In the wake of the NSA leaks and Edward Snowden’s revelations about a surveillance state gone haywire, hacking groups like Anonymous have started to look for new and, in a fashion that dutifully lives up to their own name, “anonymous” methods of communication that can render an entire multi-billion dollar data dragnet obsolete.
Sometimes to go forward you have to take a couple steps back, and it seems that’s exactly what we’ve seen Anonymous do here. By creating a fresh set of tools that can link up to any standard HAM radio setup, the group (which is widely-maligned by international governments for their keen ability to avoid prosecution en masse) is continuing in its tradition of fooling the feds by waking up a little bit earlier and catching the worm a few seconds before Uncle Sam gets a chance.
Called “Airchat”, the two-way transceiver is capable of encrypting the digital communications of anyone who has the system hooked up on LAN to their computer or laptop, and relies on a proprietary security standard known as “Lulzpacket” to encrypt anything sent over the built-from-scratch boxes that make the whole thing possible.
This ensures that only the people involved in the conversation itself are able to hear what’s happening on each end, with the handshake process split into separate steps which keeps each part of the modernized smoke signal isolated from itself. Think of it like an airlock system on the space shuttle, but built for data instead.
“Each node only cares for what is being received,” the project page states. “No hardware identification, no transmitter plain identification. Only packets matter. Transmissions are anonymous.”
The conversion system is only the first step of course. After your radio is properly configured to send and receive messages from a specific channel you then have to solder a couple wires from here to there in order to create a radio that knows exactly what to listen for and how to filter out the rest of the unnecessary noise which doesn’t involve the information you’re trying to send or receive.
Airchat will come with the option to include Tor and a proxy net on top of the system if a user is so inclined, and will also be pre-equipped with all the necessary encryption methods required to keep their correspondence as under wraps as possible.
Although it’s a promising (and necessary) step toward creating a foolproof encryption standard that can subvert anyone who tries to listen in, the speed at which information is transmitted between two stations will prevent it from hitting that same sort of mainstream acceptance and use we’ve seen from similar efforts such as Tor or the Darknet mesh-based network.
It’s exciting to see people turning to tried and true methods of communication in order to prevent the pesky Federalis from listening in where they weren’t invited, and Airchat is certainly a big step in a direction that is ripe for innovation which will continue to make our private lives safer and more secure by the day.