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Author Topic: Mesh Networking for better security, freedom from ISP's...etc..  (Read 4673 times)
braindead0
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« on: April 25, 2012, 03:38:55 PM »

This topic came up in the Drone thread, rather than hijack I thought I'd start fresh.

In short, mesh networking is a topology where all nodes are capable of routing traffic.  Given enough people on the network you end up with a spider web of connections that can be very robust and resistant to attack.

What follows is just some thoughts on the subject.

This *could* improve privacy, however there's nothing keeping 'bad' people from joining in the network unless you create some central authority to manage things.  Of course creating a central authority also creates problems, lots of them.

If the traffic is routed dynamically and packets from a conversation can (or even better must) take different routes then it becomes very difficult to intercept and read traffic.

Having something like this is of course of limited use unless egress to 'the internet' is provided.. or everyone on the net joins in ;-)

Current network privacy systems (tor, i2p, freenet, etc) run on top of the existing network infrastructure which gives them a huge advantage over mesh networks.. in that everyone can participate without much effort and in many cases they provide similar benefits (routing traffic to make tracing/capturing difficult).

I don't think mesh networking is going to get anywhere fast, but it's certainly something to keep an eye on for the future.

Here's some further information, a bit outdated hopefully we'll turn up other newer resources:

http://www.baselinemag.com/c/a/Tools-Primers%98hold/Primer-Wireless-Mesh-Networks/

And of course the Wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesh_networking
« Last Edit: April 25, 2012, 03:57:52 PM by braindead0 » Logged
helio
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« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2012, 03:45:09 PM »

So a question.  Would a mesh network necessarily use the existing network infrastructure as well? 

If so, I think this is ultimately bad as the ISPs are the gatekeeps and are complicit with state power.

If not, we can't very well run our own fiber, and wireless transmitters are easy to find and shut down. 
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braindead0
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« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2012, 03:47:58 PM »

So a question.  Would a mesh network necessarily use the existing network infrastructure as well?  

If so, I think this is ultimately bad as the ISPs are the gatekeeps and are complicit with state power.

If not, we can't very well run our own fiber, and wireless transmitters are easy to find and shut down.  
Most (if not all) mesh networking systems use wifi, the open source ones use cheap wifi cards.  

Sure they can be identified, however you can't necessarily tell the difference between the wifi nearly everyone is using in their homes and wifi that's mesh-networked.  

It's likely possible to fingerprint the mesh network traffic and use that to ID members of the network.  However that can likely be mitigated.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2012, 03:56:36 PM by braindead0 » Logged
braindead0
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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2012, 04:03:42 PM »

An additional advantage might be to encourage more regular folks to use strong encryption, which would encourage developers to make it more accessible.

Imagine you're regular Joe and you want in on your local mesh network.  When you find out that all of your data is going to travel through dozens if not thousands of other regular Joe's systems... you might be encouraged to encrypt.
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Seth King
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« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2012, 04:22:54 PM »

I don't think the mesh network is viable until Tor, i2p, etc. become unviable. The only way that's going to happen is if the state bans encryption and actively goes after people just for using encryption software. Then, merely using Tor, i2p, etc. would be illegal. I imagine the state would force ISP's to block users that send encrypted text through their network since the state wouldn't have the resources to go after every person that uses encryption. That's when mesh networks will pop up, I believe.

But I think it's premature to try pushing people into mesh networks when Tor and i2p are perfectly viable options right now. They're also underutilized. So, if Tor is underutilized you can bet your bottom dollar that the mesh network would be dead.
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« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2012, 04:24:34 PM »

This sounds like an awesome application for bitcoin markets to encourage widespread adoption as that seems to be the lynchpin, getting it started.

Each node would function as a market agent, negotiating the best routes for the best prices and users would pay based on their time preference and wallet capabilities.  This would be an extra income source and might spontaneously replace the internet as we know it.
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braindead0
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« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2012, 07:27:06 AM »

I don't think the mesh network is viable until Tor, i2p, etc. become unviable. The only way that's going to happen is if the state bans encryption and actively goes after people just for using encryption software. Then, merely using Tor, i2p, etc. would be illegal. I imagine the state would force ISP's to block users that send encrypted text through their network since the state wouldn't have the resources to go after every person that uses encryption. That's when mesh networks will pop up, I believe.

But I think it's premature to try pushing people into mesh networks when Tor and i2p are perfectly viable options right now. They're also underutilized. So, if Tor is underutilized you can bet your bottom dollar that the mesh network would be dead.
Most attempts to commercialize mesh networking have been failures.  I'm not so sure that Tor is underutilized though, browsing speeds through tor are abysmal.

You're right though in that people have to first get interested in protecting their information.  Considering how easy it is for bad guys to get people to click links that install worms/trojans/backdoors/etc..  Not much hope there.

I think mesh networking has it's uses for small communities/neighborhoods in particular.  A secure mesh network would be an excellent means of interconnecting security cameras so that they are isolated from the net at large but still accessible to the members of your mesh network.

It could also be a means of providing cheaper internet access...er.. maybe not legit due to the TOS.. but you could always claim that you accidentally left your wifi router unsecured..  whoops ;-)
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Seth King
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« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2012, 10:58:49 AM »

I don't think the mesh network is viable until Tor, i2p, etc. become unviable. The only way that's going to happen is if the state bans encryption and actively goes after people just for using encryption software. Then, merely using Tor, i2p, etc. would be illegal. I imagine the state would force ISP's to block users that send encrypted text through their network since the state wouldn't have the resources to go after every person that uses encryption. That's when mesh networks will pop up, I believe.

