Blockchain

Timski, the Decentralized Slack for iOS

IOLogics Limited, a UK based software agency, recently launched their messaging application for iOS which works much like Slack. This close replica of Slack is called Timski, which is powered by Blockstack. Imagine having an application that gives you security and authority of storing your own chats using your private keys, with no possibility of privacy infringement and data breaches, this is what Timski does for you. All the messages are stored on a user-owned storage which means no data locking, collection or tracking.

The founder, Hammad Tariq explained the project to BlockPublisher recently, according to him,

“Timski is a decentralized group chat app for iOS. It uses Blockstack’s distributed infrastructure as auth and storage provider. Centralized apps like Whatsapp and Slack keep all their user data on servers they control, there is data lock-in and users are tracked in the name of improving services. On the other hand, Timski is one of the first in the new breed of dApps where all of the user data is stored in a user’s own storage, whereas, the app is just a thin client pulling messages from each user’s storage and showing them in a synchronized way. In more simpler terms, in Timski’s case, my messages and channel meta information is stored over my storage and similarly, all of your chat data is stored over yours!”

The recent incident of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica got a lot of users worldwide worried about their data and privacy. Timski was built on blockchain to eliminate these factors, which also include possibilities of hacks because all the user data is locked in their storage using their own private key which can’t even be accessed by the developers. The application is currently working on a decentralized platform, with a centralized server just to track user invitations. The developers aim to change this later on to a blockchain based solution as well.

Hammad Tariq, the founder and developer of the project recently tweeted a video on how the application works,

Upon asking what aspects were unique about Timski, Hammad replied,

This fundamentally changes the way we use the internet today as now the user is in the center of the new internet with full control of what’s happening with his/her data and the usage history. Here is an example of the freedom that Timski brings, let’s say you are using Timski for the chat and there is another app Dimski built over the same architecture that is now offering better features and you want to switch-over. All you will have to do is to download the other app and login with the same Blockstack ID, all of your channels and chat messages will still be there.

Applications like Whatsapp and other messaging applications nowadays also provide end to end encryption for chats to be made more secure and inaccessible for the hackers and data collectors. The question that rose was that what was the need for a decentralized chat application when centralized applications were already promising security for the users? Answering this question Hammad said,

Again, for this question think of what is encryption and how it works? In the case of WhatsApp, it is mostly for securing the communication between their servers and the user apps. It is possible that these apps also encrypt data before storing but that would mean they have the master keys to decrypt the data stored on their servers and using them they can always open the vaults and see what’s stored in them!
In the case of Timski and other apps built over Blockstack, you as a user keep the master keys of your storage vaults, simply put:
a) The developers of the app don’t have any access to the data the users are storing unless they authorize them to and that’s also when you sign-in to the app
b) Each of the user keys is different, the data is stored over each individual’s own storage and there is no universal master key to decrypt even if someone gets access to your storage
“This fundamentally shifts the current dynamics of user data encryption,” Hammad added.
Lastly, asking how blockchain plays its role in the application and what role does Blockstack have in Timski, Hammad replied,
Blockstack is the auth and storage provider. It’s the same as Facebook is a provider of auth and Firebase is a provider of storage, only this time the architecture is distributed. Blockstack’s storage thesis is that P2P storage is hard as connectivity and reliability is a big issue. However, nearly everyone has a Dropbox or Google Drive account nowadays and these accounts are running from data centres that are configured to take on huge traffic spikes at any given time. Blockstack’s mission is to write drivers for all of these cloud storage providers and enable users to use their personal accounts to store their own social networking data. It may also use other IPFS based storage providers like Filecoin in the future as well. Currently, users can download Blockstack’s heroku node and run that as their own, using it to store their private data.
Assuming that the privacy claims made by the developing team are true, the application would really be a breakthrough for the chat applications in the decentralized domain.
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Shehryar Hasan

Performing artist, guitarist and sub-editor at BlockPublisher. Shehryar is an electrical engineer and blockchain enthusiast. He holds investments in bitcoin, ethereum, OST, TRX and Ripple. Email: shehryar@blockpublisher.com or contact the editor at editor.news@blockpublisher.com

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