Given that privacy and anonymity are such a hot topic these days, there are many projects that various people and organizations are developing for just that reason. Several of these I’ve already mentioned multiple times, including Tor, I2P, Freenet, and ZeroNet.
Nonetheless, I find the defunct ones to be just as interesting, partly because some of them used different methods for disguising one’s identity. A few that I’ve had a chance to check out are:
- Osiris Serverless Portal System
- anoNet: Cooperative Chaos
- Umbra (by the Shadow Project)
Some of these, in spite of no longer being developed, are still available for download, so you can check them if you’re just curious.
I thought I would give a brief explanation of each of these, and then let you explore on your own, if you wanted to find out more.
Osiris is a program used to create web portals that are distributed via P2P networking, and are not reliant on central servers (hence the name “serverless portal system”). Data on Osiris portals are shared between all participants. According to the Wikipedia article on Osiris, these are some of its key features:
- The system is anonymous. It is not possible to make an association between a user and their IP address, hence one cannot trace the person who created a content.
- Even with physical access to an Osiris installation it is impossible to trace the actual user without knowing his password.
- 2048-bit digital keys guarantee the authenticity of content (digitally signed in order to prevent counterfeiting) and the confidentiality of private messages (encrypted between the sender and recipient).
- To prevent the ISP from intercepting traffic, connections and data transfer to a portal (called alignment), Osiris uses random ports which are cloaked during handshake and encrypted point-to-point via 256-bit AES.
- The P2P distribution allows content to be present in multiple copies as a guarantee of survival in case of hardware failure or nodes off-line.
- As the portals are saved locally, one can read the contents even if one works off-line.
In some ways, Osiris is also like Freenet, in that it uses P2P distribution of content, has a reputations system, and uses cryptographic keys as identifiers.
Now, for those of you looking for creepy and disturbing stuff, I’ve never found any of that on Osiris. That wasn’t really my intention when I started using it. I was exploring other anonymity networks and software that I had yet to use.
The problem with Osiris is that it seems as though it’s no longer being developed, as I mentioned. Still, for the curious who just want to check it out, click the link above.
anoNet was a Wide Area Network (WAN) created in 2005. Its creators were a few people who were tired of the surveillance and constant data collection that still takes place on the clearnet today.
As on Freenet or ZeroNet, they wanted it to have functions like social networking, messaging, email, and website publishing, but the ability to do all of these anonymously. The network used OpenVPN, tinc, Quagga, BIRD, and QuickTun. OpenVPN and QuickTun were used to quickly connect nodes to one another, while BIRD and Quagga were used to exchange routing information with others on the network, allowing all peers to connect to each other easily.
What I’m not entirely sure of is if you can still connect to the network at all, since various sources have listed it as defunct. It may be similar to Osiris, in that it isn’t actively being developed, but the software is still available.
Umbra, like Osiris, isn’t really defunct, but it isn’t being actively developed. It was a division of The Shadow Project, the creators of the ShadowCash cryptocurrency.
It could be used for anonymous chat, messaging, email, and hosting websites (much like Freenet or ZeroNet). I haven’t had the chance to use it yet myself, but I would enjoy just playing around with it, if for no other reason than learning…and fun!
StealthNet was an anonymous P2P filesharing network, based on an earlier model, called RShare. Like many other P2P networks, traffic was routed through other nodes in the network, helping to keep users anonymous.
For better or worse, this project, too, has been discontinued. If you’re just curious about it, however, it looks as though you can download the software. It’s unlikely that there will be many (if any) peers to connect to, which kind of defeats the purpose of a P2P network!
Despite the fact that these networks have been discontinued, I expect that others like them are being developed right now, or will be in the future.
As I always say, if you’re a budding developer, why don’t you create one? It could eventually be something big!