Snake: a new way to communicate, collaborate and share privately

An end-to-end encrypted communication platform that is easy to use and protects your privacy from evil hackers, storage providers and overly curious governments
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Alessandro Di Federico
Technology
Milan
Italy
3 Team Members




Key features

Messaging

Snake allows both one-to-one and many-to-many communications. The first form of communication is possible after a relationship between two users has been established, while the second form is handled as groups. As opposed to previous end-to-end encrypted systems such as PGP, group communication and management are handled in a scalable and efficient way. Snake supports both instantaneous and asynchronous messaging (i.e. messages are delivered even if the other is not online).

Collaborate

Thanks to existing technologies such as WebODF, Snake will let its users edit collaboratively and in real-time documents using standard and open formats, compatible with the most widespread office suites such as Microsoft Office or LibreOffice. Snake is the first system offering the possibility to collaborate on a document in an end-to-end encrypted environment providing strong privacy guarantees and following the security-by-design principle.

Share files

Snake will also allow to share pictures, videos and other media with the same convenience of classical picture sharing websites, but with technical guarantees that only the intended recipients will be able to actually see them, not even the storage provider will have access to them.
Moreover, thanks to WebRTC, peer-to-peer file sharing will also be available with the same privacy features.

Privacy

The key point of Snake is privacy. The system is designed to store all your data on a server in encrypted form. This server, which is part of a network of cooperating servers, is dumb, meaning that its only role is storing and serving encrypted data. The client takes care of encrypting and decrypting everything on the fly in a way that is completely transparent to the user. This gives the user technical guarantees that every contents he posts will be available exclusively to its intended recipient: not even the storage server or whoever has access to it will be able to read the contents.
Moreover, our implementation of the server software guarantees anonymity of data, which means that in case of seizure of the server or break-in by evil hackers, not only the contents of your messages will be protected, but also their metadata. For instance, it won't be even possible to understand who is the sender or the recipient of a message, or whether two users are friends or not. We also put a very big effort in keeping all of this usable, in particular we handle authentication of user identities in an unobtrusive way, while most alternative solutions either ignore the problem or require to meet the other user in person.

Portability

Snake is completely written in JavaScript and makes use of standard technologies (such as the WebCrypto API), therefore it will work in all major browsers and, thanks to technologies such as PhoneGap, also on most mobile platforms. In particular we aim to fully support Android- and iOS-based devices.

Open Source

After the closed beta, all the source code will be released open-source under AGPL and probably MIT licenses. This is a fundamental requirement for our system architecture which encourages multiple entities to host and distribute our client.

Who we are

We're a small group of (ex-)students from Politecnico di Milano, in Italy, members of POuL, a student's association supporting Free Software and the GNU/Linux operating system and of the Tower of Hanoi hacking team, which frequently participates in international CTF competitions.

Alessandro Di Federico  Core developer

I love cryptography, programming (mostly web development recently) and studying & breaking existing software, in particular I really like reverse engineering. My most prominent current dream is to contribute to the creation of a Web 2.0 which respects users' privacy, this is why I started to work on Snake. I am a super-happy Gentoo user, the ex-president of POuL and now and then an hitchhiker.

Michele Beretta  Core developer

It's me Michele! I also share Alessandro's passion for MGS even though I prefer Nintendo's classic games. With Alessandro I started to consider all the privacy problematics that are rising in recent years and now I'm working with him to bring to life Snake. I like to understand how things work and my passion is mainly programming (especially with scripting languages), sometimes I also like to play with electronic circuits. I'm a very proud Debian user.

Riccardo Binetti  Social media manager

I study for my Ms.C. and currently I'm the president of POuL. I'm a big fan of crowdfunding campaigns so I offered my advise to Mik and Ale because I think that privacy is a very big issue that many people don't take seriously enough. My biggest passions are programming (especially on embedded systems), electronics and music, which I try to produce using everything from a guitar to a Game Boy. I'm a fairly stable Debian user with a love-hate relationship with Arch.

Updates

Here we will post news about our project or from our blog, keep an eye on it.

What We Need & What You Get

What we need

We're collecting money to fulfill the following roadmap:

Summer 2014
Closed beta (look at the "Early access" perk!)
Autumn 2014
Open beta
End of 2014
First stable release

This is our action plan depending on how much we raise:

Less than 50 k€
Work on it full time as long as possible, then work on it part-time. The above deadlines likely won't be met.
More than 50 k€
The two core developers will work on it full-time, we will collaborate now and then with an external designer.
More than 75 k€
We will be able to have a full time designer, which will result in a much more pleasant user interface.
More than 100 k€
We will be able to work longer than a year on the project, this means that in a reasonable time we will release also exciting plugins such as a secure file sharing application and the first privacy-aware online collaborative office suite.

We received very attractive job offers recently, however we seriously believe in Snake and we want to be able to put all our energies into it as long as possible, the only thing we need is something to eat and enough caffeine. That's what you're paying for!

