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HP Develops Browser-Based Darknet

InformationWeek is reporting that HP researchers have developed a browser-based darknet, and plans to debut the prototype--entitled Veiled--at the Black Hat USA 2009 security conference next week. The researches didn't intend to release the software or make the darknet source code available to the public, but rather intends to demonstrate how advanced web browsers have become as an application platform.

For the uninitiated, a darknet is a closed, private network mainly used for secure communications within a private group, however the term has expanded to include file sharing. Normally software is used to establish a darknet--GNUnet, Freenet, and The Onion Router to name a few--however thanks to the latest generation in JavaScript engines (Mozilla's TraceMonkey, Google's V8), darknets can be established using a browser on PCs or mobile phones.

Matt Wood, senior security researcher at HP, said that the Veiled darknet is a hybrid of peer-to-peer and client-server models. Veiled still relies on servers to negotiate communications, however those servers only perform as routers. Clients on different servers can actually communicate directly, as Veiled can merge servers together.

Wood also added that Veiled isn't meant to replace darknet software such as The Onion Router, but rather serves as a tool for "creating instant, online communities to serve a flash mob."