Content and data security over the Edge Intelligence P2P network

Peer-to-peer (P2P) networks are the future of content delivery. As the demand for content increases across the world, and from increasingly remote locations, P2P networks, and specifically System73’s Edge Intelligence solution, offers a cost-effective, fast and reliable alternative to traditional content delivery systems that rely on often saturated CDNs.

Whilst concerns surrounding these networks do exist, System73’s priority is, and always has been, ensuring the security of our clients and their content, safeguarding the sharing of resources, authenticating users, and maintaining data integrity and compliance with the GDPR. Piracy and other forms of malicious activity are always easier and less noticeable when conducted over traditional out-of-band management methods than as part of an Edge Intelligence P2P network. Ultimately, System73’s Edge Intelligence solution does not increase the probability of content piracy, but the probability of this kind of activity being detected and shut down, is greatly increased thanks to System73’s Edge Analytics solution.

This article explores how System73 helps to enhance security, observability and the protection of client content and data in an Edge Intelligence P2P network. 

Client authentication

One critical consideration involves implementing encryption protocols to protect data during transmission, preventing unauthorized access and maintaining the confidentiality of shared resources. User authentication mechanisms, such as authentication keys, play a pivotal role in verifying the identity of our clients and controlling access to their unique content delivery network. This key validates the client’s integration authorization and thus their access to System73 services, and deems them as eligible to participate in our optimization operations, which includes requests from our servers to establish P2P connections. Any entity attempting to participate in the network that does not have this valid authentication key, is completely barred from entry.

The WebRTC protocol

Once an Edge Intelligence P2P network has been established, each connection is made following the Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) protocol. This is also the technology used for video conferencing over services such as Google Meet and Zoom. System73 applies the same privacy and security policies as those outlined by the WebRTC standard, specifically the Interactive Connectivity Establishment protocol (ICE) defined via the RFC 8445. 

More specifically, the data transfer occurs over WebRTC Data Channels, and all WebRTC transfers are encrypted using DTLS. Given that WebRTC enables P2P connections between two end users, the data will never travel through the web or application server, which mitigates any chances of interception and malicious activity. 

Edge Analytics and GDPR compliance

System73 helps clients detect potentially malicious activity in the network by providing them with extra visibility in the form of Edge Analytics. On top of the surveillance power provided by CDNs’ traditional tools for content protection and monitoring, Edge Analytics enriches and completes any observability and surveillance opportunities already in the client’s possession. 

All mechanisms used by System73 to identify end user devices (Version 4 UUIDs for session IDs and device IDs), are random, ephemeral and compliant with European GDPR regulations. As such, these mechanisms do not collect or display personal information. However,

content providers’ subscriber data does. Therefore, in the event that malicious activity is suspected, content providers are able to map session and device IDs over their subscriber data to find the source of piracy attempts and/or malicious actors, and shut them down.

The Edge Intelligence infrastructure

If a potentially malicious end user is looking to intercept data being shared across an Edge Intelligence P2P network, and that malicious end user’s device is a node within a P2P network, they will need to overcome at least two major barriers. First, they must acquire and apply the highly technical expertise needed to leverage a P2P connection through System73, while remaining undetected inside the network (see previous paragraph for more on detection using Edge Analytics).

The second hurdle would be accessing the System73 SDK and modifying it to avoid a) the real-time telemetry that reports their session and download activity, and b) detection and shutdown. The System73 SDK allows Edge Intelligence to fully optimize the content delivery network whilst maintaining and supporting current and existing protection mechanisms offered, for example, by CDNs and the WebRTC protocol.

This optimization process involves reorganizing the Edge Intelligence P2P tree proactively from our backend systems to ensure that all nodes are able to share what they can while maintaining plenty of margin. Nodes are never overloaded, exploited, or required to share more than they are capable of sharing.

In short, System73’s Edge Intelligence solution does not increase the probability of content piracy, but the probability of this kind of activity being detected and shut down, is greatly increased thanks to System73’s Edge Analytics solution. 

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