Nullsoft has released a beta version of a new tool called WASTE designed to secure communication within small groups of users. The brainchild of Winamp creator Justin Frankel, WASTE utilizes encryption and public keys to keep sensitive data hidden from prying eyes.
WASTE currently features instant messaging and chat capabilities, along with file sharing functionality with support for browsing and searching.
At the core of WASTE lies a distributed architecture that creates a web of networked hosts. Once connected to a single host, a user can then communicate with any party on the WASTE network. Firewall issues become moot as messages are routed to the appropriate party through other hosts.
WASTE lists all connected parties in a centralized buddy list. From there, users can send instant messages or create IRC-like chat rooms for communicating with multiple people. A user can also navigate and download files shared by other users, as well as initiate file transfers.
While comparisons will undoubtedly be made to Gnutella, the distributed file sharing application that Nullsoft unleashed upon the music industry three years ago, WASTE is intended to serve a different purpose.
WASTE was not built for public sharing of data, but rather private trusted groups of 10 to 50 people. Privacy is a primary focus and all network links are secured with RSA and authenticated with public key hashes. WASTE messages are then sent within an encrypted channel, making it nearly impossible for a third party to spy on users communicating via WASTE.
For additional security, WASTE includes a feature to saturate a connection at a particular rate, eliminating the possibility for a snooping party to establish how much relevant data is actually being transmitted.
Nullsoft joins the likes of Microsoft and its own parent AOL in offering a secure instant messaging solution. But WASTE is primarily targeted at those looking to communicate and share files in a completely private group environment. Nullsoft recommends WASTE for small companies and teams of employees within larger companies.
As with most of Nullsoft's recent non-Winamp projects, WASTE is licensed under the GPL and full source code is available. A stripped down server can be compiled for Linux and Mac OS X, although the client itself currently runs only on Windows. WASTE 1.0 Beta can be downloaded via FileForum.