ARTICLE

Data Transmission Methods with Atsign’s NoPorts and atSDK

 

Data transmission forms the backbone of virtually every aspect of our interconnected world. This includes transferring files, accessing cloud services and other forms of communication over the Internet. Data transmission has three crucial facets: the process itself, the importance of security in these transmissions, and the varying methods that ensure data reaches its intended destination with optimal efficiency and protection.

Problems with Existing Forms of Transmission

Several issues can be identified with today’s methods of data transmission. The primary concern is the potential vulnerabilities that exist. Cybercriminals can carry out attacks such as man-in-the-middle, packet sniffing, spoofing, and more. Many platforms use weak encryption methods or no encryption, besides the basic TLS that encrypts traffic. If transmitted data that has little to no encryption is intercepted, unintended recipients can easily read it.

How Atsign Does It Differently

Atsign has developed a versatile software developers kit (SDK) called the atSDK in addition to an application called NoPorts, which both acknowledge that there is no universal approach to data transmission. The two types of transmission that exist within the atSDK are real-time control signals, where transmitted data is continuously monitored; persisted control signals, where transmitted data is securely stored until needed; and the implementation of transmission through NoPorts is on the application layer, specifically using TCP. Below is an in depth look at these different forms of transmission and how they are a game changer to sending information securely over the Internet. 

Real-Time Control Signals

The first transmission type is Real-Time Control Signals on the atProtocol. One example is Notify, which sends signals, and another is Monitor, which receives signals. The “notify” verb enables us to notify an atSign of a data event. Below is an example of notify being used by @alice sending a sample message to Bob.

The monitor verb streams received notifications. You can monitor notifications from your friend @bob simply with the command:

 

 

If you want to learn more about Notify and Monitor, you can find information about them within Atsign’s documentation. 

An example of real-time control could be a scenario where you have a greenhouse that houses numerous plants requiring specific humidity levels throughout the day. Instead of manually checking the sensors every hour, you can set up an atSign connected to the humidity sensor to notify (upload) the sensor’s readings every hour. Each time a new reading is uploaded, it will notify your atSign, which monitors these notifications.

Persisted Control Signals

The second type of transmission is called Persisted Control Signals. This involves the atProtocol verbs, which are common data transmission functions. These include Put (to store a signal), Get (to retrieve a signal), and Delete (to delete a signal). After creating your atSign keys, as detailed in the documentation, we can store and retrieve data as if a database were local to us. However, in reality, the data is stored remotely on the data owner’s atServer.

This is achieved by each data element having an owner (the sending atSign) and a receiving atSign. Behind the scenes, the atSDK encrypts the data and sends it to the atServer for delivery. All we need to do is use the following simple command:

A great illustration of Persisted Control is seen in NoPorts, where the daemon must share the username of a Linux user. This username is stored in the atServer using the put command and does not change frequently. When the client needs the username (e.g., with an SSH command), the client software can easily retrieve this key using the get command. Persisted storage is most effective when dealing with values that should be stored on a more permanent basis.

Application Layer (TCP) with NoPorts

The third and final type of data transmission is the Application Layer TCP on NoPorts, which utilizes SSH, RDP, HTTP(s), and VPN. The reality and principle behind the protocol is to distribute what you can and centralize what you must. However, sometimes a centralized service is required and cannot be avoided. This application may also require a centralized point of access. This is where SSH, RDP, HTTP(s) (Web servers and REST APIs), and VPNs come into play.

Atsign technology is powerful and will lead to a world-changing Internet architecture. Knowing this, it will take some time for our technology to be integrated into the everyday lives of people, businesses, and the rest of the world. With this idea in mind, we have incorporated our technology in the application layer (with TCP). How have we achieved this? That’s where NoPorts comes in. We now have NoPorts if you want to transmit data over a socket with zero trust and end-to-end encryption.

To imagine how data is transmitted over NoPorts, picture yourself as a system administrator (you may already be one!), tasked with managing a large network of IoT devices spread across multiple locations. These devices are critical for your company’s operations, and you need a secure, efficient way to access and manage them remotely.

After setting up your client device with an atSign and the client software, you can then do the same with the devices you wish to connect to by providing them with an atSign and installing the device software. Once you have completed these steps, you can now easily and securely transmit data. 

With NoPorts, you can revolutionize how you connect your devices. With NoPorts, you can securely access all of your IoT devices without exposing any ports to the internet. This significantly reduces the risk of cyber-attacks and simplifies the remote management process. If you wish to understand more in-depth how data is transmitted with NoPorts, you can check out the breakdown of Atsign’s Zero Trust Planes. 

How Are Atsign’s Forms of Transmission Better?

The forms of transmission mentioned above effectively address common issues. Real-time control allows for immediate awareness of data events, reducing latency and enabling prompt responses to changes or alerts. Secure notifications can be sent using the atSDK, ensuring that they are transmitted securely, authenticated, and encrypted. This facilitates secure monitoring, as continuous monitoring without manual intervention ensures that critical data is always up-to-date and accessible, thereby improving operational efficiency for system administrators.

 The atSDK integrates persisted control to provide secure data storage and data integrity. Data is encrypted and can only be read by the intended recipient, making the process user-friendly while maintaining high security. Atsign takes pride in data ownership, ensuring clear ownership and access control through the data owner (the atSign sending the data) and the recipient (receiving atSign) structure. As a result, the atSDK proudly stands on enhanced security and accountability.

 The atSDK features a zero-trust architecture with NoPorts, which eliminates the need to expose ports. This significantly reduces attack surfaces, making it harder for attackers to find entry points. The end-to-end encryption prevents interception and tampering, providing a key security benefit. NoPorts also simplifies the management of IoT devices and other networked systems by reducing complexity and potential security risks associated with open ports.

Conclusion

The landscape of data transmission is constantly advancing to meet the demand for faster, more reliable, and secure methods. Atsign’s atSDK represents a major leap forward in this field, providing robust solutions that prioritize end-to-end encryption and zero-trust principles. By addressing real-time control signals, persisted control signals, and the application layer with NoPorts, Atsign offers versatile and secure data transmission methods to meet various needs and scenarios. Looking ahead, Atsign’s technology is poised to redefine the benchmarks for data security and transmission, heralding a safer and more dependable digital landscape.

 

Why Open Source

Atsign technology has been open source from day one. See exactly why open source embodies the values we hold as a company.

read more

Zero Trust Sockets

Simplify network security by starting at the socket level. Colin Constable explains how a Zero Trust Sockets approach is better.

read more
Share This