It's Baaaaaack: HavenCo Trying Once Again To Bring Encrypted Computing To The Masses, But Not Hosted On Sealand
from the yeah,-good-luck-with-that dept
Now, it's being reported that James Bates, grandson of Roy Bates, the "founder" of Sealand, has teamed back up with Avi Freedman, one of the initial funders of HavenCo, to relaunch the project with a focus on bringing data security to the masses. Feel free to insert whatever skepticism you have for this project right now, because you're not alone. To their credit, there are two things that are different this time around. First up, they're not trying to host the data center itself on Sealand, which was a part (just a part!) of the mess the last time around. Instead, they're just using Sealand to host air-gapped machines with encryption keys. The actual data will be encrypted, but hosted elsewhere, including in the US and EU, where they believe it will be safe because of the encryption:
Sealand still plays a role in HavenCo’s new business plan, but this time, Freedman says, HavenCo 2.0's servers are going to be based in the United States and the European Union, not stuffed into the legs of an anti-aircraft platform. (Some of the servers are even in northern Virginia, a couple dozen miles from the NSA's Maryland headquarters.) The company will use the platform to stash cold data (i.e., drives that aren't connected to the internet and don't need to be quickly accessible), including encryption keys. Without the encryption keys, the data stored on the mainland servers is all but useless, and Sealand gives HavenCo enough time to shut down their backup servers and dump the keys. "We're not advertising thermite charges or EMPs," says Freedman, but "it's a less exotic method of making the machine a cold dead box."Also, they're offering more basic tools for protecting your data, rather than trying to build out an entire utopian offshore data haven:
HavenCo 2.0 has four main components: virtual private networks (VPN), which create private networks over public ones; secure network storage; Least-Authority File System (LAFS) storage, an open-source, decentralized storage system; and web proxying, which allows users to shield their IP address by routing through other servers. The end goal is creating communications and storage that are key-encrypted from start to finish.Of course, the other big difference this time around is the NSA. Or, more specifically, the recent revelations of what the NSA has been doing. As we've been noting, there's a growing interest in greater online privacy and security, and a number of different services have been popping up lately to help provide that. Of course, that also means a lot more competition for HavenCo, and given the brand's dubious background, they may have significant difficulty getting people to bother signing up.