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This allows users to access the sites, but not pinpoint the location of the servers hosting them. The Tor browser is the easiest and most popular way to use Tor. Tor is unique in that it provides anonymous access to both the clear net and the DarkNet. The clear net is what the vast majority of people are most familiar with. The DarkNet is made up of hidden services, mostly websites that are not accessible in your day-to-day browser.
These Tor hidden services can be identified by their. Only people connected to the Tor network can access Tor hidden services, they do so anonymously, and they must also know where to look—Google and other search engines do not index. Read more: How to access the Darknet and Deep Web safely. This is why the DarkNet is particularly well-suited to crime and has a reputation for being the seedy underbelly of the internet. Web surfing inside of the Tor browser is completely anonymous, but other activities on your computer are not.
If you want to connect other applications and services to the Tor network, things start getting more complicated. You can find a list of other projects further down this article. A single misstep can put your anonymity in jeopardy. Check out our guide on achieving complete anonymity while online. Keep in mind that because your information is being routed through a series of dedicated relays, the speed will not be what you are used to. That is because the data is taking a much more circuitous path than normal and will be hampered by:.
The people at the Tor Project strongly urge their users to refrain from torrenting while using Tor. Torrent traffic, even through Tor, it is not anonymous and will only serve to a slow down the network for everyone and b completely obliterate any anonymity you may have enjoyed previously. Torrenting is a way of sharing large chunks of data between peers using special software called a torrent client.
Your internet provider or the company where you work may block the use of Tor on their network. This is fairly easy to achieve as the network administrator just needs to blacklist Tor relays, which are publicly listed. In which case you will need to learn a bit about using bridges hidden relays or a VPN to gain access. The original design documents even outlined this type of vulnerability. That being said, Tor was never meant to stand up to a large scale attack of poisoned nodes.
The best way to stay private is to use both Tor and a VPN together. In fact, all that the ISP will see is that she has encrypted data going back and forth between her computer and the VPN server that she is connected to. Nothing else.
It only provides an encrypted tunnel between your computer and the VPN server that you are connected to. Whoever operates the VPN server can technically snoop on your online activity, though reputable VPN services claim not to do this in their privacy polices.
Tor is used to make your connection to any websites that you visit anonymous. Your computer connects to a Tor entry node, and all of your traffic then hops through an intermediary relay to an exit node before finally reaching the destination website. Your ISP can see that you are connecting to a Tor entry node, which is enough to raise eyebrows in many cases.
The solution seems simple enough. Connect to a VPN, then open the Tor browser and surf anonymously in private. This solution appears to have created a bit of confusion, though, as people wonder if it is better to connect to the VPN first or Tor. The easier option is to connect to your VPN and then launch the Tor browser. The more complicated option is to do it the other way round. This requires a remote secure shell connection to the VPN server or a VPN client that has this capability built in as a configuration option.
That should initiate the secure connection through Tor. In the first setup, Tor over VPN , your ISP sees that your computer is sending and receiving encrypted information with a specific server, and that is all. The VPN server only sees that it is connected to a Tor entry node and that all of your surfing is being handled through that network.
All of the websites on the other end of Tor do not see any personally identifiable information. If your VPN provider does keep logs of activity, any benefit you might have received from the Tor connection is lost. If you find Tor useful and would like to support it, you can volunteer to create and maintain your own Tor node for others to use. You can also set up your own Tor hidden service, which essentially means you create a website or service only available on the DarkNet.
Check out our guide on how to set up a Tor hidden service. Note that operating a Tor relay or hidden service requires quite a bit more technical expertise than simply browsing the web with the Tor browser. Even though using Tor is completely legal , simply connecting to it is cause for suspicion in some areas of the world. No one has ever gone to prison or even been fined for using Tor.
Those who run a Tor relay are cautioned that they will eventually be contacted by either their ISP or local law enforcement, maybe both, regarding some illicit activity online that is linked to the IP address used by their relay. To date, in all instances, simply informing these entities that the IP address in question is assigned to a node of the Tor network and that no logs are kept on that server has been sufficient.
The number of people accessing the internet through Tor changes almost every day. True to their claim, there are no stats available from the folks at TorProject concerning what their userbase is doing online or what sort of content they are accessing.
One thing that is obvious is that Tor is not finished. What else is out there? As it so happens there are other tools out there for those who wish to avoid being tracked. Here are a few of the most popular that are currently available. Similar to Tor, I2P , or the Invisible Internet Project, uses a distributed network database and peer selection for anonymous traffic.
Also susceptible to traffic analysis attacks, I2P does have some benefits over Tor. The peers are selected through continuous profiling and ranking performance. It is also small enough that few, if any, active blocks are in place to prevent access.
