I regularly frequent personal tech blogs of various tech heads around the world. A couple of days ago I stumbled upon quite an interesting article discussing the feasibility of a ‘Dark-net’ powered by a wireless mesh network that would be community operated as a method of circumventing censorship.
Personally I find the idea of a mesh network quite intriguing, this ‘mesh’ of nodes that are wirelessly interconnected allowing data to flow in any direction via any route possible. This topology has quite a bit of redundancy built into it, counting on the fact that two or more nodes are within range of each other so as if a node were to go down, there would still be an alternate path for the data to flow in.
I have always pictured this kind of network being used to bring a city like Christchurch back online in times of diaster, with a dozen routers with battery packs scattered around the CBD, forming this massive mesh network for anyone and everyone to connect to and contact friends and family. (Something I want to work on in the future…)
Anyway, getting back to what I was actually trying to say, I stumbled across this article written by Shaddi Hasan on his personal blog investigating and reporting on the feasibility on using a mesh network to form a dark-net, for circumventing censorship.
Hasan’s article outlined many reasons why this type of network would not operate properly including the management of the network, the nature of omni directional antennas and how they are a waste of power for long distance communication, and the fact that cheap consumer equipment can only send or receive at one time.
Focusing on the latter, the majority of wireless equipment sold to consumers is only single radio, meaning it can only transmit or receive at one time and due to the nature of TCP data transmission, whereby all data sent waits for acknowledgement, this would effectively bring the entire network to a standstill if the packet had to travel over a certain amount of nodes to reach its destination. Sure, as the article also outlines, you could use multi-radio nodes but this had its own inherent problems, not to mention cost.
That is the article in a bit of a nutshell so head over to Hasan’s blog and read the rest of it!