Taiwanese researchers present IOTA-based alternative to BitTorrent

  • Taiwanese researchers from the National Kaohsiung University have presented an IOTA-based alternative to BitTorrent in a paper.
  • IOTA-BT is designed to provide higher security, availability and support for better public access.

Three researchers from the National Kaohsiung University in Taiwan have presented a paper proposing a technically improved version of the world’s most popular peer-to-peer file sharing platform BitTorrent using the IOTA Tangle. In the research paper entitled “IOTA-BT: A P2P File-Sharing System Based on IOTA”, electrical engineering department researchers Li-Yuan Hou, Tsung-Yi Tang and Tyng-Yeu Liang describe that BitTorrent carries the risk of a single point of failure and the danger of cyberattacks such as Sybil and Eclipses.

The background is that BitTorrent “relies mainly on either a central tracker or a distributed hash table (DHT) to locate the file seeder”. To address this problem, the researchers propose a peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing system called IOTA-BT, which integrates BitTorrent with IOTA. Regarding their choice of the IOTA Tangle, the researchers state:

The advantages of IOTA over blockchain includescalability for high throughput, compatibility with Internet of Things (IoT) footprints, zero transactionfees, partition-tolerant, and quantum-resistant cryptography. The autopeering and neighbor selectionof the Coordicide of IOTA is aimed at defending a Sybil or Eclipse attack. IOTA-BT inherits theseadvantages from IOTA.

Researchers integrate IOTA into the BitTorrent framework

Specifically, the researchers have developed an IOTA-based BitTorrent system that allows the original BitTorrent framework to be executed on IOTA’s mainnet. This creates a P2P file sharing service that, according to the paper, supports higher security, availability and public access.

To evaluate the performance of IOTA-BT on the public IOTA Tangle, the researchers set up three IRI nodes in Tokyo, London and Los Angeles using virtual machines from the Google Cloud platform, as well as an IRI node in the university lab. According to the study, the test results show “that the client needs only 6~8 s to release a seed file in IOTA mainnet”.

Furthermore, other clients can retrieve the details of the seed file via any IOTA mainnet node within a second. In addition, further performance improvements have been achieved over the original BitTorrent, as the research article states:

Besides, a node takes only 1.4 and 0.7 s to register its heartbeat and obtain the peer list,respectively. It is almost negligible for users because the time interval of issuing a heartbeat in the BTnetwork is 10 min. […]

On the other hand, the experiment result also shows that IOTA-BT can indeed effectively reduce the number of unnecessary transaction searches and decoding. Finally, the efficiency of IOTA-BT is indeed acceptable for P2P file sharing. IOTA-BT can indeed efficiently provide users with a P2P file sharing environment with increased security.

Looking ahead, the paper goes on to state that IOTA is ready to move to version 2.0 in order to “achieve true decentralization, abolish the PoW mechanism, and realize smart contracts with more application value.”. The researchers plan to use IOTA 2.0’s smart contracts once the upgrade is released, to expand IOTA-BT into a P2P file trading system in the future:

We will exploit IOTA 2.0 smart contracts to make IOTA-BT evolve into aP2P file trading system in the future. Additionally, service discovery is a critical issue for fog computing.Since the resources of fog computing are distributed to different network levels or organizations,a central service discovery mechanism is not practical and realistic. We will develop a distributed andpublic service discovery mechanism for fog computing by referencing the framework of IOTA-BT.

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