties, and the risk of data leakage is minimal.

Freddy
4 weeks ago

You’ve said about the most popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube based on a centralized architecture. But what about other websites, for purchase, for instance? Can you show how centralization works?

Matthew Turner
4 weeks ago

Good afternoon, Freddy! Yes, sure. We can take into account the popular Amazon website. It is built on the centralization. As a result, there are many cases of hackers attacks on Amazon and its clients. But if we imagine that Amazon has been built on the principles of decentralization, then the risk of information leakage would be zero.

Kerry
4 weeks ago

Don’t give anyone your personal info and stay anonymous! – A motto that everyone should learn by heart! I’ve never supported the radical measures against various information structures. However, any patience comes to an end. This article changed my mind about this issue. Thanks a lot. I’ll take the issue of Internet security more seriously.

Matthew Turner
4 weeks ago

Good afternoon, Kerry! Thank you for your support. Every member of our fan site community has faced with the same thoughts. Now, we share different ideas, thoughts, and approaches to ensure privacy within the Internet.

Valley
4 weeks ago

Wow, centralizing is a kind of dangerous thing in the field of Internet protection. I’ve never thought that there is any difference between the systems’ foundation we use to access the Internet.

Matthew Turner
4 weeks ago

Hello, Valley! The basic foundation that has been used to develop any Internet system is the main part of the process. The choice of the basic foundation determines what the system will look like in the end: its technical characteristics, functionality, and the degree of security.

Dimon
3 weeks ago

It’s a pretty cool article! Thanks a lot. You’ve listed not only the pros of each network but highlighted the main cons. Such a division helps to show the advantages and disadvantages of each network. As for me, I’ve chosen a decentralized network. Its perks are more suitable for me, despite two slight drawbacks.

Matthew Turner
3 weeks ago

Good evening, Dimon! Thank you for your support! It’s nice to hear that you’ve made the right choice. And this choice is based on the listed arguments. We hope that Utopia will do everything possible to protect your data.

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