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Wireless Networks That Build Themselves

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the quit-draining-my-battery dept.

Communications 56

ScienceDaily has an interesting article that looks at ad-hoc wireless networks and how they might be even more useful on a large scale. The RUNES project is featured as an example of software projects that might be able to make mobile devices that form self-organizing wireless networks to help promote this goal. "RUNES set out to create middleware: software that bridges the gap between the operating systems used by the mobile sensor nodes, and high-level applications that make use of data from the sensors. RUNES middleware is modular and flexible, allowing programmers to create applications without having to know much about the detailed working of the network devices supplying the data. This also makes it easy to incorporate new kinds of mobile device, and to re-use applications."

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Responsibility (3, Funny)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22754570)

What happens if your mobile device forms a node over which someone else gets child porn?

Re:Responsibility (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22754604)

What happens when the mobile devices get together and watch "Terminator"?

Re:Responsibility (2, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22754694)

What happens when they start getting included in major routing tables and when a backbone goes down, a lot of data's going to start moving through people's devices.. just think of slashdot, no secure login..

Re:Responsibility (2, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22754748)

Encryption still works the same over this sort of network...Doesn't matter if someone in the middle reads your public key, the communication is still encrypted.

Still, I was thinking encryption would be necessary for basic privacy...Something like Tor, where you don't know who is requesting what data. Otherwise it'd be too easy to figure out who was downloading what porn in your neighborhood.

Re:Responsibility (1)

Asm-Coder (929671) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755264)

Yes encryption will still work, but some websites (read Slashdot) do not have secure login facilities available.

Re:Responsibility (2, Interesting)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755670)

What happens when they start getting included in major routing tables and when a backbone goes down, a lot of data's going to start moving through people's devices.. just think of slashdot, no secure login..


What's your point? The regular backbone is operated by the telecom industry, which has demonstrated willingness to open it up to the government even when that is in direct violation of existing law. Your unencrypted content isn't safe no matter who owns the network it travels over (unless you control both endpoints and all the systems in between.)

Its not that you should feel like your private data is secure traveling over a network whose backbone is made up of random mobile devices, just that you shouldn't feel that it is safe on a network whose backbone is controlled by AT&T, Qwest, Verizon, etc., either.

Re:Responsibility (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 6 years ago | (#22758316)

What's your point? The regular backbone is operated by the telecom industry, which has demonstrated willingness to open it up to the government even when that is in direct violation of existing law. Your unencrypted content isn't safe no matter who owns the network it travels over (unless you control both endpoints and all the systems in between.)
That's the "environmental monitoring" feature cited in the article I presume.

Re:Responsibility (1)

guardiangod (880192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755954)

You will get many badly imitated "Hasta la vista" in pseudo-Assuie accent.

Re:Responsibility (1)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 6 years ago | (#22754630)

What happens if your mobile device forms a node over which someone else gets child porn?
You're fucked?

Re:Responsibility (5, Interesting)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#22754676)

What happens if your mobile device forms a node over which someone else gets child porn?

FTFA:Applications include emergency management, security, helping vulnerable people to live independently, traffic control, warehouse management, and environmental monitoring.

I really don't see this protocol, at first anyway, being used for consumer devices. I'm sure someone will find an application for it, but I don't see the need in the near term. And, I would assume, there would have to be some sort of identifier of the sender and ultimate receiver like TCP/IP has in its protocol.

Re:Responsibility (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22754722)

Nothing. Common carrier.

The day when this becomes real will be the day that traditional ISPs die. The only way to reliably monitor the traffic will be some kind of "seeding" where the monitor-er will put out relays that monitor the traffic that passes across them.

I think this is really possible in the long run, but in the short run I don't think most things have sufficient computing or broadcast power to make it a reality. Cool that they're working on it though.

Re:Responsibility (2, Interesting)

sltd (1182933) | more than 6 years ago | (#22754778)

I don't know that it would completely kill ISP's. There are some people who live in really remote places, or at least too far for this kind of a network to be worthwhile. Some areas still don't even get broadband access, because there aren't enough computers for it to be viable. Would the people in these areas just be cut off?

Re:Responsibility (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22754846)

Yep.

Heh. No I have no idea; I'd imagine that repeaters would be set up in a lot of places, just to lighten the load on consumer devices. How they'd be funded, I have no idea. It'll all depend on the eventual power consumption, and what parts of the spectrum are used.

