A small team of developers has created a secure, decentralised, peer-to-peer network, which some scientists claim will "revolutionise" the Internet.
Following eight years of development, Scottish company MaidSafe is on the brink of public beta testing for a network that offers a "paradigm change" in encryption and data storage systems, effectively eliminating the need for terms like 'back-up', 'virus' and 'synchronise'.
It is not the first time developers have claimed to offer a decentralised Internet. Most recently, a project called Bitcloud announced that it was creating a "new mesh network to replace the internet".
However, MaidSafe claims to be one step ahead of the rest. Founder David Irvine has touted the network as a "world first" in the way it "creates security by logic and mathematics."
Without the need for additional infrastructure, the network is also able to operate autonomously without relying on intermediaries.
"Some of these projects are currently trying to add components that bend them into the shape of a decentralised Internet but these were not what they were designed for," a spokesperson for MaidSafe told ITProPortal.
"As a result, many of these projects require significant set up and only work on certain platforms."
Professor Bimal Kumar from the School of Engineering and Built Environment at Glasgow Caledonian University believes that the technology MaidSafe has developed sets it apart from similar projects.
"To my knowledge, this technology should revolutionise the way data is managed, optimizing security, data validation and storage space requirements beyond any solution currently available in the industry," Kumar said.
Promisingly, the system is able to operate with as few as 60 users on the network, who are able to connect from any mobile computing device in the world without even needing to be online.
It works by each individual user contributing a small portion of their computing capacity to what is effectively a global, public cloud. Information is stored in a disassembled form across numerous devices, thus ensuring that user's private information is protected from the snooping of governments, corporations and untrusted third party servers, as well as from accidental deletion, theft or drive failure.
"This revolutionary technology provides a highly scalable, secure data storage and access solution which avoids network bottlenecks and central points of failure," said Dr Mario Kolberf, a senior lecturer in computing science at the University of Stirling. "It will fundamentally change the way we think about storing data."
In developing the network, MaidSafe drew on inspiration from ant colonies, neural networks and cell division to better understand how to optimise an open and decentralised system.
One obvious comparison to the way the system operates is that of Bitcoin, the decentralised digital currency that has achieved considerable success in recent years. In this regard, MaidSafe claims that its network "will do for data what Bitcoin does for trade."