Hacktivismo, a subset of the famed Cult of the Dead Cow hacker group, will demonstrate its long-awaited Peekabooty software next month at a small peer-to-peer and network security conference in San Francisco.
There has been a lot of discussion about what exactly Peekabooty is, but Hacktivismo has been quiet on the subject, preferring to let the speculation build interest in the project. But the software will finally see the light of day at CodeCon 2002, which runs Feb. 15 through 17.
The software is designed to enable users to access Web content through distributed collaborative privacy networks, according to the groups Web site. It uses distributed computing technology to route packets through multiple nodes and to then reassemble them at the destination address. The software can also discover other nodes on the network as they become available. Some members of the network will simply relay content, while others will host it.
Peekabooty sprang out of cDcs interest in human rights and anti-censorship causes and is meant for use mainly by people in countries such as China where use of the Internet is severely restricted or forbidden. Hacktivismo members acknowledge that simply installing the Peekabooty software on their machine may put some users at risk and hint that there are ways around that problem.
"There is a clear risk associated with installing Peekabooty. But people arent stupid. If its a problem to attend a political demonstration, or sign a petition, then its probably a problem to install this program," says a description of the software on the groups Web site. "Having said that, it is not necessary to deploy Peekabooty to access the network. It is like the difference between a standard shift and an automatic car. Either way, youll get to your destination on the information highway. Pick the option that is safest for you."
Drunken Master, the creator of Peekabooty, explains the trusted node model this way: "Some users may have friends in other countries which are not censored, or they may inherently trust certain organizations or corporations. Users will be able to select the computers owned by these entities as computers they trust," he said. "In this case, the user trusts that the entity will not look at the data they are transmitting. When the user wants to fetch a web page, they connect through the Peekabooty network to a trust node, which fetches the data for them."
Hacktivismo first began work on Peekabooty in 2000 and gave attendees at last summers Def Con 9 conference a preview of the prototype code. The group has yet to set a firm release date for the software.