What you get

OK, let's get serious, what do you get? Take a look at the perks, you can easily get:

  • A fancy custom wallpaper featuring your neighbourhood on the PGP's Web of Trust if you're a PGP user, or just a random part of it. It will look like this graph but with labels for your friend's names.
  • A permanent recognition on Snake's website.
  • A marvellous postcard from Italy, handwritten, with our most sincere thanks.
  • Exclusive access to the closed beta for you and 10 friends.
  • Exclusive access to our private git repo since the end of the campaign.
  • Stickers, T-Shirts or mugs featuring Snake's logo.
  • A gorgeous bouquet of flowers, directly at home (if your country is reached by InterFlora).
  • A wonderful 3D print of our logo you can keep on your desk.
  • A meeting with us in Milan, we pay the beers.

Note: all the perks are cumulative, e.g. if you pay 53 € you will get early access but also the postcard, the recognition on the website and the wallpaper!

What's the current status?

We've been working hard on it for several months, we now have serious design document and about 20k lines of code of the prototype implementation. The current implementation has faced most of the technically challenging issues on the backend, in particular from the cryptographic point of view. From the frontend, it is now possible to register, establish relationships with other users, exchange messages privately, create groups and post messages to groups: it's minimally working, however it still need a lot of love.

Once we fix all the leftover TODOs, we will start to implement the higher level features, such as the real time chat, collaboration on a document, picture sharing and peer-to-peer file exchange.

Here you can find some screenshots from the current prototype:

User profile
Messaging
Friendship establishment (question)
Friendship establishment (answer)

Other Ways You Can Help

Can't pay? Your help is still appreciated! Help us spread the word, sharing this campaign, linking our website or simply following us on Twitter. Let us know what you think at info@snake.li.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this privacy thing serious? Are you the usual paranoids?
Yeah, I don't get the point of Snake either.
Can I pay in BitCoin?
Sure, throw lots of them here: 1snakeXUZRuoofcoohQpVsh6zrZahUaJq
Can businesses benefit from Snake?
Do you want to protect the communication of your employees even from yourself? Or maybe you just want to be sure that curious users or evil hackers don't get access to all of your conversations in a single shot? Then Snake is for you, let us know if this interests you!
How is Snake different from...?
Take a look at the dedicated FAQ on our website.
What the hell are all the strange numbers in this campaign?
They're all prime numbers, which have a fundamental role in cryptography.
Where is the code?
We're going to release it after the closed beta. You can have a sneak preview with the right perk!
What is your favorite color?
Yellow.
I want to know more!
Take a look at our full design document.

More FAQ on our website.

Find This Campaign On
€949EUR
raised in 1 month
2% funded
0 time left
€50,021 EUR goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on February 11, 2014
Select a Perk
  • €2EUR
    Give that Snake a cookie!

    So you're interested in improving your privacy, uh? This is the right way to go: each small drop counts!

    10 claimed
  • €11EUR
    Custom wallpaper

    Privacy matters! To keep that in mind we will make an amazing, unique, customized, high resolution desktop wallpaper just for you! It will feature a fancy and colorful representation of your PGP Web of Trust or, if you don't use PGP, a random part of it.

    4 claimed
  • €19EUR
    Supporter recognition

    Looks like you really want to support us! Well, you will receive the custom wallpaper and you will be also featured on a dedicated page on the website. Thanks for making this possible!

    7 claimed
  • €29EUR
    Physical supporter recognition

    Your contribution deserves something you can pin on your showcase to let everyone know you care about privacy and supported us. You get all the previous perks and we will send you a nice postcard from Italy!

    1 out of 500 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • €53EUR
    Early access

    OK, you're serious with us, you want to see it working. Then you get all the previous perks and we you will get exclusive access to the closed beta along with 10 friends.

    6 out of 300 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2014
  • €73EUR
    Source code access + stickers

    Want to see how development is going on day-by-day? Cool, you will get all of the previous, plus read access to the repository before the public release. Moreover, we will send you some nice stickers for your laptop!

    1 out of 300 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • €127EUR
    Director's cut + code recog

    So, this time you'll get the hilarious director's cut of the pitch video plus a special recognition: your name will be hard coded into Snake, so that whenever you log in the system will show something special, just for you. All of the above perks included.

    2 out of 200 claimed
  • €257EUR
    T-shirt

    You will get all the previous perks plus a nice t-shirt featuring the Snake's logo. Real supporters can't miss this!

    0 out of 100 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • €503EUR
    Mug

    Privacy concerns keep you up at night? Can't work during the day? Take a good mug of strong coffee featuring the Snake logo. All previous perks included!

    0 out of 100 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • €1,009EUR
    Flowers

    Oh my God. You really love Snake. We love you back. To show you this, you will receive all of the above, plus a beautiful bouquet of flowers directly at home.

    0 out of 50 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • €2,003EUR
    3D Snake logo

    Time to get more physical, you will receive a nice 3D-printed model of the Snake logo. You can't miss this. Previous perks included!

    0 out of 50 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • €4,001EUR
    Meet the team

    You're THE supporter. We have to meet, discuss about cryptography, usability, privacy and future of Snake in front of a good beer in Milan. Are you coming?

    0 out of 5 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
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