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MIT Researchers Have Presented A New Fully Untraceable Text Messaging System

Security Networks

Anonymity networks, that is, networks which guarantee you total privacy from spying tools that detect your web browsing habits, seem to be the in-thing these days. Tor is one of the most popular and widely-used anonymity networks and has been around for more than 13 years, with millions of people that use it every day to hide their web browsing habits.

Anonymity networks like Tor, however, may not be as anonymous as you think. Recent research has proved that if one monitors only a few nodes of these anonymity networks, then that person can find a lot of data. As recent as in October, a new text messaging system claiming to block even the most powerful of tracking tools has been launched at the Association for Computing Machinery Symposium on Operating Systems Principles. This new text messaging tool offers you absolute anonymity backed by a strong mathematical guarantee. At the same time, the user is allowed to exchange text messages almost every minute.

Tor works on a number of assumptions which may as well be dated. For example, Tor assumes the absolute absence of any global-entity or network which is monitoring every single website link in the world; however, that may no longer be a safe assumption either for Tor or its users. Another assumption that Tor makes (and which again might well be incorrect) is that there is no single badass fella keeping control over a large number of nodes of their system. In fact, the truth is, it may well be possible that as many as half of the servers of the Tor network have been compromised already.

Now back to the text messaging system, named ‘Vuvuzela‘ by its creators, which, on the surface, works just like any other text messaging system – in that one user leaves a text message for another to receive it from a predefined location. Below the surface however, the users’ tracks are obscured with not one, but multiple layers of obfuscation – in order to provide them with total anonymity and to cover users trails.

Vuvuzela is a system that takes no chances. It already assumes that compromises can occur and that adversaries may be more powerful than Vuvuzela itself, which is why it uses not one, but three servers. To top it all, every message a user sends through this messaging system is encrypted with a three-level encryption technology. Thus, even if one or two servers are compromised, the system can function well and offer you with the same level of anonymity as long as at least one server has remained uncompromised.

About the author

Warren Simons