Bitcoin Meta Apps
Bitvisor; my First Bitcoin Meta App
This article will show that bitcoin is so much more than a currency, making things possible that are impossible with traditional fiat currencies. Therefore, those who say that bitcoin has no intrinsic value will be proven wrong (again.) Bitcoin, the technology as well as the currency, are two things that are inseparable; you can't have one without the other. This is because the reward to miners who verify transactions at lowest possible cost makes the Bitcoin network grow. The size of the network makes it safe which we can take advantage of by building applications on top of the Bitcoin blockchain. These applications are called "meta apps".
Unless you're into servers and computers, SSH is most likely something you never have heard of. SSL is slightly more familiar due to the recent "Heartbleed" bug. SSH means "Secure SHell" and is one of the most dominant applications for system administrators to remotely control their (Linux) servers. SSH uses SSL under the hood to setup a secure communcation channel, so that's the relation between the two pieces of software.
Anyone who has a server knows (or should know) that it constantly gets attacked by malicious strangers. Despite this fact, I, and many others, keep a door open so we can remotely access our servers via SSH (using user name and password.) Yes, there's the option of using certificates to strengthen your security further, but certificates are cumbersome to install and sometimes you don't want to install certificates on a random computer to gain access to your server.
So this got me into thinking. What if every hacking attempt had some cost associated with it? In that case these bulk attempts in trying to break into my server are going to be expensive (for them) and at the same time accrue me some money.
It is with great pleasure I can show a proof-of-concept app called Bitvisor that is a PAM (Pluggable Authentication Module) service that I've written in C++ for Linux. Any application that supports PAM (SSH is being one of them) will then be compatible with Bitvisor. For those who are PAM experts, the module is "an account module", which serves as additional security layer beyond the authentication module which usually consists of the combination of username and password.
How does Bitvisor work? The easiest way to explain it is the work flow:
From this we'll draw some observations:
Try it Yourself!I've setup my server with a sandbox environment. You can go ahead and create a dummy account on my server for which you are granted access using the above procedure. These accounts are just dummy accounts, so you don't have to choose a strong password (although I am not storing your password in plain text; they are hashed.)
Test SSH Login
ConclusionFrom now on I hope you look at Bitcoin in a different way. It's truly revolutionary and as Andreas Antonopoulos says "Currency is just the first app". What I've shown here is just the beginning. Nobody thought about Twitter or Facebook when Internet was born. So I'll end with my own ridiculous remix of an old Kennedy quote:
"Ask not what Bitcoin can do for you — ask what you can do for Bitcoin."
For Developers OnlyThe GIT repositoiry for the Bitvisor implementation is accessible through here:
git clone git://datavetaren.se/bitvisorYou need the following packages installed: