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README.md

overhide

Overtly hide: a system to store users' data within their purview and to free client-software developers from the responsibility for their users' data.

About

At it's core overhide is solving a people problem. Consider an app developer who wants to create something, but doesn't want to front time, money, resources, into infrastructure to support the solution. Further consider a user who wants to use said service, but doesn't want to worry about who they're trusting with their data and information.

We're building a "trustless" Backend as a Service ecosystem to allow users of online client-software (applications/Web services) to remain pseudonymous and in full control of their data, without sacrificing data availability or impacting user experience. The users' data is hosted online providing all the availability benefits, but the hosts--known as data-brokers--do not know what the data is or who the users are. The client-software necessarily interprets their users' data so as to be useful, but the users can retain their pseudonymity.

An aspect of users' ownership of their data is that they can switch their data-brokers on demand. Their data is hosted online within specific brokers--for availability and performance--but the hosts are interchangeable at users' will.

The client-software developers benefit from this ecosystem by having available data backends they don't need to administer and maintain. They are absolved of being responsible for their users' data as the users themselves are empowered with their own data security: no data-breaches. The client-software developers need only focus on their software's functionality.

Furthermore the client-software developers can target platforms that don't protect executable software code from inspection and modification. The client-software has no need to store secrets client-side and remains commercially viable even when run in environments where the client-software can be fully decompiled. Namely the target platforms can be browsers.

A necessary quality of the software ecosystem is that the data-broker hosts, as well as the client-software authors, can be remunerated despite their users being pseudonymous. The data-brokers and the client-software can be commercial offerings. It should be noted that the remuneration to the data-brokers and software clients can be in the form of fiat money or crypto-currencies.

The remuneration functionality is an integral piece of the BaaS solution, but is also offered separately for ledger-based authorization by client-software not needing the reminder of the BaaS stack. The standalone remuneration piece is known as Ledger-Based Authorization as a Service (LBAaaS) (see the keybiner repo).

Overhide's mission is to make available open-source software enabling data-brokers with the above qualities. Overhide intends to run and maintain data-broker instances, to host necessary and related infrastructure, and offers the aforementioned remuneration framework.

The remuneration framework is flexible enough to be usable for fiat money today--hence accessible to the vast majority of online users--while future-proofing against rewrites of client-software for any new crypto-currencies in the future.


Within this repo you will find documentation and API specifications relevant to overhide. Implementations of these APIs constitute overhide deployments that act together to broker storing of a service's user data with qualities described above.

The heart of overhide is a "broker" between a "service" and a "user". It is a data-store that is completely uninterested in what the "service" is and who the "user" is.

A "service" could be an app who's authors don't want to be in the business of managing a backend for users' data.

A "user" could be a person who wants to own all the data used by the "service" and wants to remain pseudonymous to both the overhide "broker" instance and the "service".

For reference, below is a sample model of the above mentioned components. In green are the artifacts documented by this repository.

The model shows a browser with overhide's keybiner abstracted by overhide.js and exposed to the app (service) through its (green) overhide interface. The keybiner is a widget to deal with credentials and overhide.js is an implementation of the overhide JavaScript client API. The overhide.js references ledger APIs (web3.js, ohledger.com) as injected by wallets and libraries. The ledger APIs as well as the overhide broker are seen using the Ethereum blockchain. The broker is also seen using IPFS for persistence. This is but one model of possible implementation patterns; it is the reference model. There is nothing precluding a service or tooling written in any language from using the APIs directly, going against another ledger, or a completely different remuneration mechanism altogether (as long as it implements remuneration API).

components

  • a user uses the Web app, persisting and sharing data via overhide
  • a user interfaces with an Ethereum blockchain using their wallet browser module--external to overhide, optionally paying service and broker subscriptions
  • the app (service) code interfaces with the ledger via overhide.js, a clean abstraction to initiate payment of service and broker subscriptions with a cohesive UX wrapper
  • a user interfaces with a keybiner to group--in a user-friendly way--all the credentials, secrets, and overhide references as used by a given app (service)
  • All the wallet and the keybiner modules are decoupled from the app (service)
  • the wallets inject ledger libraries--such as Ethereum's web3.js JavaScript library--making it available to any in-browser app, service, or tool; albeit it's advisable to avoid direct use and decouple with overhide.js.
  • the keybiner is a standalone Web widget--making it available to any in-browser app, service, or tool (or a "Web view")
  • the overhide broker uses IPFS for distributed persistence of the data
  • the "user data" structure in IPFS is openly specified and accessible to user with external IPFS tooling
  • the user has flexibility to point the app (service) to another IPFS compatible overhide broker to access their data
  • the user has flexibility to use external "tooling" to import/export their data to a completely different implementation of an overhide broker, non-IPFS
  • both the app (service) and tooling use the overhide.js "client library" to interface with an overhide broker

Qualities of overhide

  • open source specifications: to enable storing of data in the open
    • broker API for data storage
    • remuneration API to enable payment of brokerage and service subscriptions
    • client library to promote decoupling of trust
  • as available and reliable as the technology stack implementing the specification; the reference implementation is geared to be both
  • provides ability to remunerate brokerage and service provider via various ledgers: pseudonymous subscription fees
  • "trustless" (decentralized); overhide broker is discoverable via broker-lookup from Web 2.0 stacks, and broker can be easily switched out when need arises.

