IPFS leader explains how malicious files are removed from his network

Decentralised ecosystems still need a way to deal with malicious files.

The Interplanetary File System, or IPFS, helps decentralize the Internet by making files available in multiple locations rather than through a single centralized point of failure. However, what happens if someone reports a problematic IPFS file? Dietrich Ayala, leader of the IPFS ecosystem, explained the process:

„Let’s say there is a URL, or an IPFS content ID as we call them, there is an IPFS address that we have identified as malicious or dangerous in some way,“ Ayala told Cointelegraph.

If this kind of problem were to occur on the standard centralized Internet, the URL would probably be blacklisted and ultimately made inaccessible by the server that hosts the relative files on the site. Google, in collaboration with other Internet actors, keeps a list of malicious or malware-infected URLs and files. However, adding items to that list often proves to be very difficult, due to false negatives and other problems, Ayala explained. „There are a number of problems with the centralised control of that list,“ he explained.

He believes that the Mastodon open source social networking platform like Bitcoin Revolution exhibits a possible solution to this problem. „Mastodon is an example where node operators have decided how they want to filter out information that they think is incorrect, bad or dangerous to people walking around in a certain, what they call a pub,“ Ayala explained.

In short, Mastodon divides management into smaller segmented bits, thus eliminating centralized control while allowing for granular areas of focused consensus.

„I think we will see that same style of filtering in IPFS nodes or through pubsub, where the nodes want to communicate, coordinate and share information about bad addresses,“ said Ayala. The word ‚bad‘ can also be subjective, however, it depends on a number of factors, including various region-specific regulations, he added.

Ayala mentioned coordinated blocking lists and safe lists as methods for dealing with malicious URLs on the IPFS network. „We have a group in Protocol Labs that is with some people from Medium and other media entities that have a long history of working in this area around content filtering and identifying malicious or unsafe content,“ Ayala explained. IPFS has a specialized unit to help node operators maintain the control they need, while keeping up with the growth of the technology, he added.

„It’s a really difficult problem, and I think we can see the challenge in today’s centralized systems, as they are trying to figure out the best way to moderate content,“ Ayala said.

Youtubers who talk about cryptosystems in particular have seen the downside of centralisation this 2020. Many of the major influencers in crypto space have been banned from the platform on several occasions.