Dirk Kutscher

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Data-oriented, Decentralized, Daring: Opportunities and Research Challenges for an Information-Centric Web

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Research and development in ICN has led to different communication patterns such as Sync and API implementations such as CNL. It is now time to think about how to leverage Information-Centric principles for providing better foundations for hypermedia applications in the future web. At NDNComm-2024 I talked about how ICN could possibly help, what could be fruitful future research directions, and why web3 and dweb are not the answer.

Material

Presentation

Written by dkutscher

March 7th, 2024 at 7:05 am

Posted in Publications,Talks

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Content Retrieval on the Decentralised Web

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Trends and Emerging Technologies for Content Retrieval on the Decentralized Web

The control, governance, and management of the web have become increasingly centralised, resulting in security, privacy, and censorship concerns. Decentralised initiatives have emerged to address these issues, beginning with decentralised file systems. These systems have gained popularity, with major platforms serving millions of content requests daily. Complementing the file systems are decentralised search engines and name registry infrastructures, together forming the basis of a decentralised web. We have published a survey paper that analyses research trends and emerging technologies for content retrieval on the decentralised web, encompassing both academic literature and industrial projects.

Challenges

Several challenges hinder the realisation of a fully decentralised web. Achieving comparable performance to centralised systems without compromising decentralisation is a key challenge. Hybrid infrastructures, blending centralised components with verifiability mechanisms, show promise to improve decentralised initiatives. While decentralised file systems have seen more mature deployments, they still face challenges such as usability, performance, privacy, and content moderation. Integrating these systems with decentralised name-registries offers a potential for improved usability with human-readable and persistent names for content. Further research is needed to address security concerns in decentralised name-registries and enhance governance and crypto-economic incentive mechanisms.

References

Navin V. Keizer, Onur Ascigil, Michał Król, Dirk Kutscher, and George Pavlou; A Survey on Content Retrieval on the Decentralised Web; ACM Computing Surveys; March 2024; https://doi.org/10.1145/3649132

Written by dkutscher

March 7th, 2024 at 6:51 am

Posted in Publications

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Unlocking REST with Information-Centric Networking

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Web applications today utilize the Representational State Transfer (REST) architecture pattern, depending on HTTP, TLS, and either TCP or QUIC as the protocol substrate to build upon. The resulting protocol stacks can be quite complex, and the RESTful communication is locked into channel-like connections of the respective transport protocol.

Given that most web applications are concerned with transferring named units of data (web resources, video chunks etc.), we asked ourselves: can the REST paradigm be married with the data-oriented, receiver-driven operation of Information-Centric Networking (ICN), leveraging attractive ICN benefits such as consumer anonymity, stateful and symmetric forwarding, flow-balance in-network caching, and implicit object security?

We argue that this is feasible given some of the recent advances in ICN protocol development and that the resulting suite is simpler and potentially having better performance and robustness properties. Our sketch of an ICN based protocol framework addresses secure and efficient establishment and continuation of REST communication sessions, without giving up key ICN properties, such as consumer anonymity and flow balance.

Representational State Transfer in the Web Today

The Web today is based on an extended version of the Representational State Transfer (REST) architecture pattern for client-server interaction. This simple model has been extended and applied to HTTP for web applications by supporting not only retrieval, but also creation, processing, and deletion of data. Real-world REST systems employ additional concepts and mechanisms such as security and privacy, support for application sessions, and have various optimizations to eliminate unnecessary round-trips.

REST and ICN

Since nearly all web applications today are based on the RESTful client-server communication model, the question then occurs how such interactions can be achieved in ICN, i.e., secure and confidential RESTful access to web resources, with support for efficient handling of a sequence of interactions in a session-like context.

The applicability of ICN's Interest/Data interaction to modern web applications that provide a significant amount of data in requests headers for cookies and other request parameters has been assessed by Moiseenko et al., concluding that it is not immediately clear how to use ICN effectively for web communication. We have also argued in our earlier RICE paper on Remote Method Invocation in ICN that the basic Interest/Data exchange model of CCNx/NDN-style ICN is not sufficient and that certain use cases (e.g., sending resource representations or request parameters from a client to a server) should not be implemented by overloading the Interest message.

In draft-oran-icnrg-reflexive-forwarding, we have discussed the specific problems extensively. In its default mode, ICN also lacks name privacy, which we consider essential for any real-world application of ICN to web services. However, various techniques have been developed to improve name privacy in ICN, such as the onion routing approach in ANDaNA (Anonymous Named Data Networking Application).

In our vision paper on RESTful Information-Centric Networking at [ACM ICN-2022 (https://conferences2.sigcomm.org/acm-icn/2022/), we argue that an ICN-based RESTful programming model that overcomes these limitations is feasible given some of the recent advances in ICN protocol development and provide the outline of the corresponding protocol framework.

HTTP has been extended and partially redesigned over time, and provides its own idiosyncratic conventions and mechanisms, e.g., which request-relevant information to represent in the URI vs. message headers vs. message bodies. The goal of this work is not to simply map current HTTP mechanisms to ICN, but rather to provide an ICN-idiomatic platform for RESTful applications including an Information-Centric web.

Any ICN web platform will only be useful and relevant if it provides equivalent (or better) security and privacy properties as the state-of-art, i.e., HTTP3 over QUIC and TLS 1.3, so our proposed framework provides a TLS-like security context for RESTful communication (sessions). Also, RESTful ICN should not compromise on existing ICN benefits such as consumer anonymity and consumer mobility.

Our technical design integrates CCNx Key Exchange (a TLS-1.3-like key exchang protocol for ICN) and our Reflexive Forwarding scheme for ICN, and uses that for providing symmetric key derivation and efficient RESTful communication and session resumption in an ICN-idiomatic way. Please check out our paper for details.

References

Written by dkutscher

September 16th, 2022 at 6:41 am

Posted in Publications

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