Re:Responsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22755094)

how about through taxes (assuming minimal corruption). not local govts contracting it out but state govts owning and operating them.

Re:Responsibility (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755116)

I'm in favor of that for hard lines, so obviously I think it's great for wireless too. At this point having telecoms owning all of our information architecture is getting pretty scary.

payments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22755304)

"How they'd be funded, I have no idea." I do. Charge the urban areas a heckuva lot more for their incredibly cheap subsidized water, still cheap food (although that is changing rapidly, finally some fairer prices out there), and delivered electricity and natural gas, all (most, anyway) of which comes from the rural areas.

End the stealth internal colonial exploitation and a lot more rural people would be able to adequately afford broadband or mesh networks, etc. No handouts needed, just pay a fair trade price rather than mooch off the government seizing assets basically at gunpoint and transferring them cheaply where more concentrated votes live.

Re:Responsibility (1)

j1m+5n0w (749199) | more than 6 years ago | (#22758148)

Ad-hoc routing doesn't get around the need for ISPs; someone has to have a gateway to the Internet. (And as long as ad-hoc routing doesn't scale up to networks of billions of nodes rather than hundreds or maybe thousands, we're going to have to peer with the Internet somehow.) ISPs may have fewer customers, since a lot of them will be leeching off of their neighbors, but most people who can afford it are probably going to go ahead and pay for their access, since it's faster (multihop wireless networks aren't known for their speed), and there's someone they can blame if it breaks, and they might not have any neighbors willing to share. That's just how people are (at least in the suburban wasteland where I live).

Computing power isn't that big of an issue; I have five consumer-grade wireless routers running OpenWRT with the OLSR routing protocol, and most of them have 16 megs of ram, 4 megs of flash, and about a 200 mhz processor or so. OLSR doesn't scale very well (at least according to what I've read - I don't have enough routers to test), but it should work pretty good for networks of a few dozen nodes at least. For city-wide networks, you'll need something better. OLSR is link-state. Distance vector algorithms like AODV and DSR are less resource-intensive. CPU and memory are less likely to be bottlenecks, but routing overhead is probably the limiting factor.

High transmit power would be nice, but regular 802.11 gear can go surprisingly far with the right antennas. It's also important that all the radios aren't drowning each other out. (There are topology control algorithms to adapt transmit power automatically. I'm not sure if any are widely used.)

Re:Responsibility (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#22759012)

Nothing. Common carrier.

The common carrier is an organization or enterprise that provides messaging services to the general public.

It is not about the tech.

It is not a defense against trade in pornography that you can claim by right.

You are a common carrier if - and only if - you meet the statutory definition and requirements and your conduct remains within the law.

The geek is far, far, too enamored with the idea that technical competence - technical innovation - puts him out of the reach of the law. The rule has its origins in Western Union's nineteenth century policy of censoring telegrams it felt were against its own interests.

Re:Responsibility (1)

navtal (943711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755054)

1.Create a wireless P2P network. Every device is a wireless router.

2.Give it a hardwired bandwidth so it dose not overwhelm the users bandwidth.

3.Give it two completely different network cards. One for the users needs and one for the wireless routers roll to secure the users or the network from being attacked or corrupted by each other.

4.Create appropriate legislation protecting information carriers from the actions of the distributors and producers of illegal content.

5.????

6.Profit

Re:Responsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22755184)

You sit at your computer in comfortable chair and say that, when you should be at the the gates of the whitehouse demanding an end to madness of a genocide bought with your taxes? If all of us had to exercise moral responsibility over the evils in which we unwittingly partake, who do you think right now is the biggest and most guilty coward?

You know nothing of responsibility.

Re:Responsibility (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755270)

You sit at your computer in comfortable chair and say that, when you should be at the the gates of the whitehouse demanding an end to madness of a genocide bought with your taxes?

I don't pay American taxes. I divide my time between Finland and Romania.

Re:Responsibility (1)

bemo56 (1251034) | more than 6 years ago | (#22757540)

Wasn't the OLPC supposed to come with a wireless network that achieved this already? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OLPC_XO-1#Wireless_mesh_networking [wikipedia.org]

Such a thing could easily be implemented by a piece of software running on everyones laptop, think of it like P2P only with FREE INTERNET!!!!

