Feeds

Censor-buster Peek-A-Booty goes public

P2P Proxy

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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?

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
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?
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.