Free Haven Project

Last updated

The Free Haven Project was formed in 1999 by a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology students with the aim to develop a secure, decentralized system of data storage. [1] The group's work led to a collaboration with the United States Naval Research Laboratory to develop Tor, funded by DARPA. [2] [3]


Distributed anonymous storage system

The Project's early work focused on an anonymous storage system, Free Haven, which was designed to ensure the privacy and security of both readers and publishers. [4] [5] It contrasts Free Haven to anonymous publishing services to emphasize persistence rather than accessibility. Free Haven is a distributed peer-to-peer system designed to create a "servnet" consisting "servnet nodes" which each hold fragments ("shares") of documents, divided using Rabin's Information dispersal algorithm such that the publisher or file contents cannot be determined by any one piece. [6] [7] [8] The shares are stored on the servnet along with a unique public key. To recover and recreate the file, a client broadcasts the public key to find fragments, which are sent to the client along anonymous routes. For greater security, Free Haven periodically moves the location of shares between nodes. [9] [10]

Its function is similar to Freenet but with greater focus on persistence to ensure unpopular files do not disappear. [11] The mechanisms that enable this persistence, however, are also the cause of some problems with inefficiency. [12] A referral- or recommendation-based "metatrust" reputation system built into the servnet attempts to ensure reciprocity and information value by holding node operators accountable. [13] [14] Although nodes remain pseudonymous, communication is facilitated between operators through anonymous email. [15]

Work with Tor

Tor was developed to by the US Naval Research Laboratory and the Free Haven Project to secure government communications, with initial funding from the US Office of Naval Research and DARPA. Tor was deployed in 2003, as their third generation of deployed onion routing designs. [2] In 2005, the Electronic Frontier Foundation provided additional funding to the Free Haven Project. [2] In 2006, the Tor Project was incorporated as a non-profit organization. [2]

Related Research Articles

Freenet Peer-to-peer Internet platform for censorship-resistant communication

Freenet is a peer-to-peer platform for censorship-resistant communication. It uses a decentralized distributed data store to keep and deliver information, and has a suite of free software for publishing and communicating on the Web without fear of censorship. Both Freenet and some of its associated tools were originally designed by Ian Clarke, who defined Freenet's goal as providing freedom of speech on the Internet with strong anonymity protection.

Peer-to-peer Type of decentralized and distributed network architecture

Peer-to-peer (P2P) computing or networking is a distributed application architecture that partitions tasks or workloads between peers. Peers are equally privileged, equipotent participants in the application. They are said to form a peer-to-peer network of nodes.

David Chaum American computer scientist and cryptographer

David Chaum is an American computer scientist and cryptographer. He is known as a pioneer in cryptography and privacy-preserving technologies, and widely recognized as the inventor of digital cash. His 1982 dissertation "Computer Systems Established, Maintained, and Trusted by Mutually Suspicious Groups" is the first known proposal for a blockchain protocol. Complete with the code to implement the protocol, Chaum's dissertation proposed all but one element of the blockchain later detailed in the Bitcoin whitepaper.

GNUnet A framework for decentralized, peer-to-peer networking which is part of the GNU Project

GNUnet is a software framework for decentralized, peer-to-peer networking and an official GNU package. The framework offers link encryption, peer discovery, resource allocation, communication over many transports and various basic peer-to-peer algorithms for routing, multicast and network size estimation.

Onion routing is a technique for anonymous communication over a computer network. In an onion network, messages are encapsulated in layers of encryption, analogous to layers of an onion. The encrypted data is transmitted through a series of network nodes called onion routers, each of which "peels" away from a single layer, uncovering the data's next destination. When the final layer is decrypted, the message arrives at its destination. The sender remains anonymous because each intermediary knows only the location of the immediately preceding and following nodes. While onion routing provides a high level of security and anonymity, there are methods to break the anonymity of this technique, such as timing analysis.

An anonymous P2P communication system is a peer-to-peer distributed application in which the nodes, which are used to share resources, or participants are anonymous or pseudonymous. Anonymity of participants is usually achieved by special routing overlay networks that hide the physical location of each node from other participants.

