Proactive privacy protection with darknets - the development of umbra

Document Type



Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


New measures imposed by governments, Internet service providers and other third parties which threaten the state of privacy are also opening new avenues to protecting it. The unwarranted scrutiny of legitimate services such as file hosters and the BitTorrent protocol, once relatively unknown to the casual Internet user, is becoming more obvious. The darknet is a rising contender against these new measures and will preserve the default right to privacy of Internet users. A darknet is defined in the context of file sharing as a network which operates on top of another network such as the Internet for the purpose of secure and private distribution of digital material. While there are other darknet applications in existence, such as Freenet, WASTE again, and Relakks, they harbour some caveats. Whether they be proprietary solutions, depend on other services, are prone to feature creep or have security shortcomings, there is room for improvement. The aim of this paper is to identify and address some of the problems of these alternative darknet clients with the development of a lightweight darknet application suite Umbra. With its implementation of a strong cryptographic protocol and secure design, it is then demonstrated how its deployment can circumvent or defeat the draconian measures currently threatening privacy in the public domain.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

International Journal for Information Security Research (IJISR)