Unlike Tor, Freenet does not rely on dedicated entry and exit points. Freenet also is a file distribution service where encrypted files are stored on computer hard drives throughout the network. Due to the encryption, it is unlikely that a user would be able to determine what that file actually is. This is primarily due to their certification process. In order for you to become a mix operator, you must go through their certification process. Theoretically, this could lower the chances of an attacker sneaking in modified servers, but such a claim would have to be tested in a simulated environment.
GNUnet is a peer-to-peer file sharing tool that relies on large groups to obfuscate the identities of those that are attached to the group. An individual in the group is virtually indistinguishable from any other user by anyone but the initiator of the group. The following projects are still in development, but are working toward creating even stronger anonymity networks, but for more specific applications.
Tor was created as a sort of generic, one size fits all solution for anonymous web use. These projects are more focused on specific applications of web use. Aqua is a file sharing network designed to be completely anonymous, while Herd is an anonymous Voice over IP network.
The designers are working up a means of stripping the metadata from the network traffic, which is the primary way of tracing a client and the server that client is communicating with. Alpenhorn is the second iteration of Vuvuzela, named after the horn normally used at soccer matches in Latin America and Africa. Alpenhorn is an anonymous, metadata free chat program that can be scaled to millions of users, in theory.
Expect a public beta in the near future. If anonymity is more important to you than latency, then Dissent offers some of the strongest available anonymity. Due to the higher latency and low bandwidth, dissent is best used for blogging, micro-blogging or even IRC type communications.
The way Dissent works is rather simple, but bandwidth heavy. When one client transmits anything, all the other clients transmit a package of the same size. Instead of using onion routing, Dissent is based on DC-nets, a dining cryptographers algorithm. Combine that with a verifiable shuffle algorithm and you end up with the most anonymous design being looked at by researchers today. Anonymous file sharing is becoming more and more sought after.
Riffle is yet another attempt at providing an anonymous way for a user to share files of any size. However, it is not meant as a replacement for Tor, mainly because file sharing over Tor breaks anonymity. Riffle is meant to augment Tor by providing Tor users with a truly anonymous way to share files, without choking the Tor network.
Inspired by Dissent, Riffle also uses a shuffle algorithm but drops the DC-net cryptographic algorithm. Riposte was inspired by Dissent , but focused on micro-blogging. Riffle is designed to allow a user to micro-blog anonymously at the expense of internet speed. Following in the footsteps of Dissent, Riposte also uses the DC-net type setup for hiding the original transmission in a storm of transmissions of random data bits of the same size.
Finally, as an added bonus, here is a list of all the other projects in the works over at TorProject, all with an interest in maintaining internet privacy for any and all who wish to make use of their products. Some of these are rather obvious and user friendly, while others are more behind-the-scenes.
A couple of different programming libraries are available for software developers to allow their products to communicate with The Onion Network. This is what most people use to access Tor. The browser is actually a customized version of Mozilla Firefox, and therefore looks and feels like any other web browser.
The customization is designed to leave no trace of your web surfing on the computer. When you close the browser, all traces of your browsing are cleared from memory. Only your bookmarks and downloads are left behind. These are websites that are only accessible within the Tor network, and by knowing where to go. There are special search engines like Onion.
Keep in mind, though that there are hoaxes, scams, and honeypots strewn throughout the DarkNet. Be wary of what you click on. There are also some very disturbing images available in there. You have been warned. You can access the Tor network on your Android device using Orbot. Orbot creates a Tor proxy on your device so that all internet traffic from your device goes through the Tor network.
That means that all the apps on your phone or tablet will have their traffic routed through Tor as well. Of course, some apps are designed not to be anonymous and will break the anonymity provided by the Tor network. For advanced users, note that you actually only need to send Tor a HUP signal, not actually restart it. Have a look at the sample torrc file for hints on common configurations.
Here are some likely places for your logs to be:. To change your logging setup by hand, edit your torrc and find the section near the top of the file which contains the following line:. For example, if you want Tor to send complete debug, info, notice, warn, and err level messages to a file, append the following line to the end of the section:. Alas, some of the warn messages are hard for ordinary users to correct -- the developers are slowly making progress at making Tor automatically react correctly for each situation.
We recommend running at the default, which is "notice". Tor relays in particular should avoid logging at info or debug in normal operation, since they might end up recording sensitive information in their logs. If Tor can establish a circuit, Tor Browser will automatically launch the browser for you. You can also check in the Tor logs for a line saying that Tor "has successfully opened a circuit.
Looks like client functionality is working. We want to hear from you! There are supposed to be zero crash bugs in Tor. This FAQ entry describes the best way for you to be helpful to us. Second, make sure your version of libevent is new enough. We recommend at least libevent 1. If so, check if there are any new details that you can add. Fourth, is the crash repeatable? Can you cause the crash? Can you isolate some of the circumstances or config options that make it happen?
