Although limited on the Alpha network and in the last several testnets, a normal PC is normally able to start and run between 20 and 50 Vaults without causing any trouble when it comes to CPU usage. Is this desired? No, not really. Running a Vault in a group of Vaults (close nodes) comes with quite some responsibility. A Vault needs to sign messages and route chunks up to 1MB max. in size. This means running several Vaults could add up quite fast in bandwidth terms choking the connection and making the Vaults less reliable and the network overall slower.
There is a but… in this story. It isn’t desired to run several Vaults that slow down the network but what if we could run the most simple nodes without ever routing a chunk? Signing messages and verifying data isn’t really big on bandwidth. It’s actually so low that running several Vaults isn’t a problem as long as they don’t route chunks. But is it wishful?
Every P2P-network has it’s weakness. And most P2P-networks where attacked over the last 15 years. Think of transaction spamming on Bitcoin or 51% attacks on the smaller coins. Could SAFE be attacked? You bet. No matter how good the code is, even SAFE has it’s weak spot. When the network is below 10.000 nodes it’s quite easy for any organisation to start a whole bunch of “low bandwidth” nodes on cloud services in a try to slow the network down or to get it out of balance. If we have 10.000 or maybe 20.000 nice people running a Vault at home we’re still vulnerable. Is there something we can do about it? I think the answer is yes.
Every group on the network should be open to several “security nodes”. These are nodes that don’t route chunks, keeping them very low in bandwidth. It allows people at home to run several instances of them next to a normal vault without hurting farming. And how does it add to security? Well, if a country or group wants to attack SAFE it could be done by starting a big group of slow nodes in the cloud or over some botnets. Some of these botnets have over a million nodes in them. Imagine they attack SAFE while we’re only at 350.000 nodes. They might not target a group but for sure they can hurt the network.
Now imagine if every group allows several security nodes as I proposed above. How would they help the network? First of all they add nodes to the network. So instead of 350.000 nodes we might see 600.000 nodes where a big part of them are just security nodes. It allows people at home to add security to the network this way. So even when we see some weird behaviour on the network and we feel “something is wrong” we could simply ask the community to start several security nodes next to their vaults to add security and stability to the network. These nodes are just like the normal Vaults but they have a flag added that they would like to start as a security node. When they join they wait for a group to pick them up.
Just a thought.