A dark net or darknet is an overlay network within the Internet that can only be accessed with specific software, configurations, or authorization, and often uses a unique customized communication protocol. Two typical darknet types are social networks, and anonymity proxy networks such as Tor via an anonymized series of connections.

Anonymous web browsing refers to the utilization of the World Wide Web that hides a user's personally identifiable information from websites visited.

In a Sybil attack, the attacker subverts the reputation system of a network service by creating a large number of pseudonymous identities and uses them to gain a disproportionately large influence. It is named after the subject of the book Sybil, a case study of a woman diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder. The name was suggested in or before 2002 by Brian Zill at Microsoft Research. The term pseudospoofing had previously been coined by L. Detweiler on the Cypherpunks mailing list and used in the literature on peer-to-peer systems for the same class of attacks prior to 2002, but this term did not gain as much influence as "Sybil attack". Sybil attacks are also called sock puppetry.

Garlic routing is a variant of onion routing that encrypts multiple messages together to make it more difficult for attackers to perform traffic analysis and to increase the speed of data transfer.

An anonymizer or an anonymous proxy is a tool that attempts to make activity on the Internet untraceable. It is a proxy server computer that acts as an intermediary and privacy shield between a client computer and the rest of the Internet. It accesses the Internet on the user's behalf, protecting personal information of the user by hiding the client computer's identifying information.

Tor (anonymity network) Free and open-source anonymity network based on onion routing

Tor is free and open-source software for enabling anonymous communication by directing Internet traffic through a free, worldwide, volunteer overlay network consisting of more than seven thousand relays in order to conceal a user's location and usage from anyone conducting network surveillance or traffic analysis. Using Tor makes it more difficult to trace the Internet activity to the user: this includes "visits to Web sites, online posts, instant messages, and other communication forms". Tor's intended use is to protect the personal privacy of its users, as well as their freedom and ability to conduct confidential communication by keeping their Internet activities unmonitored.

Tahoe-LAFS is a free and open, secure, decentralized, fault-tolerant, distributed data store and distributed file system. It can be used as an online backup system, or to serve as a file or Web host similar to Freenet, depending on the front-end used to insert and access files in the Tahoe system. Tahoe can also be used in a RAID-like fashion using multiple disks to make a single large Redundant Array of Inexpensive Nodes (RAIN) pool of reliable data storage.

Steven Murdoch

Steven James Murdoch is Professor of Security Engineering in the Computer Science Department, University College London. His research covers privacy-enhancing technology, Internet censorship, and anonymous communication, in particular Tor. He is also known for discovering several vulnerabilities in the EMV bank chipcard payment system and for creating Tor Browser.

Internet censorship circumvention is the use of various methods and tools to bypass internet censorship.

A distributed file system for cloud is a file system that allows many clients to have access to data and supports operations on that data. Each data file may be partitioned into several parts called chunks. Each chunk may be stored on different remote machines, facilitating the parallel execution of applications. Typically, data is stored in files in a hierarchical tree, where the nodes represent directories. There are several ways to share files in a distributed architecture: each solution must be suitable for a certain type of application, depending on how complex the application is. Meanwhile, the security of the system must be ensured. Confidentiality, availability and integrity are the main keys for a secure system.

Monero is a privacy-focused cryptocurrency released in 2014. It is an open-source protocol based on the CryptoNote application layer. It uses an obfuscated public ledger, meaning anyone can send or broadcast transactions, but no outside observer can tell the source, amount, or destination. A proof of work mechanism using the hash function RandomX is used to issue new coins and incentivize miners to secure the network and validate transactions.

Roger Dingledine American computer scientist

Roger Dingledine is an American computer scientist known for having co-founded Tor Project. A student of mathematics, computer science, and electrical engineering, Dingledine is also known by the pseudonym arma. As of December 2016, he continues in a leadership role with the Tor Project, as a project Leader, Director, and Research Director.

