Today we are announcing two portals for Skynet: skynetfree and skynetpro. This is in addition to siasky, our original portal, which will continue running as best as we can keep it alive.
The key factors that distinguish each are:
- Siasky: open access. Anyone can upload or download without an account
- Skynetfree: free to use, but an account is required
- Skynetpro: requires a monthly subscription paid by credit card
Anyone who previously had an account on siasky have since had that account migrated to skynetfree or skynetpro, depending on whether or not they were a paying user. Additionally, skynetfree and skynetpro share an accounts database: a skynetfree user can upgrade to a paid tier at any point, and their account will automatically shift to skynetpro.
The major benefit of segregating the portals based on the user type is that we can provide better service quality to all users. The open-access platform has essentially unlimited demand, which means even if we implement strict rate-limiting, paying users have to deal with overloaded servers and have to fight for resources.
But there’s another issue, which is why we didn’t just separate the server clusters, we also separated the domain names: abuse. Skynet is one of the easiest ways to share files in the world. Many users find it easier than DropBox, easier than WeTransfer, and easier than Bittorrent. Skynet is also one of the easiest ways in the world to deploy a fully functioning web application.
The former makes Skynet attractive for activities such as malware distribution, child porn distribution, and even the distribution of terrorist propaganda. And the latter makes Skynet an exceptional resource in deploying phishing attacks. Though we do our best to remove malicious content immediately, siasky has been banned by ISPs, blocked by Twitter, flagged by Chrome, disabled by our hosting providers, and overall is subject to an enormous amount of turbulence generated by the censors of the Internet.
By splitting the domains, we can protect our registered and paying users from this turbulence. ISPs that get mad at siasky won’t also get mad at skynetpro. We are quite confident that skynetpro is going to have a minimal amount of abuse. By requiring users to sign up with a credit card, we strip away the anonymity that protects bad actors from going to jail.
We are also confident that skynetfree will have significantly less abuse than siasky — for example, the need to have a skynetfree account nearly entirely eliminates skynetfree as a useful tool for phishing attacks; the target is unlikely to have a skynetfree account, and therefore will never be able to load the phishing website. This also prevents certain types of malware distribution for similar reasons, and also makes broadly sharing illicit files more difficult.
We’re not excited that these measures are necessary. We fundamentally like the idea that anyone, whether you are a developer with a degree or a high school kid building their first website in a developing country, can put a website online with no KYC and no hurdles. You shouldn’t have to prove you are a good person to be able to say what’s on your mind. In many cases such as whistleblowing, anonymity is a fundamental requirement to being able to speak the truth. And that’s why we’re going to fight to keep siasky around, despite all of the abuse.
Last November, when siasky really started to take on a lot of heat from the centralized web, we shifted gears as a company and put a lot of energy into ensuring it was easy and straightforward to run your own portal. We now have a new community-operated portal called fileportal, and we know of around a dozen community members that run private portals for themselves.
The beauty of Skynet is that all portals have access to the same underlying network. A file uploaded on siasky can be downloaded from fileportal with no impact to performance. A user can switch from one portal to another mid-session with no disruption to their experience. The data they had saved on their application over one portal will be identical when accessed from the other.
The portal setup process is still in private beta, but our most recent workshop was highly encouraging. The total setup time for the group was about 4 hours, and only a few bugs were encountered in total. We do have a bit more cleanup to do, but we expect to be hosting a public, recorded portal workshop in the next 2–4 weeks that will make running your own portal even more accessible. If you are feeling brave and want to participate in the private beta, join our discord and ping @Sevey, he will be thrilled to help you out.
The other major piece of software that we’ve been working on is called ‘The Skynet Kernel’. It’s a browser extension that automatically connects to several portals, and will swap between them if any are experiencing downtime. The kernel has a couple of other features, including making Skynet access fully trustless (currently there is a large degree of trust placed in the portal you are using), as well as giving developers new, powerful tools for creating decentralized applications. We expect the beta for the kernel to be released any day now. The code is largely complete and just going through bug fixes.
In the meantime, you can sign-up for your free account at skynetfree.net and check out our portal documentation at this link: https://support.skynetlabs.com/portal-accounts/portal-accounts