Story 2015-11-10 T6HE RATS: the Radio Transceiver System, an open source communication tool for the security-obsessed

RATS: the Radio Transceiver System, an open source communication tool for the security-obsessed

Anonymous Coward
in security on (#T6HE)
The Internet... Who Needs It?

"As a growing number of web users have become more security-conscious, there's been an explosion of VPNs and encryption tools and other security services for the Internet. But what about a device that lets you bypass the Internet entirely? That's the goal of RATS,[1] the Radio Transceiver System, an open source communication tool for the security-obsessed and/or the Internet-bereft."

"The RATS is simple: it's a small antenna that connects to computers by USB and lets them send encrypted messages and file transfers directly, via radio transmission. There are two obvious advantages to this: firstly, it doesn't rely on any network being up or even the power staying on — as long as your laptop has some batteries, you can send and receive — and secondly, it's a level of security and privacy that trumps most of what you can do on-line. Apart from being entirely separated from the Internet, it employs AES-256 encryption with a randomized salt so even the same message sent repeatedly will produce completely different encrypted data every time.

The range of the RATS antenna is about a kilometer in a city, but it can also be connected to superior antennas and, in areas with no obstacles, achieve ranges above 5km. Obviously this means it isn't suited to everything, but alongside the Internet it could be extremely powerful for certain local applications in urban neighborhoods, workplaces, and other situations where we normally use the robust global Internet just to send short messages to people within walking distance. But perhaps more than anything it could be a boon for people living under governments that censor and monitor on-line communications, allowing local groups to coordinate without so much as touching the compromised networks."


Reply 6 comments

They've reinvented... (Score: 1)

by on 2015-11-11 05:24 (#T7D0)


Not a bad idea, actually.

Ad Hoc (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2015-11-11 12:21 (#T8D4)

It's ad hoc WiFi with better range in exchange for lower bandwidth.

That is what WiMax promised us all a decade ago: consumer level WiFi with 1km range, but it got hijacked by the wireless guys and a consumer standard/product never eventuated.

The Wikipedia page for WiMax is the most useless information source I've ever read.

Seems redundant (Score: 2, Informative)

by on 2015-11-11 13:34 (#T8KB)

A WiFi AP is $20, which can act as wireless repeater, router with dynamic routing protocols, etc.

Nearly all WiFi chips can do ad hoc mode, including routing with software. Then you just need to throw in Gnutella to allow chat and file sharing without extra infrastructure.

Re: Seems redundant (Score: 1, Interesting)

by Anonymous Coward on 2015-11-12 02:37 (#TANG)

For years I've been searching out a link I found that gave the performance of a wireless repeater mesh in an equation. I can't remember the precise equation, but it was something like P = (N(N-1))/N where N is the number of nodes. Basically, you add a node, you lose capacity as any transmission through it needs to be repeated across any number of nodes in the path, before coming back along the path, halving the bandwidth.
I don't think a mesh is as useful as people imagine it is. We'd need a serious backbone through it.

Re: Seems redundant (Score: 2, Insightful)

by Anonymous Coward on 2015-11-12 14:13 (#TC7E)

You're absolutely correct about mesh performance.

However, mesh networks provide other attractive features, such as fault tolerance and independence from established infrastructure.

The research work needed to make mesh networks a reality is based on adaptive learning, AI, and graph theory. All hard core topics in CS and maths. If we can come up with clever algorithms to ensure packets can traverse the mesh in optimal time, then mesh will become a reality. Keep in mind that any backbone (or really, multiple fast p2p links) will simply be a fast node on the mesh, and the algorithm will correctly route through (or around as required) it. In this way the mesh network can provide throughput via multiple changing backbones, but maintain its fault tolerance and independence. Interesting topic that's for sure.