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Self-destructing code developed by researchers that automatically deletes files

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A code has been developed by researchers at the University of Washington that will automatically delete files after a pre-set time limit.

As reported by itnews.com.au, the software is named Vanish and will be presented next month at USENIX Security '09 exhibition in Canada. It allows the user of any web-based service to specify to encrypt messages.

The key does not need to be managed as it is put into a global P2P network for a specified time before disappearing, rending the message unencryptable.

The system currently uses the Vuze BitTorrent distributed hash table as its P2P network and sets default time limits on messages as eight hours, although longer periods should be possible. The team is also reported to be developing a Firefox application for Vanish.

Team member Hank Levy, told ITnews: “In today's world, private information is scattered all over the internet, and we can't control the lifetime of that data. As we transition to a future based on cloud computing, where enormous, anonymous data centres run the vast majority of our applications and store nearly all of our data, we will lose even more control.”

University of Washington computer scientist Tadayoshi Kohno claimed that Vanish is designed to give people the same privacy for email and the web, as they would expect for a phone conversation.

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