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Meet Herbivore - an anonymous P2P networking protocol

October 04, 2003
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herbivore.gif The recent aggressive behaviour of RIAA to track down single users of certain P2P networks shows the need for an anonymous way of sharing documents.

At the moment it is the musical industry desperately trying to keep up surreal profits. What if instead it was a corrupt government hunting down political opposition?

In a nutshell, Herbivore is a "peer-to-peer, tamper-resistant, scalable anonymous communication protocol".

Until now, individuals have been able to safeguard the content during a communication with means of strong encryption. This has however not protected their identities and any authorities monitoring Internet traffic, e.g. ISPs, have been able to trace back to where a communication originated.

First critical property of Herbivore is that it "hides the identity of communication endpoints, even from attackers with unrestricted wiretapping capabilities". Herbivore achieves this by utilising dining cryptographer networks, or DC-nets for short. Read an illustrative example on the basis of DC-nets.

Two other critical properties of the protocol are that it scales well with large amount of users and that it is bandwidth efficient. Both necessary requirements for a future world wide used P2P network that intends to share large documents.

If you are interested in the juicy details, i.e. mathematical explanations, there is an excellent whitepaper that explains Herbivore in depth.



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