The Road to Privacy & On-chain communication, 4thTech DEV Roadmap
We spent the last four years developing the 4thTech foundations, which are built around privacy and ecosystem integrations. Privacy by design was our guiding approach when building 4thTech. That simply means that we put the consideration of how we could preserve privacy, guarantee protection, and obfuscate metadata to the largest possible degree at the forefront of all our architectural decisions. At the same time, no personal data whatsoever is collected by 4thTech. We were able to build the multi-chain framework that is Ethereum, Polkadot Substrate and Solana interoperable, while it enables on-chain email and messaging that is private, secure, censorship-resistant and immutable. 4thTech enables both W2W communication and will enable E2EE group chat with an additional component of curated community chat groups. Users are also able to share files, and media, through the wallet, in the form of dMail or dChat attachments. An ecosystem can only thrive when solutions are not built in isolation. We have our own UI for the 4thTech dID, dMail, dNotary and dChat but see the maximum potential in ecosystem-wide adoption. Any supported blockchain network app that is looking to include W2W communication features will be able to integrate email and chat functionalities into its platform through our white labels and SDK. We especially see a lot of potential in Web3 projects with large emerging communities such as DAOs, NFTs, gaming, DeFi, Metaverse… Which are all currently using Web2 communication tools, as there is no Web3 on-chain solution on the market.
So, where are we now? What are the development milestones ahead to reach a state where end-users will be able to communicate on-chain privately and exchange their data while retaining ownership? When will Web3 projects enable their communities to use decentralized communication instead of relying on Web2 centralised platforms?
Development milestones ahead
- Stable, affordable & fast blockchain as an underlying network — 2022
- SDK framework DEV — Q3 2022
- dChat EVM SC DEV — Q3 2022
- ECDH protocol integration & MetaMask support — Q4 2022
- UI platform 3.0 DEV — Q4 2022
- W2W E2EE group messaging DEV — Q2 2023 (i.e. estimation)
- Broadcasting Web3 dMail to SMTP client DEV — Q4 2023 (i.e. estimation)
The importance of an underlying Blockchain — 2022
One way to achieve privacy in online communication is to put it on-chain (i.e. one message equals one transaction). Blockchain always offered the promise of enabling private, immutable W2W communication, while retaining data and identity ownership, it is by design the perfect privacy tool. On-chain communication should provide sufficient security and privacy, assuming the underlying protocol is decentralised and secure enough. However, it could never really take off due to the stability, scalability and cost constraints of early-generation blockchains. We spent over four years developing the 4thTech multi-chain communication building blocks deployed on various Layer 1s; (1) Ethereum 2018; (2) SI-Chain 2020; (3) Edgeware 2021, and; (4) Solana 2021. As time passed, we were faced with stability and scalability issues. We are still searching for the perfect fit in regards to network decentralization, performance, microtransaction cost and transaction time to finality. With new modern blockchains, new scalability models are emerging such as Avalanche subnets, Polkadot Substrates or Cosmos Interchains. Designed to be application-specific blockchains, these new sub-blockchain technologies could be the answer that we are looking for. To truly enable stable on-chain (i.e. one message = one transaction) W2W E2EE communication an application-specific blockchain could be the solution.
SDK framework — Q3 2022
An Ecosystem can only thrive when solutions are not built in isolation. We have our own UI for the 4thTech dID, dMail, dNotary & dChat but see the maximum potential in ecosystem-wide adoption. Any supported blockchain network app that is looking to include W2W communication features will be able to integrate email and chat functionalities into its platform through our white labels and SDK. We especially see a lot of potential in Web3 projects with large emerging communities such as DAOs, NFTs, gaming, DeFi, Metaverse… Which are all currently using Web2 communication tools, as there is no Web3 on-chain solution on the market.
4thTech DEV team is currently working on; (1) Ethereum TypeScript packages; (2) full test coverage for each package, and; (3) SDK usage docs.
dMail & dChat EVM — Q3 2022
We started to build in Solidity to support the dMail Ethereum deployment, continued in Rust to be able to deploy on Edgeware and ended up developing Solana-specific dMail & dChat smart contracts (i.e programs). As time passed the EVM standard prevailed or became supported by the majority of the network protocols. FOURdx (i.e. dMail) EVM protocol was already developed in 2018 and can easily be deployed on any Ethereum-based chain. To enable EVM interoperability also for the FOURim Protocol (i.e. W2W E2EE dChat) we are building a new dedicated Solidity SC.
