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Hacktivist group cDc to unveil Veilid encryption for privacy-first apps

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Cult of the Dead Cow, a renowned group of technology activists, known for their previous exploits of distributing hacking tools and compelling software companies to fortify their security, have shifted their attention towards safeguarding user privacy. They revealed a coding framework named Veilid, designed to enable the creation of messaging and social networking apps that do not store users’ data.

Veilid offers strong encryption and encourages app developers to forego revenue from targeted advertising, which relies on collecting detailed user profiles from commonly used apps, as reported by The Washington Post. The new system, upon the principles of existing free products such as Signal, known for secure text messaging and voice calls, and Tor, ensures anonymous web surfing through traffic rerouting to obscure users’ locations.

The innovative Veilid protocol facilitates fully encrypted content transfer between applications, ensuring end-to-end encryption that even governments find challenging to intercept. By adopting a decentralised peer-to-peer network, Veilid allows devices to share the network load, leading to enhanced speed as more devices join.

Despite its potential, Veilid faces the challenge of attracting developers to create apps compatible with the framework. As it does not allow detailed data collection, the scope for revenue streams through targeted ads is limited. However, proponents of Veilid believe its emphasis on privacy aligns with current trends among users who seek alternatives to mainstream social networks, expressing concerns over privacy infringements and government access to data.

Veilid is based on the principles of Signal and Tor.

The Veilid project emerges as the most significant release from Cult of the Cow in over a decade. This leading U.S. hacking group is credited with coining “hacktivism”. The group boasts influential cybersecurity figures, including Peiter Zatko (Mudge) and Christien Rioux, pioneers in discovering and disclosing security flaws in widely used software.

The Veilid project has already drawn praise from civil rights groups, who believe it can move society beyond the surveillance-based business model. However, law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, often express concerns that end-to-end encryption hampers their ability to detect criminal plots and recover evidence.

Despite its potential, Veilid must tackle issues such as content moderation, where its full encryption approach may hinder identifying harmful interactions. Nevertheless, the Veilid team remains optimistic, aiming to garner support from privacy-centric users and developers at the upcoming Def Con hacking conference.

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Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here: [email protected]

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