Storj Applies Bitcoin To Real World Problems

Ben Ferris , 13 Oct 2014 - BitcoinStorj

It’s no secret that the last few years have been a headache for the security and privacy of web users. Enormous file hosting sites like Megaupload have been shut down. There have been the revelations that government organizations like the NSA have the ability to monitor any user’s Internet activity, and are able to access any files or data that have been put on seemingly “secure” cloud storage hosts. This could make any person wanting to store personal information on the Internet think twice about doing it, with good reason. 

Content which appeared to be private, like explicit photos of more than 100 celebrities, were published online over Labor Day weekend, 2014, in a mass attack dubbed “Celebgate”. The photos were first posted on the forum 4chan and then were circulated on the subreddit r/TheFappening. The photos allegedly came from the victims’ iCloud accounts. Apple said the hack was caused “by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions" and not a breach of its systems. The incident has since sparked a discussion about cloud security.

Almost 5 million usernames and passwords reportedly for Google accounts were uploaded to a Russian online forum by hackers on September 9, 2014. Google first denied that there was any evidence of their systems being accessed but then later confirmed the hack in a blog post of their own. Most users don’t take great care when selecting a password to secure their online accounts. The ongoing use of weak, dictionary-based passwords that are leaving us vulnerable is also highlighted in a blog post from LastPass which takes a look at the reality of our bad password practices with an excellent infographic.

Traditional cloud storage providers have failed miserably when it comes to data failure and security, and this seems to be getting worse with time. These companies try their best, but it’s the model that’s broken. By eliminating central servers and encrypting all content, we start to eliminate these problems. 

Storj is a decentralized cloud storage platform that utilizes blockchain and peer-to-peer technology. It allows users to rent out their excess hard drive space to the network in return for getting paid in cryptocurrency. Files are shredded, encrypted, and spread across the Storj network at a redundancy rate that you set. Combine this with a self-healing network and the possibility of losing a file is extremely minimal.

By participating in Storj, you can sell unused space by renting space out to other cloud users (“renters”) through farming (as a “farmer”). Farmers and renters will use a digital token for payments: Storjcoin X (SJCX) to make the trade effortless, quick, and anonymous. Storjcoin X (SJCX) will have value because they will be backed by a commodity - storage and bandwidth. Storage is a resource that literally every single computer user in the world requires, whether it be cloud based or local. Bandwidth, while not used by everyone (let’s face it though, if you don’t have network access, you’re missing the best part of the computing world), is also a necessity for the majority of computer users. Right now we rely on manufacturers and corporations to provide these resources to us and, though we can set a market price through our demand, there are massive overhead costs we’ll always pay extra for in a centralized model.

Traditional cloud storage providers have costs like employee salaries, server expenses, and heating/cooling systems - among many others. The average person, you and me, would only have electricity costs to cover. This means you and I could offer much lower prices to the network, at whatever price we deem appropriate. Utilizing the hard drive space of your peers is sensible and environmentally friendly, but Storj is ultimately a market driven approach that brings down storage costs for everyone. Gone are the days of buying external storage devices for secure memory space when you can simply redeem some of the tokens you earned when you had plenty of free space.

So at the end of the day users just see an application that is cheaper, faster, and more secure (after the iCloud and Google hacks, not a hard sell) and functions how they expect it to. In essence, don't market the hammer, market the house you built with a hammer. We can remove references to blockchain, cryptocurrency, p2p networks, and honestly who cares? People just want it to drag-drop and work.

Storj just recently received funding, and it may take them a while to get everything polished. They currently have two main apps in beta testing,

Metadisk

  • The web application presents a simple user interface - just drag-and-drop your files to upload. There is no complicated software to download or account to sign up for.

  • MetaDisk is a piece of software, not a company. Don't trust Storj? Run the software yourself. Have full control of your data and get paid for your extra storage space & bandwidth.

DriveShare

  • Once downloaded, this application presents a simple user interface where you can check your current balance and hard drive space statistics. Just one click to earn money.

  • By sharing your hard drive, you become a member of Storj, the next-generation of cloud storage network, where users are always in total control of their data.

Storj conducted a crowdfund with Counterparty on the 18th July 2014. 910BTC were raised, and out of 500 million SJCX, 39 million were distributed to the investors. The remaining 461 million have been split into three different categories of usage.

  • 15% will be allocated to community pools, to recognize reputable members and projects that are voted in by the community.

  • 15% will be used to reimburse start-up costs, pay salaries, and further the future of Storj.

  • The remaining 70% have been allocated to the ecosystem for future farming.

“With the crowd sale, we have a formula where ten to twenty users get DriveShare, which is the hard drive farming allocation. We can test that out on a small network, iron out the bugs and kinks if there are any and move on to 1500 and see how that works.” Derek Urben, Public Relations and Finance of Storj.

As Storj plans the scope of their incremental release, they will be listening closely to what their community has to say. With so much time invested, it is important that the product be what the public have clamoured for.

“We want the users to be happy with what we’re creating. Why would we want to wait months and months and the users get this bug ridden code, when we could fix it then go mainstream and widespread?” Matt Thompson, Writer and Social Media Management of Storj

Storj is a cloud storage platform. The key word in that sentence is platform, without it Storj would just really be a decentralized cloud storage alternative. While a decentralized cloud storage alternative in itself would still be a great product, what they are creating goes beyond that. Storj allows users to create decentralized applications, which we have already begun to see basic demos for such as an image viewer, a .txt and .pdf viewer, a music player, and even a video service - all using the Metadisk API and pulling content from the network. Some of these services have even been thrown into a Storj Media Center of sorts.