Hmmn, Seems I have found myself a coding project.

P.s. how do i start a new thread instead of always replying to first? :S n00b :P

Re:Responsibility (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 6 years ago | (#22758320)

Wasn't the OLPC supposed to come with a wireless network that achieved this already? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OLPC_XO-1#Wireless_mesh_networking [wikipedia.org]



Such a thing could easily be implemented by a piece of software running on everyones laptop, think of it like P2P only with FREE INTERNET!!!!



Hmmn, Seems I have found myself a coding project.

/quote>
Since it has already been coded and is GPL, why do you want to recode it ??

Re:Responsibility (1)

bemo56 (1251034) | more than 6 years ago | (#22759202)

Since it has already been coded and is GPL, why do you want to recode it ??

Well that wouldn't be as fun, although i have to admit i overlooked that :P

I'll bet.... (3, Interesting)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#22754610)

...that malware writers will LOVE this. Free propagation, just add mesh!

Re:I'll bet.... (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 6 years ago | (#22754810)

Nah. I bet this could be designed in such a way that NAT still exists behind the router; the routed traffic can't actually get into the internal network of the users' PCs and devices unless they've specifically port-forwarded something in the router. Most malware worms spread by exploiting holes in Windows' WINS / file and printer sharing / etc. and if these ports are closed, there's no way they can get in (without breaking the router).

Re:I'll bet.... (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#22757470)

I bet this could be designed in such a way that NAT still exists behind the router; the routed traffic can't actually get into the internal network of the users' PCs and devices unless they've specifically port-forwarded something in the router.

The idea of multiple propagation routes for malware of all types {and in which category I also lump viruses...} has already been done... [f-secure.com]

Re:I'll bet.... (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22754884)

It'd be no different than IPv6, with every node available.

No mistake, in the long run we're going to have to have significant advances in security, because we won't be able to segregate every vulnerable machine behind a big security infrastructure.

in the words of bender.. (0)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 6 years ago | (#22754632)

neat

Recipe for Cash (4, Insightful)

uberhobo_one (1034544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22754756)

Step 1: Set up a node(s) at the very edge of a mesh network. Step 2: Install software to execute a man in the middle attack. Step 3: Wait for someone to connect to you alone. Step 4: Wait for that someone to connect to their bank. Step 5: Drain their account. It'll take some clever protocols to prevent abuse if this ever gets used as a standard consumer network protocol, but it should do wonders for emergency services.

Re:Recipe for Cash (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22754820)

Wouldn't the bank still have their signed key? How is this different than the situation now, where you could sit at a coffee shop and impersonate a free router?

Though I guess people might just accept any old key that gets thrown their way, ignoring the warning that comes up...

Re:Recipe for Cash (3, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22754822)

Just because someone routes traffic through your node, doesn't mean you can read it. A man in the middle attack across encryption requires that people accept unsecured certificates, which happens often enough, but it's not a slam dunk by any stretch. Theoretically they could try to screw with the PKI, but that would involve breaking their keys, and if you could do that, then stealing someone's bank info would be trivial.

The great thing about public key crypto is that the key that is visible is meant to be.

Re:Recipe for Cash (2, Informative)

mrogers (85392) | more than 6 years ago | (#22754850)

If only SSL had been designed to make man-in-the-middle attacks impossible. Oh wait, it was! Your browser contains root certificates that are used to verify that your bank's certificate hasn't been replaced or modified by an attacker. MITM attack against SSH? Maybe, if you don't check the key fingerprint (and I doubt anyone does). MITM attack against SSL? No chance, unless the server has a self-signed certificate, something no bank would consider.

Please consider... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755756)

...that a few years back, it was widely reported that someone was able to get Verisign to provide them with Microsoft's server-side certificates. I don't think it was ever really said how long the rogue copies were in the wild before action was taken. I can't see banks ever admitting to their security being compromised in such a way.

Having said that, phishing is still described as highly successful, social engineering is usually described as highly effective, and there are probably a few places where wardiallers can access unsecured lines to financial computer systems. Besides which, most people are lousy at securing their home computers, so I suspect that most attackers aiming at individuals would use keystroke loggers embedded in viruses or placed on a machine after using some public script. Most homes are not secure, either, so you could do just about as well with a powerful receiver and decoder for the output of computer monitors. People are often very bad about destroying sensitive documents, which is why dumpster diving is also said to be very effective.

