Building a Better Internet
Amid heightened concerns over the Internet's continued vulnerability to failure or attack, the National Science Foundation is expected to announce Wednesday that it has enlisted five university computer science departments to develop a secure, decentralized Internet infrastructure.
The joint project, dubbed Infrastructure for Resilient Internet Systems, or IRIS, aims to use distributed hash table technology, also known as DHT, to develop a common infrastructure for distributed applications.
DHT is like having a file cabinet distributed over numerous servers, explained Frans Kaashoek, a professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an IRIS project head. So if one server goes down, not all of the data is compromised.
Another challenge, according to Kaashoek, is creating a software interface to access the system.
The researchers hope that they can create a robust, distributed network that could essentially act as a secure storage system for the Internet. Governments, institutions, and businesses worldwide could theoretically choose to place their data in the secure system, which would minimize the effects of outage or attack.
The project comes amid
The National Science Foundation launched the project with a $12 million research award to MIT, the University of California at Berkeley, the International Computer Science Institute, New York University, and Rice University in Houston. The award is spread over five years, and at the end of that time period, the research team hopes to have a system in place, Kaashoek said.
"Clearly, people are interested in building much more robust systems, so our goal is exciting," Kaashoek said.
"But what is really exciting is that if we succeed, we could change the world," he added.