Decentralizing Trust & Reputation for the World Wide Web with Cryptocurrency

In the video below I explain what we’re building and why. If you would like to participate in our new project please join our Telegram group and follow @MetaCert on Twitter. I can be found at @Paul Walsh.

Overview

It seems not a week goes by without news of a crypto exchange being hacked, a major corporation or public institution suffering a web security attack, or thousands of victims losing all of their money in a phishing scam. What makes web security a tough challenge for organizations and individuals is that the security threat environment on the Internet is constantly evolving.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community that sets the open standards for the Web. Our team constructed some of those standards — including the standard for URI Categorization. With your help, combined with our expertise and technology, we can finally decentralize trust and reputation for the Web in a way that wasn’t possible until now.

We envision a world where you feel safe when opening a link.

We not only aim to democratize access to cryptocurrency, but also intend to make the Web a safe haven for everyone. Anyone with access to a basic computer or smartphone, no matter where in the world, is eligible to participate in our project. All you need to do is either submit a URI and information about it, or validate other submissions. The Ethereum blockchain allows us to build a global crowdsourced reputation engine for the entire Web by incentivizing good behavior through the mechanics of a Token rewards system, while also mitigating the risk of bad actors who wish to spoil the quality of the data. We have a unique opportunity to rewrite the narrative of the Web, something that is now possible for the first time since the Web was born in 1991.

When we started off, we worked off of a centralized system, something that we believed then to be the norm. With the influence of fellow Crypto enthusiasts in the industry, we began to learn the true potential of what a decentralized system could actually look like. After much commentary, community engagement, research and internal discussions, we knew we could be on the forefront of a revolution. This is where the new project for the MetaCert Protocol was born. We understood that the people who are protected by security products are the same people who want to make them better, just as we do.

The problem

The World Wide Web relies on URIs (Universal Resource Identifiers) to identify resources such as domain names, social media accounts, news articles, apps and bots. But can you rely on the safety of a URI before opening it? Who is the real owner of amazon.com? Is this app safe to download? Does the site contain JavaScript that will hijack my CPU for crypto mining? Is the content safe for kids? Does the news article come from a reliable source? Has this crypto wallet address been verified? Is this a fake Twitter account? These are just some of the questions that people ask themselves every day. Sometimes they think about asking these questions after opening a link — when it’s too late.

The general issue with trust and reputation on the Web, is who checks the checkers? And who can we trust to decide, who can be trusted? Until now, we have had little choice but to trust centralized organizations with a powerful, almost a monopolistic grip on what can and cannot be trusted.

Even open source transparent lists are just that, arbitrary lists of things that are considered good or bad. Where’s the guarantee that each item on these lists are error free and genuine? And if we rely on them, what’s the guarantee they will carry on being there?

In short, we don’t know what or who to trust. We have no choice but to trust the largest commercial entity that dominates their category or the individual developer who has hacked an open source tool that may or may not be supported in the future.

Phishing, Malware, Brand Identity, Fake News and Pornography all have one thing in common; URIs. Websites that are categorized as Sports, Religion, Media, Entertainment and Social Media, all have one thing in common; URIs. As we said earlier, URIs are used to identify resources on the Web. A URL that links to a webpage for example, is one type of URI. A URI might also be a link to a bot, app, API or IoT device.

Opening the wrong URI can result in people logging into the wrong website and losing all of their Crypto assets within seconds. Some people even download and infect their personal device or corporate network with malicious malware or ransomware. And some can’t tell the difference between what is real news and what is fake. And now more recently, people are visiting websites that hijack their CPU for the purpose of crypto mining.

When we publish our white paper in a few weeks, we will go into detail on how momentous this problem truly is, why current solutions don’t work, and the future as we see it, for the most challenging cyber threats of today and in the future; Phishing, Malware, Brand Reputation, Internet Child Safety and News Reputation.

The Solution

Over the years MetaCert has researched and developed some of the world’s most advanced crawlers and threat intelligence system for categorizing Web resources. Thanks to our unique technology and approach, in addition to the help from thousands of people in our community, we have built the biggest source of trust and reputation information about URIs in the world.

Thanks to the Ethereum blockchain, it is now possible to rewrite this story. We now have the capability to incentivize good behavior while mitigating the risk of bad behavior, by crowdsourcing the submission and validation of URIs. Ethereum allows us to build what is called a Token Curated Registry (TCR). The Registry is an open and transparent ledger where all of the intelligence about all URIs is stored. The ledger cannot be edited without an audit trail being recorded.

Tokens, along with software that has game mechanics built-in, incentivizes people to submit, review and validate information about URIs in a way that wasn’t possible before now. Our white paper will provide insight to the Token mechanisms that make it unique to addressing trust and reputation for the Web.

We finally get to decentralize the entire concept of Trust and Reputation for the World Wide Web by putting it back into the hands of the people who use it. Think of this new registry as a Whois database for the entire web but with credible, validated information that’s open and transparent on the blockchain.

Over the years we have built a number of security applications that protect hundreds of thousands of people. These apps make MetaCert the first customer of this new open protocol / registry. Take Cryptonite for example, it’s a browser extension that protects Crypto enthusiasts from phishing sites while turning the shield green whenever you visit a crypto site that has been verified by MetaCert. Cryptonite, along with every other security app, uses this registry to know what is good and what is bad.

If you don’t already use Cryptonite, you must. Then, when you submit or validate crypto domains and social media accounts, or report/validate a phishing domain, you get paid in Tokens. The data you contribute, is then utilized by Cryptonite. So in essence, you are getting paid for protecting yourself from phishing scams.

Stay tuned as we launch our whitepaper and give the power of the internet back to the people who it belongs to.

You can learn more about the project in a little more detail, but still at a high level at next.metacert.com

Come join our community and help us make the Web a safer place. Join our Telegram channel and follow us on Twitter.

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