In short, why would anyone hang around on the edge and wait for a single victim, when that would be slower and riskier than any of the alternatives, and produce just one possibility versus hundreds or thousands for the others?

Re:Recipe for Cash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22757004)

It should be noted that MITM only easily works against ssh the first time you connect. After the first time, your computer caches the fingerprint. If the fingerprint doesn't match on a later session, ssh puts up a big and scary warning with no option to make it go away besides manually editing the fingerprint cache. This will also forces an attacker who pulls an MITM on the first connection to keep doing it if he wants it to remain secret. It's not quite as secure as root-signed SSL certificates but it's still quite secure.

Re:Recipe for Cash (1)

mrogers (85392) | more than 6 years ago | (#22758766)

I have no idea why you got modded down for that, it's a good point. The same applied to self-signed certificates if you save them the first time.

Re:Recipe for Cash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22759308)

I didn't get modded down, I think slashdot has made all ACs start out at -1 now.

Re:Recipe for Cash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22758070)

Your post echoes exactly the kind of objections people had to TCP/IP networks.

What? Computers forwarding packets for other computers, for free? That's crazy! It'll never work; imagine the security issues!

Uh, in case you haven't been following along, the Internet actually works.

ISP-less internet topology (2, Insightful)

Prysorra (1040518) | more than 6 years ago | (#22754826)

The internet was designed to route around bottlenecks and network damage. ISP control is a type of bottleneck regardless of the amount of bandwidth.

Thus a natural progression to further decentralization is exactly what is happening. Expect to see ISP trying to pressure legislators to ban this kind of technology, and spreading FUD about.

Re:ISP-less internet topology (1)

irregular_hero (444800) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755050)

The Internet has proven to be more than slightly "put off" by a well placed boat anchor, I think.

A more correct statement would be: Due to the extremely high traffic loads some core links carry and the inability for backups to primary network paths to keep up with the growth rate of network traffic, the internet was designed to limp around shouting "ow, ow, ow!" around bottlenecks and network damage while IT staff groan about another sleepless night of babysitting outsourcing engagements whose bandwidth is currently sucking seawater.

Re:ISP-less internet topology (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755736)

"The Internet has proven to be more than slightly "put off" by a well placed boat anchor, I think."
oh? everyone seems to still have access. Which incident are you referring to the brought down the internet?

Re:ISP-less internet topology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22758304)

well, there already is software to do isp-less networks... just look at netsukuku [freaknet.org] or dart [ucr.edu] ...

but the real problem is not that isp would kill those applications... instead, problem is security, since -like some slashdotters already pointed out- you can always rewrite the app, just like someone already did with tor [slashdot.org] ....

RUNES Homepage (4, Informative)

sconeu (64226) | more than 6 years ago | (#22754848)

Runes Homepage [ist-runes.org] for those who want more depth.

What a Wireless Sensor Node is: (3, Informative)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22754866)

A wireless sensor node like the Tmote Sky [sentilla.com] (pdf) is a very tiny embedded computer that runs on 2 AA batteries, and is usually the size of the back of the 2 AA battery holder. They have a radio on it, but the radio isn't compatible with 802.11b instead compatible with 802.15.4 [wikipedia.org] , and is limited to about 256kbps. The Tmote Sky has a 8MHz 8-bit processor (the Atmega 128), 10KiB of ram, 1024KiB of flash, with a few A-D inputs and some digital outputs. It isn't exactly very fast, nor does it have a bunch of ram.

It is designed for a distributed sensor platform, and not doing a lot of computation.

A picture of one is here [flickr.com] , connected to a 14-foot USB cable.

Re:What a Wireless Sensor Node is: (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755152)

Replying to myself to add some more information about the Tmote Sky and similar wireless sensor nodes:

The main problem with these sensor nodes right now is mainly that they are just way too expensive for what they are, at $140 each. Since any application of them is in large numbers to get around the 10-meter radio range, it gets very expensive quickly to do anything really useful with them. That is $140 for a device that doesn't have a screen, case, keyboard or external antenna.

The goal is to get the cost under $1 per unit, which would allow them to be used in larger numbers. Right now people are developing OSs and software for them with the idea that they will become much cheaper in the future.

