aDTN - Undetectable communication in wireless delay-tolerant networks

aDTN is a network layer protocol for wireless delay-tolerant communication that ensures that an external attacker cannot link network participants to each other nor to the messages they send. In fact, they would not even know if a network participant is actually communicating or forwarding messages, or if she is just sending cover traffic. This property is called undetectability.

Anonymity is achieved by hiding the path of the messages by propagating them through trust groups. A trust group is a set of users that trust each other. For example, you and your siblings would probably be a trust group, you and your best friend another trust group. Users of a group cannot follow the path of a message inside another group, but users in more than one group can relay messages from one group to the other.

Eventually, messages are propagated through the entire network. Each device has a database of all the communication sent in the network. The messages can be used in various applications. For now, we only have tested a simple messaging app, but a publish-subscribe system or forum could be possible, too.

External attackers cannot correlate traffic and determine who is sending messages to whom. An internal attacker would only be able to cause limited damage: only the users in the group of an attacker can have their identities exposed. However, even in that scenario, the attacker would not be able to prove that they are the original senders of the message, nor the intended recipients.

If you want to read the system description, it is linked below.

System description

The system is described in a technical report, "aDTN - Undetectable Communication in Wireless Delay-tolerant Networks", August 2015. A protocol specification will follow soon (before the end of 2015).

The previous working drafts where I collected my ideas for the protocol are listed below:

Python implementation

I have implemented the aDTN protocol in Python 3. The module allows one to send and receive anonymous messages within an ad-hoc network.

The code and usage instructions can be found on Github:

Android application

During the summer semester of 2015 a team of four students implemented the aDTN protocol on Android and built a simple messaging app on top of it. It supports public as well as private messages.

The code is available on GitHub.

If you wish to contribute to the project, write me an email or join our mailing list

Simulator code

I wrote a simulator to evaluate the network performance using real-world mobility data. You can find more details on our software page and download it from GitHub.

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