Benefits to Service/Application

  • no need to administer a backend: outsource reliability and availability to experts
  • no need to be responsible for user data: empower user with their data security, no data breaches
  • no API keys in client code or code metadata executing in unprotected contexts (browsers)
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance
  • no need to worry about who the users are: they're pseudonymous shadows
  • no need to deal with user passwords, password complexity, password recovery
  • can still collect service subscription fees using APIs via various ledgers

Benefits to User

  • user owns their data
  • overhide.js secures user's data client side--secured before leaves the browser
  • user can validate security of their data: user has transparency into overhide broker to validate encryption by service
  • user has the option to treat their online data like any other local computer application data; back it up, export, import, move providers.
  • user continues to have all the availability and reliability benefits of storing data in the cloud/on-prem server

Expected Use Cases

The above benefits can only be reaped for certain expected use-cases of a "service".

  • only suitable for certain data patterns where service's data can be reasonably expected to be fully managed within a rich client application: no use of SQL relational data, database-engine, indices, server-side processing, or server-side third-party integrations
  • suitable to make decentralized apps (DApps) regardless of their use of ledger technology: seems the right fit for DApps' off-chain data and no-chain DApps

Where To?

Click through the flowchart below and decide how to jump around this material.

"Where To?" Flowchart

Glossary & Notation + Canonical Specifications

Please refer to the glossary to get comfortable with terms and notation syntax used within the repo.

Includes canonical specification of algorithm choices and other conventions.

Identity

Aim of overhide is to keep data private. Anonymity is an important part of privacy. See how overhide leverages pseudonymous identity to remunerate brokers.

Secrets and the Keybiner

The overhide system deals with hostnames, addresses, secret-keys, secret-phrases, secret-seeds--the secrets write-up discusses these and how they are reigned-in with the help of the keybiner widget.

Delegation and Subletting

Helping maintain users' data ownership is a major task of overhide; however, not all user's are interested in taking the reigns right away. The delegation and subletting write-up touches on two mechanisms to onboard users onto a service without forcing them to immediately take control of their data.

overhide.js

The overhide.js library is currently being shaped into a minimally viable product before first release. There is a subset of features planned to be released.

This overhide.js JavaScript client library provides the client implementation of the overhide APIs. The library benefits app/service developers in the standard ways.

By convention this library is to be provided in the global context via an overhide object.

overhide.c

The overhide.c library is on a back-burner pending minimally viable product release of other components.

The overhide.c linkable client library provides the client implementation of the overhide APIs externalized as C calls. The library doesn't provide widgets such as the keybiner or abstraction of wallets, but smooths out broker interaction with a plethora of languages--C/C++, Golang, Python, etc.; the world is not just JavaScript and peaches.

Data Decentralization

A core value of overhide is to keep user data decentralized or at least portable. The overhide API works in conjunction with resilient distributed persistence networks.

The overhide reference implementation upholds data decentralization in its solution.

Broker Trustlessness

Brokers are trusted to write-out your data only as far as Ethereum or Bitcoin nodes are trusted to write-out your transactions. Brokers are your agents to the network and are economically incentivized to do the right thing as network peers.

The overhide API minimizes required trust.

Broker-Lookup: On Targeting Data Hosts with Users' Ledger Addresses

Users do not need to carry around and make available their data-hosting broker information for routine service access. Services can leverage broker-lookup when provided with just the public user-address associated with the data.

Broker API

An API exposed by overhide broker, provides access to broker's services.

An overhide.io broker instance with a minimally viable product feature-set is planned first.

Remuneration API

The overhide Remuneration API enables ledger-based authorization and permeates overhide features.

On Scaling and High Availability :: Reference Implementation Deployment as of May 2019

Brief on overhide deployments with regards to scaling and high availability. Discusses overhide deployments as they're running at https://overhide.io and https://ohledger.com (as of May 2019).

On Applicability of a Key-Value Store

An example of overhide applicability to a problem customairly solved with a relational database in the back-end.

On Authorizations and Exposed Source Code

A brief on dealing with authorization code-flows with source code exposed by user-agents such as browsers.

Tell Your Users

The following page contains assets to include and link into your application or service--to tell your users that:

  • they own their data
  • their data is encrypted before it leaves their browser
  • they continue to have all the availability and reliability benefits of the cloud

bring your own data <-> your data be yours.

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