BitTorrent Sync

Since the cloud has been seeded with poison (see what i did there…) i’ve been deleting accounts and try to move away from centralised services. One of the things that has been done away with is Dropbox. That turned out to be rather prescient… not that things aren’t already legally pretty stupid for any US hosted service.

Mostly if there is data that people want to share it turns up in my mailbox unencrypted (and therefore backed-up by the NSA / GCHQ…), if it’s too large for that then it’ll be on Dropbox. Privacy is still way to difficult. There is literally only one person who routinely manages to send me things encrypted, be it mail, data, whatever. It’s obviously still too difficult. Even GPGMail is too much for some OS X users… some of this is the usual magical thinking stemming from, “if i’ve done nothing wrong, i’ve got nothing to hide”, while some is genuine fear about not wanting to standout by daring to communicate privately. Cowed much, citizen consumer?

People still routinely look at me like i’m insane for asking if they have the means to communicate with me privately. Even those who are communicating obviously personal / private information. Until it’s the default… losing / lost battle.


BitTorrent Sync is interesting. It’s an application / service that you run locally that allows others to securely share a directory on your machine with others. Setup is as simple as pointing the application at a directory, generating a secret key for that directory, and then sharing that key. Obviously there are the usual problems of sharing the key securely, but there is PGP (haha, see above), OTR (thanks Google for all your good work on fucking that up…), or sending a printed QR Code by regular mail… we’re so screwed! When the other parties run the application, giving it the shared secret key, they get a sync’ed copy of the directory. Changes you make to the directory (new files, changes to files, etc) will be propagated to all those with the secret. The synchronisation happens without any of the data being stored on centralised servers, which are only involved to facilitate the connectivity between the two peers – in the bittorrent sense, it’s a tracker.

The client on OS X is pretty polished, although the terms used are probably still a little jargon-ish. There is no official UI client for Linux, but there are implementations out there. As the code isn’t open, there are all the usual potentials for conspiracy, but that could be overcome by allowing additional implementations of the protocol.

My sense is that this isn’t the magic bullet for safe / secure file sharing. At least not yet, and certainly not until the channels that are needed to share the keys are secured… there are also completely open alternatives out there, but expect the experience to even poorer in terms of client support, and UI polish.

That turned into a long rant to say, “meh, it works, but not yet.”


2 thoughts on “BitTorrent Sync

  1. I still have to get around to sending you an encrypted email. I even have a browser plugin thing. Maybe I’ll email you my credit card number.

Wise words...

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