But I think it's premature to try pushing people into mesh networks when Tor and i2p are perfectly viable options right now. They're also underutilized. So, if Tor is underutilized you can bet your bottom dollar that the mesh network would be dead.
Most attempts to commercialize mesh networking have been failures.  I'm not so sure that Tor is underutilized though, browsing speeds through tor are abysmal.

You're right though in that people have to first get interested in protecting their information.  Considering how easy it is for bad guys to get people to click links that install worms/trojans/backdoors/etc..  Not much hope there.

I think mesh networking has it's uses for small communities/neighborhoods in particular.  A secure mesh network would be an excellent means of interconnecting security cameras so that they are isolated from the net at large but still accessible to the members of your mesh network.

It could also be a means of providing cheaper internet access...er.. maybe not legit due to the TOS.. but you could always claim that you accidentally left your wifi router unsecured..  whoops ;-)

Tor speeds are abysmal(by today's standards) but i2p's isn't. I think the reason for this is because with i2p you get the speed you're willing to donate to the network. In i2p land everyone is a node and there aren't really exit nodes. In Tor there are a ton of leeches and a lot of people using Tor to view the clear web.

If/when Tor gets popular enough, people will hopefully be able to spend their time solely/mostly in onionland and not hogging bandwidth by visiting the clearweb. Also, the Tor software has made it a lot easier to act as a node. I understand that forcing everyone to act as a node would sort of defeat the purpose, but that doesn't mean there couldn't be more incentives to get people to act as nodes.

Conclusion, I think Tor has a lot of potential. When I visit onionland it reminds me of the early days of the internet. I don't see any reason why it has to stay that way, though.
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JustSayNoToStatism
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« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2012, 10:53:08 PM »

I don't think the mesh network is viable until Tor, i2p, etc. become unviable. The only way that's going to happen is if the state bans encryption and actively goes after people just for using encryption software. Then, merely using Tor, i2p, etc. would be illegal. I imagine the state would force ISP's to block users that send encrypted text through their network since the state wouldn't have the resources to go after every person that uses encryption. That's when mesh networks will pop up, I believe.

But I think it's premature to try pushing people into mesh networks when Tor and i2p are perfectly viable options right now. They're also underutilized. So, if Tor is underutilized you can bet your bottom dollar that the mesh network would be dead.
Most attempts to commercialize mesh networking have been failures.  I'm not so sure that Tor is underutilized though, browsing speeds through tor are abysmal.

You're right though in that people have to first get interested in protecting their information.  Considering how easy it is for bad guys to get people to click links that install worms/trojans/backdoors/etc..  Not much hope there.

I think mesh networking has it's uses for small communities/neighborhoods in particular.  A secure mesh network would be an excellent means of interconnecting security cameras so that they are isolated from the net at large but still accessible to the members of your mesh network.

It could also be a means of providing cheaper internet access...er.. maybe not legit due to the TOS.. but you could always claim that you accidentally left your wifi router unsecured..  whoops ;-)
Nice, I'm glad to see this topic came up again. I think it's a great idea. From my limited understanding/imagining of how it could work, it's the only way to get "true" anonymity.
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braindead0
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« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2012, 07:12:22 AM »

I don't think the mesh network is viable until Tor, i2p, etc. become unviable. The only way that's going to happen is if the state bans encryption and actively goes after people just for using encryption software. Then, merely using Tor, i2p, etc. would be illegal. I imagine the state would force ISP's to block users that send encrypted text through their network since the state wouldn't have the resources to go after every person that uses encryption. That's when mesh networks will pop up, I believe.

But I think it's premature to try pushing people into mesh networks when Tor and i2p are perfectly viable options right now. They're also underutilized. So, if Tor is underutilized you can bet your bottom dollar that the mesh network would be dead.
Most attempts to commercialize mesh networking have been failures.  I'm not so sure that Tor is underutilized though, browsing speeds through tor are abysmal.

You're right though in that people have to first get interested in protecting their information.  Considering how easy it is for bad guys to get people to click links that install worms/trojans/backdoors/etc..  Not much hope there.

I think mesh networking has it's uses for small communities/neighborhoods in particular.  A secure mesh network would be an excellent means of interconnecting security cameras so that they are isolated from the net at large but still accessible to the members of your mesh network.

It could also be a means of providing cheaper internet access...er.. maybe not legit due to the TOS.. but you could always claim that you accidentally left your wifi router unsecured..  whoops ;-)
Nice, I'm glad to see this topic came up again. I think it's a great idea. From my limited understanding/imagining of how it could work, it's the only way to get "true" anonymity.
Well, it would not be perfect by any long shot.  As the mesh network nodes are broadcasting, it's fairly trivial to triangulate the position of any station in the network.  It would be difficult to pin-point where something originated, in particular if the users were using additional anonymizers (tor/i2p/vpn).  If one had a mesh network with 10,000 people involved.. it would be really hard to track down something a particular person did.... however given enough resources likely possible.
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« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2012, 03:11:41 PM »

http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/222556/gnu_free_call_an_open_source_skype_alternative.html

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