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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. 

4 COMMENTS
Rick
3 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?

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