The centralized internet isn’t cutting it anymore, claims Andrey Yushkevich, the creator of Blockchain Router. His product, which was unveiled at CES 2020 last week, is a little black box that uses the blockchain to provide decentralized, peer-to-peer access to websites hosted on the InterPlanetary File System, a popular protocol for file-sharing and hosting.
Think of IFPS as BitTorrent, but for the entire Internet, the 33-year-old Brooklyn, New York-based creator of Blockchain Router told Decrypt. Instead of downloading, say, information from The Pirate Bay’s server, you’d download the site from a peer to peer network that’s distributed across thousands of computers. That means the website is nearly impossible to shut down.
“This site is therefore accessible anywhere in the world in an uncensorable and unblockable manner,” said Yushkevich.
IPFS isn’t new—it’s possible to access it through browser extensions—but it’s gnarly for non-technical people to use. Yushkevich’s router, created with a team of five security experts, is a plug-n-play solution, and—if it raises the seed money it’s looking for on Kickstarter—would cost $199 upon release, which Yushkevich estimates could be as soon as September.
The Blockchain Router functions as a normal router does, but accesses the decentralized web when the user enters a URL ending in “.eth”. Then the router, which comes with an Ethereum node installed, uses the Ethereum blockchain—specifically, the Ethereum Name Service—to shorten links to websites hosted on IPFS.
For instance, the website for Elon Musk’s SpaceX project is hosted on IPFS. So when you type in SpaceX.eth, Blockchain Router will decode it into a 32-byte link, look up the website on a blockchain, verify it, and download the site, piece by piece, from a bunch of nodes in the network.
Yushkevich said the technology can also be used to protect IoT devices on a decentralized network, as well as a decentralized VPN. Using a physical router instead of browser extensions also adds an extra layer of security, said Yushkevich, since it’s harder for hackers to get at it.
Yushkevich said the product’s future depends on the success of its kickstarter. The team is looking for around $120,000 in funding. The kickstarter’s been live for twenty days, and the project’s amassed around $3,400 so far. The team has 38 days until the kickstarter ends. Yushkevich said he’s hoping venture capitalists he’s met at CES will fund the project.