Achieving Scalable Anonymous Communication With Loopix

People often use a VPN service when they want to stay anonymous on the internet. However, the Tor browser is a more than viable alternative as well. It now appears a new competitor has appeared on the horizon, as Loopix wants to be a more secure alternative altogether. This network is developed by researchers from University College London and offers some interesting updates and features.

Loopix is a new Anonymity Solution

In the world of ever-increasing scrutiny and mass data collection, remaining anonymous on the internet becomes a much bigger challenge than ever before. Thankfully, there are a few ways to achieve this goal, even though not all of these options will work in every country. The Chinese government openly bans VPNs and the Tor browser in an effort to crackdown on freedom of speech and spreading misinformation.

This means there is a growing need for more anonymity solutions all over the world. Whether or not Loopix will be able to bypass the Great Firewall of China, remains to be seen. The concept has a lot of intriguing features and it also uses some parts of Tor and VPN service providers. Under the hood, Loopix is a mix network, just like Tor. With a strong focus on sending anonymous messages through a complex network, an intriguing solution is created.

In the case of Tor, anonymity is achieved through the onion routing protocol. Unfortunately, some exit nodes are monitoring traffic in an effort to deanonymize Tor users. Although this may not have major consequences for most Tor users, it is a situation that needs to be avoided whenever possible. Loopix will use a message-board architecture and Poisson mixing to add random time delays to every message broadcasted through the system.

As a result, Loopix can successfully guarantee anonymity and security while solving some drawbacks associated with more classic solutions. After all, the standard message-based architecture induces high latency, which is not a suitable concept by any means. There will still be a need for Loopix service providers similar to how the Tor network operates. Every provider will send users’ messages through the network by using random mix nodes.

Once this message arrives at the intended user’s provider, it will be stored in a message box until said person comes online. Having the option to anonymously send messages regardless of whether the other party is online is a major benefit brought to the table by Loopix.

Additionally, the messages will be encrypted through Sphinx encapsulation. This is the same format used by Tor, which further indicates how the Loopix team is taking positive aspects of existing systems to create a  better overall solution.

Although initial tests of Loopix have proven to be successful, it remains to be seen how the actual network responds when used by people all over the globe. With a lower latency, it is certainly capable of achieving real-time communication.

Scalability should not be an issue either, as the test network handles over 300 messages per second without problems. The only downside is how it has zero web-browsing capabilities whatsoever, which means it will never replace Tor entirely. It is possible such functionality will be explored later on, but for now, the focus is on communication only.

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