“An especially problematic excision of the political is the marginalization within the cryptographic community of the secure-messaging problem, an instance of which was the problem addressed by David Chaum. Secure-messaging is the most fundamental privacy problem in cryptography: how can parties communicate in such a way that nobody knows who said what. More than a decade after the problem was introduced, Rackoff and Simon would comment on the near-absence of attention being paid to the it.” (Phillip Rogaway, The Moral Character of Cryptographic Work)
The Katzenpost Free Software Project¶
Katzenpost is a free software project. We write mix network protocol libraries. What is a mix network? It is an anonymous communications system… however the word anonymous is problematic because some government authorities equate anonymity with terrorism. We prefer to instead call it “network security” because you can feel more secure when you communicate using traffic analysis resistant communications protocols.
However we realize we cannot simply write a mix network and core protocol libraries and expect people to use them. Therefore we are working towards a demonstration encrypted chat client which will communicate over our mix network.
Traffic analysis helps governments, corporations and Internet service providers learn more information about the communication even if it is encrypted. The goal of protecting the confidentiality of messages is in fact an orthogonal concern to that of resisting traffic analysis. In particular we are interested in developing mix network based communications systems that can be used by everyone to hide these kinds of communications metadata:
message sent time
message receive time
ordering of messages
frequency of sent messages
frequency of received messages
There are many message oriented applications and protocols that could benefit from using our mix network. For example our mix network is not only good for chat clients but also other types of applications:
transporting interactions between CRDTs
transporting interactions to DHTs
database transaction anonymization
‘crypto currency’ anonymization
For further discussion regarding Zcash usage with Katzenpost please see: Using Zcash with Katzenpost.
What is a mix network?¶
A mix network is a type of anonymous communication network. These resources can help you learn more:
NLnet and the NGI0 PET Fund paid for by the European Commission
See NLnet accouncement https://nlnet.nl/project/katzenpost/index.html
The Samsung Next Stack Zero grant
See Announcing the Samsung NEXT Stack Zero Grant recipients. https://samsungnext.com/whats-next/category/podcasts/decentralization-samsung-next-stack-zero-grant-recipients/
The Panoramix Project