Node Trees: A model for configuring and managing large distributed systems (by )

(FX: Flashback wibbly wobbly transition...)

So, as a teenager, I started working on ARGON, a distributed operating system. At the time, the CPU cost of encrypting traffic could be a significant matter when communicating over untrusted networks, so I'd worked out a protocol whereby network communications between clusters could negotiate to find the lowest-cost encryption scheme that both parties considered acceptable for the sensitivity of the data being transmitted: more sensitive data would require more secure protocols, which presumably excluded cheaper ones.

But I wanted to do something similar for communications within a cluster; I started with the same idea - finding the cheapest algorithm considered secure enough for the communication at hand. This could be simplified, as all nodes within a cluster share the same configuration, so both will agree on the same list of encryption systems, with the same security and costliness scores; so no negotiation is required - the sender can work out what algorithm to use, and be confident that the recipient will come to the same conclusion.

However, it pained me that highly sensitive data would be encrypted with expensive algorithms, even between machines connected by a trusted network - maybe even right next to each other, connected by a dedicated cable. I wanted a way to be able to, through configuration, tell the cluster that certain links between nodes in the cluster are trusted up to a certain level of sensitivity. Connections at that sensitivity level or below can use those links without needing encryption; anything above would use a suitably trusted algorithm.

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