One of my readers, with whom I’ve been corresponding on and off, wrote to me with an idea about creating a hidden network from scratch. It may have been inspired by one of my earlier posts, The “Shadow Web” Cited Me? Awesome!
In this post, I speculated about how you could create your own “shadow web,” i.e. a network that offered anonymity, and that you and only a select few people could access. In response, this reader had a few suggestions for such a network (I’m paraphrasing his (or her?) words here):
- One in which you could communicate via Telnet or Netcat over the Tor network.
- No DNS, no sites, just chats.
- Each user has his own list of peers.
- No nicknames, just onion domains.
- Everything is done manually, to avoid potential security flaws.
- Users select someone to chat with from the peer list and connect via TCP socket over Tor.
This is, more or less, what I had in mind when I described the idea of creating a hidden network, although I had hoped that you could build websites on top of it too. What I’m unsure of, in his description, is what he means by “no nicknames,” as I would think you would need some kind of identifier to use a chat feature.
Even if the names weren’t user-generated, you could have this encrypted chat generate them for you. To use the example of the “nonsense word generators” again, perhaps the program could generate two names like this:
It could also generate cryptographic keys for each identity, like:
It’s similar to Freenet’s WebOfTrust plugin, which also generates identities for users of the network. In the case of Freenet, you have to solve some puzzles (which are more or less CAPTCHAs) in order to introduce your identity to other users. This is done to prevent bots from “joining” the network.
Personally, I love this idea, although I’m still in the process of studying some of this, and I might need a little help getting started. Anyone else have ideas to contribute? Feel free!
Hey, sooner or later I may actually have my own darknet! (And of course, I’d have to make it dark and scary.)