I recently introduced a few friends to Mastodon and tried to explain why I think its a step forward. Others have hinted at this all too.
There are many issues they face and some are highlighted in a blog post I wrote a while ago when talking about mastodon. But recently I had a interesting discussion about a part of the decentralised web I’ve not had for a while. Lack of censorship of dangerous & in some places illegal content.
This might seem as quite a shock to a lot people use to the moderation/gatekeeping of centralised platforms, especially while browsing through the list of mastodon servers to join.
Generally a lot of the people in the Dweb (decentralised web) world understand the advantages and disadvantages of decentralised based systems including this. But it can come as a shock to others who have rarely come across anything like this. I would say this is like the red light district in Amsterdam. Its there if you want it, its better/safer for the those involved and its easier for law enforcement to do their job. Consider this happens regardless is important to note.
Of course it totally depends on the media, content, etc… Theres a sliding scale from stuff which is totally illegal to things which are more questionable depending on your culture, faith, etc. Mastdon has ways to not just filter but also block and ban things. The join an instance is ideal because it sets the tone and makes explicit the rules of whats tolerated and whats not. This gives transparency to the users and should stop things like the Facebook blocking breastfeeding policy.
I do understand its off putting to new Dweb users but like the Cloudflare daily stormer censorship or the British porn block, theres a serious lesson to be learned. Lets not kid ourselves, simply hiding it or pushing it underground will ultimately make things worst for everyone. Law enforcement works much better when there’s cultural and societal norm against the something. This is why the war on drugs has been and always will be a unwinnable war.
Mozilla’s IRL podcast has a episode which is along the same lines and worth listening to.
Some people believe that decentralization is the inevitable future of the web. They believe that internet users will start to demand more privacy and authenticity of information online and that they’ll look to decentralized platforms to get those things. But would decentralization be as utopian as advocates say it could be?
What is Hamachi?
Hamachi is a UDP-based virtual private networking system. Its peers utilize the help of a 3rd node called mediation server to locate each other and to boot strap the connection between themselves. The connection itself is direct and once it's established no traffic flows through our servers.
Hamachi is not just truly peer-to-peer, it is verifiably secure peer-to-peer.
Believe it or not, but we are able to successfully mediate p2p connections in roughly 97% of all cases we dealt with so far (few tens of thousands as of early March). This includes peers sitting behind different firewalls and/or broadband routers (aka NAT devices).
Oh my goodness, if you have not tried out Hamachi and want access to your home network from elsewhere. You need to try it out! I heard it about it ages ago but dismissed it because I didnt really see the need. Well that was before I learned about how insecure Wifi can be. So during hearing this week's Security Now podcast
I spent a hour checking out Hamachi. At the moment it runs on Windows and Linux but after verison 1.0 (there currently 0.99) it will be developed for the Mac too. I dont see why you cant run the Linux version on a Mac command line but I'm sure there is a reason. So anyhow once you got it installed you can follow the Wizard which is a little too simple but good for those not deeply into networking, its easy to escape at anytime.
Once your setup its just a matter of making a new network or joining another one. You can easily make one and the the security is then all hanged off your stupidly impossible to crack password. GRC recommends some 63 character password string which can be generated here at the High security password generator. I actually went for a stupid 96 ASCII character password with all types of characters. I'll switch it down to 63 because Hamachi uses a 256bit AES crypto for authentication. After setting the password and name of the network you can go to another machine and do the same but this time hit join and enter the same details.
Before you know it your on a new type of network. Actually a 5.x.x.x IP address. I didnt even know you could actually have one of those for a network, I always thought 10.x.x.x was the lowest things went. Ok so once you got two machines on the same p2p network your away. I was able to tunnel out of my work network and on my own computer at home and launch VNC and access the net and machines attached to the same physical network. Everything is accessable and the speed is amazing. Oh yeah by the way, I only had to open one port on Smoothwall for it to work, most firewalls and NAT environments can be traversed without opening ports and port forwarding according to the Hamachi creators. I did nothing to the work network, like Skype it just worked. Crazy but true. I also tried using Hamachi with some of the sniffing tools out there and glad to say it works perfectly. All traffic is secured and even insecure connections like POP3 retrivial can not be discovered as it all looks like normal web traffic. Honestly I cant wait for version 1.0 of Hamachi. Its solved so many of my problems its untrue.