A wireless onion router is a router that uses Tor to connect securely to a network. The onion router allows the user to connect to the internet anonymously creating an anonymous connection. Tor works using an overlaid network which is free throughout the world, this overlay network is created by using numerous relay points created using volunteer which helps the user hide personal information behind layers of encrypted data like layers of an onion. Routers are being created using Raspberry Pi adding a wireless module or using its own inbuilt wireless module in the later versions.


  1. "Free Haven". Free Haven Project. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Dingledine, R.; Mathewson, N.; Syverson, P. (2007). "Deploying Low-Latency Anonymity: Design Challenges and Social Factors" (PDF). IEEE Security & Privacy. 5 (5): 83–87. doi:10.1109/MSP.2007.108.
  3. Jordan, Tim (2008). "The Politics of Technology: Three Types of 'Hacktivism'". In Häyhtiö, Tapio; Rinne, Jarmo (eds.). Net Working/Networking: Citizen Initiated Internet Politics. University of Tampere. p. 267. ISBN   9789514474644.
  4. Hansen, J. A. (March 2010). "Adding privacy and currency to social networking". 2010 8th IEEE International Conference on Pervasive Computing and Communications Workshops (PERCOM Workshops). 2010 8th IEEE International Conference on Pervasive Computing and Communications Workshops (PERCOM Workshops). Mannheim. pp. 607–612. doi:10.1109/PERCOMW.2010.5470508.
  5. Hermoni, O.; Gilboa, N.; Felstaine, E.; Shitrit, S. (January 2008). "Deniability — an alibi for users in P2P networks" (PDF). 3rd International Conference on Communication Systems Software and Middleware and Workshops, 2008. COMSWARE 2008. Communication Systems Software and Middleware and Workshops. pp. 310–317. doi:10.1109/COMSWA.2008.4554432 . Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  6. Dingledine, R.; Freedman, M. J. & Molnar, D. (2001). "The Free Haven Project: Distributed Anonymous Storage Service" (PDF). Lecture Notes in Computer Science 2009. Proc. Workshop on Design Issues in Anonymity and Unobservability. Springer-Verlag. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  7. Mayeba, M.; Mirembe, D. P.; Otto, F. (2007). "Analysis of Free Haven anonymous storage and publication system" (PDF). Proceedings of SREC'07, Kampala, Uganda. SREC'07. Kampala, Uganda. pp. 380–389. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  8. Chothia, T.; Chatzikokolakis, K. (2005). "A Survey of Anonymous Peer-to-Peer File-Sharing" (PDF). Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Embedded and Ubiquitous Computing – EUC 2005 Workshops. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. pp. 744–755. doi: 10.1007/11596042_77 . Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  9. Perng, G.; Reiter, M. K.; Wang, C. (June 2005). "Censorship Resistance Revisited" (PDF). Information Hiding. 7th International Workshop, IH 2005. Barcelona, Spain: Springer Berlin Heidelberg. pp. 62–76. doi:10.1007/11558859_6 . Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  10. Xiao, R. (July 2008). "Survey on Anonymity in Unstructured Peer-to-Peer Systems". Journal of Computer Science and Technology. 23 (4): 660–671. doi:10.1007/s11390-008-9162-7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-06-06.
  11. Oram, Andy (2001). Peer-to-Peer: Harnessing the Power of Disruptive Technologies . O'Reilly Media. ISBN   9780596001100.
  12. Yianilos, P. N.; Sobti, S. (September–October 2001). "The evolving field of distributed storage" (PDF). IEEE Internet Computing. 5 (5): 35–39. doi:10.1109/4236.957893. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04.
  13. Sniffen, B. T. (22 May 2000). "Trust Economies in the Free Haven Project" (PDF). Thesis. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  14. Viljanen, L. (August 2005). "Towards an Ontology of Trust" (PDF). Trust, Privacy, and Security in Digital Business. Second International Conference, TrustBus 2005. Copenhagen, Denmark: Springer Berlin Heidelberg. pp. 175–184. doi:10.1007/11537878_18 . Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  15. Oppliger, R. (October 2005). "Privacy-enhancing technologies for the world wide web". Computer Communications. 28 (16): 1791–1797. doi:10.1016/j.comcom.2005.02.003.