To add, edit or remove publications on your own node (we will call it home node by analogy with homepage) you need to authenticate with any mechanism of your choice - login and password is the simplest one.

But for other nodes such a simple mechanism does not fit. You cannot sign up and enter you credentials on every node in the Internet. To confirm our identity when accessing other nodes we will use digital signatures.

Every user must generate for himself a signing key - a secret cryptographic key he will use to sign all his messages and requests. The corresponding public key must be stored in a public database accessible to any Moera node or client, so they will be able to verify the signature.

Cryptographic key must be long and random. No user can remember it and enter by hand. Therefore, we store it at the home node instead. Every time we need to sign a message, we send it to the home node, the home node signs it and sends to the recipient.

The whole process is as follows:

  1. Alice starts the client.
  2. Alice enters the URL of her home node, her login and password.
  3. The client authenticates on the home node with login and password and gets the authentication token. This token is stored on the client side and used in all interactions with the home node.
  4. Alice opens Bob’s node with the client, writes a comment and clicks “Send”.
  5. The client sends the comment to Alice’s home node.
  6. The home node signs the comment with Alice’s signing key and sends it to the Bob’s node.
  7. Bob’s node gets Alice’s public key from the public database and verifies her signature. Also it checks whether Alice has a permission to leave comments under Bob’s posts.
  8. Bob’s node publishes the comment together with Alice’s signature.
  9. Carol opens Bob’s node with her client and reads Alice’s comment.
  10. Carol’s client gets Alice’s public key from the public database and verifies her signature.
  11. Carol’s client notifies Carol that the comment was indeed written by Alice.

(steps 2-3 may be skipped, if the client already has the authentication token)

Note steps 10-11. In a decentralized network we do not trust Bob that he doesn’t write fake comments on Alice’s behalf. The cryptographic signature gives us proof instead of trust.

Also note that reading public content is possible without authentication. There are no cookies that would be sent automatically on every request. You may stay anonymous as long as you want. You can even use Tor to hide you IP.

Anonymous postings are also allowed, if the node decides to accept them. Or the node may receive a signed posting, check author’s permissions and strip the name and the signature before publishing. This may be necessary if disclosure of the author’s identity may hurt him. Privacy is important.