[p2p-hackers] NYT on "Internet in a Suitcase" for dissidents

Aaron Huslage huslage at gmail.com
Tue Jun 14 11:46:47 EDT 2011

I've been working on a similar, but safer, system called Tethr.us (as in US,
not USA) for the past 6 months or so. I'm at the point of looking for
funding to build a prototype.

It's a satellite modem (BGAN) with OpenBTS, wifi access point and a gateway
server called Tethr.org. Any piece can be powered off individually via the
admin UI. It has NO mesh networking and all radios, by default, run at
~100mW so they don't travel far enough to be a huge security risk. The
onboard server provides DTN or sync services so that the system is useful if
you just connect with a wire and only turn on the radios once in a while. On
the backend, everything is optionally proxied out via TOR (to conserve
bandwidth we don't do it on the gateway side, but we could).

I've targeted it at journalists who understand the risks of running radios
in a hostile environment, but anyone can certainly benefit. I know the
limitations of BGAN and would love to replace it with something else, but
the ubiquity, battery capacity and antenna size make it suited for this sort
of work.

If anyone is interested in hearing more, let me know and we can talk about
it on another thread here or off-list.

On Tue, Jun 14, 2011 at 11:25 AM, Michael Rogers <m-- at gmx.com> wrote:

> On 14/06/11 04:42, Julian Cain wrote:
> > On Jun 13, 2011, at 8:38 PM, Jan Brittenson <bson at rockgarden.net>
> > wrote:
> >> I think all you need is something that can be turned on at specific
> >> times, to get a message out.  Then shut it off.   People will have
> >> their phones on, then all of a sudden they get service, a text
> >> message or two, after which the service promptly drops again.  A
> >> station only needs to be on long enough to get the message out.
> >
> > ... and to receive the acknowledgement regarding said message.
> Acks may or may not be necessary, depending on the protocol. With a
> Usenet-style flooding protocol it's sufficient to transmit each message
> opportunistically to everyone you meet and discard duplicates - no acks
> are needed.
> >> I think the main challenge is how to prevent a regime from
> >> hijacking the network.  This will probably require an organized
> >> structure with isolation, redundancy, a revocation protocol, and
> >> careful safeguarding at the top.
> Funnily enough I'd argue for the opposite approach - the way to make it
> robust isn't to safeguard the top, it's to have no top. ;-)
> Imagine a completely distributed publish-subscribe network organised
> into "channels", where each channel's subscribers flood the channel's
> messages among themselves using a simple Usenet-like protocol.
> How do we prevent agents of the regime from drowning such a system with
> spam?
> Solution 1: Restrict who can post to each channel. (For example, by
> associating each channel with a public/private key pair - subscribers
> discard any messages that aren't signed with the private key.) That
> would create a bloggish/twitterish style of interaction where each
> channel would have one author (or a small group of mutually trusting
> authors) and an unlimited number of readers.
> Solution 2: Peer moderation. In this model, any subscriber can post
> signed messages to a channel, but each subscriber will only forward
> messages signed by authors who that subscriber has manually marked as
> not being spammers. Thus new authors can't reach a wide audience until
> they've won the trust of some other subscribers.
> Solution 2 involves more work for subscribers than solution 1, but it
> allows multi-way discussions, whereas solution 1 could potentially
> devolve into people shouting past each other. Fortunately both solutions
> require similar infrastructure, so we can build them both into the same
> system and see which one people prefer.
> > The number of dissident operated devices need only outweigh a
> > "regime" in order to protect the network. The same rules apply to
> > most overlay networks.
> Not really - most P2P and wireless overlays can be jammed by a small
> number of malicious nodes, including the mesh protocols that have been
> discussed for these "internet in a suitcase" type ideas.
> Cheers,
> Michael
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Aaron Huslage
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huslage at gmail.com; Skype - huslage
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