(Detailed picture with annotations on the components here [flickr.com]

Whats in a name... (2, Interesting)

Darth Eggbert (175584) | more than 6 years ago | (#22754936)

I came up with a concept one night for a Fractaly Organized Nearby Transient Area Interface NEtwork (FONTAINE) in which each device had 3 Transceivers which would connect to a different device on the network, which in turn connected to 3 other devices etc. it would be infinitely scaleable and each device would carry a map of all the connections in the network. Once logged into the network your device would constantly search out the strongest signals and update transceivers one at a time. If one node gets overloaded it would send a signal to the other nodes to shift paths. Internet access would require stable nodes that have a high bandwidth or even more than 3 transceivers. If each device contains basically its own 3 port router you can expand networks in say a convention center with out running into a capacity problem. This would also work well for a mobile communication device in a densely populated city.

Feel free to use the concept, but please keep the name.

The Eggman

Re:Whats in a name... (1)

irregular_hero (444800) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755004)

"Infinitely scalable" AND "carry a map of all the connections in the network"? As # nodes approaches infinity, the number of map entries would approach, what... infinity ^ 3? And the amount of memory needed to store a, say, 128 byte record of each routepath would require memory on the order of infinity ^ (3 * 128)?

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Not so simple (2, Interesting)

stevedcc (1000313) | more than 6 years ago | (#22754940)

The article talks about everything from motes to handhelds, all on the same network. I work for a company that has a low-bandwidth low-power sensor node product, selling software to hardware makers, and hardware for prototyping purposes. The requirements vary so much from sensor-only devices to handhelds, that any product catering for both would be inherently compromised. Does your handheld want to work with a network that has a total bandwidth like modems from 20 years ago, shared between all the nodes? Is it really concerned with keep power emissions so low that it can stay on that network for 10 years, powered by batteries? how about a sensor attached to your radiator?



Techies tend to think about what CAN be done with a certain technology, but sometimes we try and generalise too far

Zigbee (2, Interesting)

us7892 (655683) | more than 6 years ago | (#22755016)

Sounds like open standard *Zigbee* http://zigbee.org/ [zigbee.org] networks. Been hearing about Ember http://ember.com/ [ember.com] chipsets and self-healing, self-discovery wireless mesh networks for a few years now. Pretty quiet as of late.

Yuo Fai7 Ite.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22755126)

could saVe it your 0wn towel in

L2R was doing this over 5 years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22756962)

L2R is a communications protocol designed and written over 5 years ago and was already doing all this then.

Plus it has a patent, and was shown to the companies behind this technology who all signed an NDA and a non-compete.

So now they go ahead and rip-off all that technology.

mmm, methinks a lawsuit is in the works!

Some links (1)

klapaucjusz (1167407) | more than 6 years ago | (#22757026)

Some links, if you want to learn more, including some astroturfing:

DSDV [wikipedia.org]
OLSR [olsr.org]
AODV [wikipedia.org]
Babel [jussieu.fr] .

Terminator has to kill this concept (0)

LM741N (258038) | more than 6 years ago | (#22757072)

If you have watched the Terminator movies you know that it was self organizing and linked computers that became sentient (sort of) and decided to kill off the human race. Truth is stranger than fiction. Nowadays I guess they can just link up all the voting machines and pick a computer as a write in President.

Peer to peer mesh networks are a dead end (1)

flip314 (1248968) | more than 6 years ago | (#22757944)

Although TFA doesn't say whether these are peer-to-peer networks, I suspect they are. The best theoretical aggregate bandwidth you can get out of a set of mesh-connected peers scales as sqrt(n) in the number of nodes, which isn't that great. In most practical mesh systems, the total bandwidth goes DOWN as you add peers. Until somebody figures out a better way to organize ad-hoc mesh networks, they really won't be all that useful for most applications.

nonzero bandwidth better than zero bandwidth (1)

j1m+5n0w (749199) | more than 6 years ago | (#22758178)

Any bandwidth greater than zero over a multi-hop link is an improvement over the status quo, in which that sort of thing typically just isn't supported. Ad-hoc networks are slow (I'm not sure where the sqrt(n) comes from), but they are very practical in situations where a star topology isn't practical, and you want something that just works, right now, without a lot of manual configuration.

SciFi tiem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22765524)

since we had a virus that installs ubuntu,
why can't we have a virus that sets up a wifi network with nearby devices and tries to infect them in the same manner?
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