And now, another hodge-podge post dealing with some final technical details not previously discussed.
Nodes and Clients
In the Mesh, there are nodes and clients. Client devices are what people use (PC, laptop, smartphone). They connect to the local network, using whatever devices and protocols apply. (Each Enclave has their own unique network.) Nodes send and receive data to and from other networks, on behalf of client devices.
If you’re in New York, and request data from another New York computer, the Mesh doesn’t know about it, doesn’t care about it, and isn’t involved in any way. It only cares if you request data from, say, San Francisco. Then the request is queued up, to be sent as soon as your priority allows. San Francisco’s node will send the data back, as soon as your priority allows. This can take quite a while.
(Mesh traffic being slow and expensive, people are maniacally focused on using every single possible trick to compress the data. Typically, these are implemented as a preflight process, before encrypting the Mesh-bound data. Speaking of encryption…)
Mesh broadcasts occur in the clear: anyone with a radio can receive them. (In fact, people operating deep in the Outlaw have special receivers that can tune in Mesh transmissions, allowing them to receive, but not send data.) Therefore, all Mesh traffic is encrypted at the client level. Failing that, the node encrypts the data (necessary for pre-Mesh clients).
Encryption works something like PGP: you encode with one key, and anyone with the correct key can decrypt it. (This is a “public” transmission.) Alternately, you can send a “private” transmission, which can only be decrypted on the device you’re sending to.
Encryption is designed to be transparent and effortless. The protocols are built into every program with network access.
Technically, these protocols are only required for the Mesh, but most local networks apply them to all traffic. For the most part, all network traffic in 2039 is encrypted, and with lengthy keys. Mundane hacking is possible, but the easiest form of data intrusion is cracking via the Shadow World.
(Traffic is encrypted in “chunks” of data, the same size “chunks” the Mesh broadcasts. This ensures that any errors that slip through the error checking only corrupt a single chunk, not a whole file. It also ensures that Mesh nodes only have to resend that single chunk.)
Unless something comes up, that’s the last of the Mesh posts. I’m hoping to post one more message about the telecom shroud tomorrow, but after that it’s on to something new.