Feeds

Censor-buster Peek-A-Booty goes public

P2P Proxy

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

CodeCon Peek-A-Booty, cDc's much vaunted anonymity app, is vaporware no more - it went public at the landmark CodeCon conference in San Francisco's DNA Lounge on Sunday.

Peek-A-Booty is designed to let surfers access sites blocked by government restrictions, and is essentially, a distributed proxy network. It uses a peer-to-peer model, masking the identity of each node. So the user can route around censorship that blocks citizens' access to specific IP addresses, because the censor doesn't know they're going there. If you're a Peek-A-Booty node, you might be doing it on their behalf. So the software isn't itself a browser, but simply requires the user to use localhost in the proxy field of their preferred browser.

Working out the general architecture was the easy bit. The tricky bit, explained cDc developers Paul Baranowski and Joey deVilla (and relax, they're happy to use their own names now), was anticipating and thwarting a wide variety of the attack measures, from outside or inside the Peek-A-Booty network itself. The design process took six months, beginning in July 2000, but coding only started in earnest six months ago, after a hiatus.

Peek-A-Booty nodes send out standard SSL, so the censorware can't distinguish the request from any other secure electronic transaction: the authors describe this as a form of steganography. But a rogue node inside such a network could harvest the addresses of all the other nodes, so Peek-A-Booty deploys a "virtual circuit", borrowing ideas from the Crowds anonymous web browser.

"Most P2P systems really want their nodes to be found, our problem is that you want to be found, but you really don't want to be found," said Baronowski. So Peek-A-Booty uses random forwarding based on probability - no one knows where the connection originated except the originator - and eschews time to live packets. For security, there's no attempt at initial discovery - you'll get sent details of a node by word of mouth, or from some other secure source. Baranowski and deVilla expect that citizens groups (NGOs) will become trusted servers. But as a one-time operation, you can use Peek-A-Booty to download Peek-A-Booty.

The demo - of version 0.75 running on Windows XP- showed off the web-based configuration management tool and the centerpiece, the Peekabear screen saver. Which is very cute. (We've been promised screenshots and will add them to this story as soon as they arrive).

Joey told us that the code was pretty standard Unix code (on the wxWindows [and not Cygnus Windows, as earlier reported] environment), so a Linux and even a Mac OS X port should be trivial. But Windows is on most desktops, and for Peek-A-Booty to work effectively - like SETI - it needs participating nodes, so that's where the numbers are.

It's a single threaded architecture right now, and grabs one link at time, but the authors say it runs pretty well on a low-end PII, and the demo proved this. "This will be fixed," they promise.

The pair are working on the code full time, so they need funding. There's a basic website, [note the .org TLD - there's erm, booty of the regular kind at the .com] but you'll need to mail the authors to get access to CVS tree.

The pair got a tremendous ovation from third day CodeCon attendees, and if it withstands attack, will be a boost for human rights. Bravo. ®

Related Stories

Censorware outfit targets cDc's anonymity app 'Peek-A-Booty'
Will cDc privacy app Peek-A-Booty put users at risk?

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Lawyers mobilise angry mob against Apple over alleged 2011 Macbook Pro crapness
We suffered 'random bouts of graphical distortion' - fanbois
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management
How using vulnerability assessments to identify exploitable weaknesses and take corrective action can reduce the risk of hackers finding your site and attacking it.