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HP researchers create browser-based darknet

HP researchers create browser-based darknet

The browser-based darknet system - dubbed Veiled - has been developed by HP security researchers Billy Hoffman and Matt Wood.

A browser-based system for anonymous peer-to-peer file sharing is due to be unveiled this weekend at the Black Hat conference – somewhat surprisingly created by Hewlett-Packard.

The so-called 'darknet' – a private network for file sharing and communication – is the brainchild of Hewlett-Packard security researchers Billy Hoffman and Matt Wood, according to eWeek.

Unlike existing darknet systems – such as the Freenet – Hoffman and Wood's creation, dubbed 'Veiled' requires no technical knowledge for participation, and neither does it require the installation of a client. Instead, the darknet relies on advances in browser technology to participate in the network – meaning that anyone with an HTML 5-capable browser can make use of the encrypted, anonymous network.

Coupled with the 'private browsing' functionality that is present in modern browsers – including Mozilla's Firefox and Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 – the system would allow for use with zero footprint on the host PC, meaning that there would be no evidence that the darknet has ever been used.

Files being shared across the system – which could even be accessible from smartphone devices, so long as the browser is up to the task – are fragmented and stored across multiple members of the darknet, and are encrypted to provide a layer of protection against snooping. The system even supports the hosting of entire websites, with fully operational hyperlinks to other documents hosted on the system.

The main aim for the project – aside from lowering the barriers to entry for darknet use – is to allow easy anonymous file distribution and storage. Wood claims that the system will allow a user to “join the darknet, upload the file and then close his browser and never be associated with that file again.

While Veiled clearly has a number of uses that will make the RIAA et al squirm, Hoffman and Wood believe that it serves a legitimate purpose too: human rights organisations and government whistleblowers who need to get some form of secret document out there without compromising themselves could easily make use of the system without putting themselves at risk.

The pair are expected to give a talk on Veiled on the 29th of July at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas.

Does the idea of a truly anonymous browser-based darknet fill you with joy, or are you concerned about the uses criminal types could find for the technology? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

22 Comments

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Star*Dagger 28th July 2009, 11:52 Quote
I simply must say: AWESOME!

Peer sharing will never be defeated, set sail fellow "Sharers!"
Whalemeister 28th July 2009, 12:08 Quote
YAAARRRRRHHHHH!!!!
LeMaltor 28th July 2009, 12:24 Quote
I can only see the negative uses like child porn, I think it would be very sad if people who enjoyed that kind of stuff were aided in this way :(
[PUNK] crompers 28th July 2009, 12:29 Quote
sorry why exactly are HP promoting a an anonymous download system?
_DTM2000_ 28th July 2009, 12:40 Quote
Hmm, what an odd thing for HP to make. It does sound interesting though and could have a lot of beneficial uses. I do worry a bit about organised crime and terrorists using technology like this for their purposes though. Lets be honest, it will mainly get used for illegally sharing copy written media and porn, which is already being done by other means and that's hardly going to turn the world into a paradise like utopia.
[Sam] 28th July 2009, 13:01 Quote
I can't see it being allowed to operate freely online. Surely this would lead to the complete destruction of the music, film and TV industry and give world-wide terrorist groups free reign to radicalise the population of the world.

Or, perhaps some albums and films will be downloaded to a computer in someone's bedroom. Just maybe people will still occasionally turn off the screen, leave the house and pay to see bands and films they like and have real experiences with other people.
DXR_13KE 28th July 2009, 13:20 Quote
[sarcasm] thanks to this the artists will starve to death[/sarcams]
AshT 28th July 2009, 13:38 Quote
CIA, FBI, US/UK government ... NSA ... you name it, they'll all be trying to stop this happening.

And likely fail.

Oh but the RIAA will succeed in bringing down this new tech due to Elton John needing a bigger mansion.
airchie 28th July 2009, 13:45 Quote
I think the whole point of it is that it can't be stopped.
All the negative uses people describe happen already anyway.
Its not hard to share stuff with other people in a secure way.
This just makes it easier.
Its not like banning this tech will stop the kiddie-fiddlers in their tracks.
That's like saying banning violent games will stop kids doing school-shootings etc.
Star*Dagger 28th July 2009, 13:55 Quote
the old "Think about the kids" and "this will ruin music and film industries" arguments.

Here is my answer from Tennyson...

Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

Yours in Cryptic Plasma,
Star*Dagger
Skiddywinks 28th July 2009, 14:13 Quote
Wow, impressive. Must say I am surprised to see it come out of HP.
War-Rasta 28th July 2009, 15:00 Quote
I'ma have to get me a bigger hdd!!
Zippy 28th July 2009, 16:36 Quote
I think if this tech works as described then I expect to see a more rapid improvement in the human social development. By this I mean that no longer will anyone be oppressed because of their opinion, there will be true freedom of expression, no longer will anyone be censored because the facts they bring are inappropriate.

I'm hoping this will bring change to some of the more oppressive governments, cut the kind of corruption we have seen (UK MP Expenses scandal, China/North Korea censorship/corruption, to name a few) around the world. If this could bring about some transparency in the governments and institutions, perhaps we will see that some governments will once again work for the interests of the whole and not the select few.

Granted if people want to share media or use it for bad things, there will always be a way to do it, perhaps this tech is more than that.
Sparrowhawk 28th July 2009, 17:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeMaltor
I can only see the negative uses like child porn, I think it would be very sad if people who enjoyed that kind of stuff were aided in this way :(

The legitimate uses of something will always be accompanied by the illegal uses, but the legitimate uses will always vastly outweigh them. Think of it this way, Karl Friedrich Benz didn't fret and worry that "Auchtung, the horseless carriage will only be used to get away from police and carry children over state lines!" (I totally just heard that in Jeremy Clarkson's voice, by the way. :D)

But yes. Even if 98% of the use of this system would be for music, movies, and porn; and only 1% for humanitarian uses like Chinese/Iranian dissidants -- then I can live with the inevitable 1% of child porn ****ups. (That get themselves arrested for it, hopefully.)
Ape 28th July 2009, 19:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zippy
I think if this tech works as described then I expect to see a more rapid improvement in the human social development. By this I mean that no longer will anyone be oppressed because of their opinion, there will be true freedom of expression, no longer will anyone be censored because the facts they bring are inappropriate.

Are you sure people won't just hide behind their computers downloading p0rn and movies?

What if the privacy revolution from HP were to breed discontent in the populace due to information freedom and anonymity?

I don't think governments will allow their citizens too much freedom somehow ...
Aracos 28th July 2009, 20:25 Quote
This fills me with complete joy, although I'll still stick to my known reliable sources to get my piracy, I see it being a breeding ground for viruses :(
B3CK 29th July 2009, 03:19 Quote
It kinda makes me want to start a website only accessible through this. I should guess that this will also have an impact on online banking, and secured websites as well.
nitrous9200 29th July 2009, 03:21 Quote
Too bad HP's laptops are utter shite!
confusis 29th July 2009, 10:53 Quote
Freedom of information leads to higher being. Good on HP. Maybe these guys have been targeted by various agencies too often to place anti-piracy on their systems?

What's the bet, however, this will be a pay service?
Zippy 29th July 2009, 14:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ape
Are you sure people won't just hide behind their computers downloading p0rn and movies?

What if the privacy revolution from HP were to breed discontent in the populace due to information freedom and anonymity?

I don't think governments will allow their citizens too much freedom somehow ...

I think people will definately use this tech in ways that it was not originally intended (newsgroups, p2p), such as hiding behind their computers to look at people fornicating (preferably with consenting adults), which is something we are very good at and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.

Though I do not quite understand your second question, how do you breed discontent by increasing information freedom? I can only see discontent in the bureacracy. I believe transparency will stop people in authority hiding behind form xyz and zxy and procedures, then are held more accountable for the decisions they make for the people they are serving. I imagine that if more people could see the intellegence documents about the weapons of mass distruction will probably have found holes and questioned this. Perhaps that war could of been avoided. Maybe you can give an example? So far I have only seen examples of discontent because of the lack of freedom of information.

To your comments about governments not "allowing" too much freedom, in most European countries you are allowed to have a voice, by voice I mean you are free to vote, free to petition your politicians and make a lot of noise with demonstrations. It is only when you do nothing, you let other people decide for you. Remember, governments are formed by the people (you and me) in the physical boundaries and in most countries you do have a say.

I think the only way forward is when we know something is not quite right and find ways to correct it, it is difficult to move on when we stay ignorant of facts.
Ape 29th July 2009, 19:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zippy
Perhaps that war could of been avoided.

No, it was always going to happen.
carlos4554 28th February 2010, 04:43 Quote
This is great progress... you folks need to read 2 books by Daniel Suarez , 1.) "Daemon" and 2.) "Freedom" to have a vision of a posible better future. This world is out of control. Governments and Corporations view people only as assests and not human. The Darknet as it evolves will help in giving people back their freedom and control. As it stands today... we are all voluntary slaves. Open your minds - Read and learn. There is still hope for our humanity.
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