“Loopix” is a newly developed anonymity network that can be an alternative to Tor, the popular dark web browser. The mix-based architecture of the new anonymity network was developed by researchers at the University of London.
To understand the significance of this invention, it is essential to know about Tor, which was the premier gateway for anonymous browsing until now.
Before 2015, the network was unheard of by the majority of the public. But as news about the various criminal activities flourishing in the dark web spread, the popularity and usage of the browser began to excel.
The Rise of an Anonymity Network
While the dark web has its advantages, the feature of anonymity that creates those benefits also gives others the freedom to perform nefarious activities such as the illegal sale of weapons and drugs, and even child exploitations distribution.
At the same time, the dark web also allows numerous legitimate users such as journalists, activists, whistleblowers and even law enforcement agencies to exchange information anonymously.
Within a year, the browser had grown from having 500,000 daily users from all across the globe to more than two million.
The team that created Tor first came together to research and develop anonymous and secure communication over the internet. It was first developed by the U.S. Navy with official funding from the State Department.
To provide anonymity from spying eyes, the network bounces both users and web traffic through several relays making it almost impossible to locate anyone using it. However, because of all those relays, browsing through the network is often provides a slower user experience.
Few plugins like Flash and QuickTime are also not supported by it. But these are a small price to pay for the incredible anonymity the network provides its users.
The Story of the New Anonymity Network
The new anonymity network covers traffic and Poisson, blending to help people be unseen while browsing the internet. Like Tor, Loopix is also based on the concept of mix networks.
The two popular networks for secure and anonymous online browsing are the “mix network” and “onion routing.”
Onion routing is able to provide security to the user because it makes it difficult for prying eyes to figure out where all the nodes on the web route are.
For instance, if a web route is built from a server in China to Australia to Sweden that leads to a webpage in Italy, those who are trying to spy on users might see part of the route but not the whole path itself.
However, if they are somehow able to figure out the entire route, then the security that onion routing provides falls apart completely. This makes it a very risky choice.
Mix network, on the other hand, can provide security even if the online adversary can see the whole route. It is by no means a perfect system, but it’s the most efficient one that’s available now.
Though both Loopix and its predecessor are based on the same concept, the major difference between them is that the former utilizes a more traditional message-based architecture mixed with Poisson to create irregular time delays when sending messages.
It basically hides the relationship between the sender and the receiver from third-party sources while allowing both to identify each other.
According to the University of London research team, the delay between messages is about one whole second which, while providing security, is faster than mix networks.
Interestingly, Loopix actually works very well with Tor due to their similar roots. In the new anonymity network’s architecture, the client sends the message to the provider, which then thrusts traffic into the network.
Once the messages reach, they are saved in separate inboxes and are retrieved by the clients when they come online. Hence, it actually allows the storage of offline data.
According to researchers, it can provide up to three times the security provided by traditional anonymity network browsers. They also believe that it can provide far more efficient anonymous browsing than Tor.
This is not to say that Loopix is without flaws, though. It is still very much in its infant stage. Its true merits can only be judged only after its practical application. Once it receives some traction in the online world, we will know once and for all if this new anonymity network is the future of anonymous browsing.