ECDH protocol integration & MetaMask support — Q4 2022
From 2018 on, we are developing a solution-specific multi-chain wallet add-on (i.e. FOURwaL). The FOURwaL non-custodial wallet framework supports all Chromium & Mozilla-based browsers and provides a secure way to connect to Web3 dID, dMail, dChat & dNotary as it contains a pair of public and private cryptographic keys. A public key allows; (1) RSA encryption of data; (2) screening of recipient wallet addresses (i.e. Ethereum, Tolar, Substrate, Solana…); (3) for other wallets to execute services to the desired wallet’s address, whereas a private key enables the decryption of received communication such as dMails and short messages from the sender address.
To enable the use of more popular wallets such as MetaMask, Phantom and others, we have to upgrade the encryption standard to ECDH. While the message or email is encrypted with Advanced Encryption Standard (i.e. AES), the Elliptic-Curve Diffie-Hellman (i.e. ECDH) key agreement protocol is used for generating a secret key (i.e. used in AES encryption). The implementation of the ECDH protocol will enable the interoperability of 4thTech communication protocols with popular Web3 wallets while shortening user adoption and onboarding.
UI platform 3.0 — Q4 2022
The 4thTech UI platform serves as an onboarding hub accessed by the user via Web3 wallet. It connects and hosts all the 4thTech protocols and services in one ecosystem, giving the user all-in-one access to; (1) FOURid, on-chain digital identity; (2) FOURdx, W2W E2EE dMail; (3) FOURns, dNotary data verification protocol and; (4) FOURim, W2W E2EE on-chain dChat.
With over a year in development, the UI platform 3.0 update focuses on user onboarding UX, availability of accustomed email and messaging features and high-end crypto design. The new UI will enable light or dark mode with contrast colours predominating the interface, inspiring the users with simplicity, step-by-step onboarding and reassurance while executing complicated transactions in the background. The design is made also for white-label solutions and can merge with the brand just by tweaking the brand logo and UI colours. Service-specific features such as dChat conversational dropdowns will add further functionality; (1) adding a nickname to the message sender address; (2) muting conversation; (3) hiding a conversation; (4) copying the message receiver address; (5) pin conversation, and; (6) archive the conversation. Overall the 4thTech UI platform 3.0 update will bring design unification accompanied by a set of new dMail & dChat features, while the platform front-end and back-end will be separated to achieve the first steps toward platform decentralization.
As a part of the new dev framework, specific modules of the platform will be separated into independent libraries that will hold all the relevant logic in one place and will enable new development quicker and more efficiently; (1) encryption & decryption logic library; (2) storage logic library; (3) multi-chain logic library, and; (4) wallet interaction logic library.
Designed by the DOF group and developed by 4thTech, the UI platform 3.0 update will mark a new achievement in the crypto space.
*Note: In phase two of the 4thTech platform decentralization; (1) the public-key repository will be moved from 4thTech cloud storage to decentralized storage (i.e. applicable to RSA encryption); (2) the JSON metadata file repository will be moved from 4thTech cloud storage to decentralized storage.
E2EE group dChat — Q2 2023
E2EE group messaging was always difficult to achieve, this goes for Web2 and especially for Web3. We have developed the tech, we just need time to implement it. E2EE group messaging will open a whole new chapter in Web3 on-chain communication and could disrupt Web2 DAO tools like Discord or Slack.
Broadcasting Web3 dMail to SMTP client — Q4 2023
The current commercial Web2 email and data exchange services do not provide suitable solutions that could be used securely and privately by end-users or enterprises. There are free commercial services available, but the user pays significantly for the loss of privacy and data ownership. There are industry-based payable solutions on the market that offer higher security but are mostly based on centralized databases which are always vulnerable to SPOF (i.e. single point of failure). The exchange and ownership retention of confidential and process critical digital data and email communication between partners in any industry relies on complete protection and privacy, whether from service providers, competitors or hackers in general. Sensitive data exchange and email communication need dedicated services that use encryption and high-end security technology to enable privacy and data ownership as data is becoming a new digital oil.
To retain data ownership and privacy within legacy email communication, 4thTech developed a unique and immutable blockchain-based solution. Based on our Ethereum, Polkadot and Solana interoperable protocols, we are developing a Web3 dMail to SMTP client that will empower Web2 email users to bridge their email communication to Web3 and harness the security and privacy of decentralized blockchains. A stand-alone desktop app will enable users to send or receive E2EE emails via a supported blockchain network using their email client apps such as Microsoft Outlook or Apple Mail. At its core, the client prevents data theft, data tracking or data mining, while it’s impervious to content surveillance.
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