How quickly or often does the bug show up? Can you check if it happens with other versions of Tor, for example the latest stable release? You can look at the log-configuration FAQ entry for instructions on what to put in your torrc file. If it usually takes a long time for the crash to show up, you will want to reserve a whole lot of disk space for the debug log. You can set preferred entry and exit nodes as well as inform Tor which nodes you do not want to use.
The following options can be added to your config file torrc or specified on the command line:. We recommend you do not use these — they are intended for testing and may disappear in future versions. Note also that not every circuit is used to deliver traffic outside of the Tor network.
It is normal to see non-exit circuits such as those used to connect to onion services, those that do directory fetches, those used for relay reachability self-tests, and so on that end at a non-exit node. Make sure there are no spaces between the commas and the list items. See the manual page for details.
If your firewall works by blocking ports, then you can tell Tor to only use the ports when you start your Tor Browser. Or you can add the ports that your firewall permits by adding "FascistFirewall 1" to your torrc configuration file. You can select a different set of ports with the FirewallPorts torrc option.
If you want to be more fine-grained with your controls, you can also use the ReachableAddresses config options, e. The default open ports are listed below but keep in mind that, any port or ports can be opened by the relay operator by configuring it in torrc or modifying the source code. A relay will block access to its own IP address, as well local network IP addresses. A relay always blocks itself by default.
Applications that do DNS resolves themselves may leak information. Consider using Socks4A e. If you are running Tor to get anonymity, and you are worried about an attacker who is even slightly clever, then yes, you should worry. The Problem. When your applications connect to servers on the Internet, they need to resolve hostnames that you can read like www.
To do this, your application sends a request to a DNS server, telling it the hostname it wants to resolve. Clearly, this is a bad idea if you plan to connect to the remote host anonymously: when your application sends the request to the DNS server, the DNS server and anybody else who might be watching can see what hostname you are asking for. Even if your application then uses Tor to connect to the IP anonymously, it will be pretty obvious that the user making the anonymous connection is probably the same person who made the DNS request.
If you think that you applied one of the solutions properly but still experience DNS leaks please verify there is no third-party application using DNS independently of Tor. These are two steps you need to take here. Step one: add "TestSocks 1" to your torrc file, and then watch your logs as you use your application. If you suspect your application might behave like this, you should use a network sniffer like Wireshark and look for suspicious outbound DNS requests.
By default, your Tor client only listens for applications that connect from localhost. Connections from other computers are refused. If you want to torify applications on different computers than the Tor client, you should edit your torrc to define SocksListenAddress 0.
If you want to get more advanced, you can configure your Tor client on a firewall to bind to your internal IP but not your external IP. Tor can be configured as a client or a relay on another machine, and allow other machines to be able to connect to it for anonymity. This is most useful in an environment where many computers want a gateway of anonymity to the rest of the world. You can state multiple listen addresses, in the case that you are part of several networks or subnets.
When setting up your SocksListenAddress es , you need to give the port with the address, as shown above. IPv6 is supported since Tor version 0. To activate it add the following two entries into your torrc file:. If you are interested in developing you can review the IPv6 implemetation status at our IPv6Features wiki page, known issues can be found with the ipv6 keyword.
The exit relay is the most needed relay type but it also comes with the highest legal exposure and risk and you should NOT run them from your home. If you are looking to run a relay with minimal effort, fast guard relays are also very useful followed by bridges.
If your relay is relatively new then give it time. Tor decides which relays it uses heuristically based on reports from Bandwidth Authorities. The lifecycle of a new relay is explained in more depth in this blog post. Tor can handle relays with dynamic IP addresses just fine.
Just leave the "Address" line in your torrc blank, and Tor will guess. For the time being Tor will require IPv4 addresses on relays, you can not run a Tor relay on a host with IPv6 addresses only. If you allow exit connections, some services that people connect to from your relay will connect back to collect more information about you. For example, some IRC servers connect back to your identd port to record which user made the connection.
Also, users exiting from you might attract the attention of other users on the IRC server, website, etc. Another reason is that groups who scan for open proxies on the Internet have learned that sometimes Tor relays expose their socks port to the world.
We recommend that you bind your socksport to local networks only. In any case, you need to keep up to date with your security. See this article on operational security for Tor relays for more suggestions. See this tor-relays thread.
All outgoing connections must be allowed, so that each relay can communicate with every other relay. In many jurisdictions, Tor relay operators are legally protected by the same common carrier regulations that prevent internet service providers from being held liable for third-party content that passes through their network. Exit relays that filter some traffic would likely forfeit those protections.
Tor promotes free network access without interference. Exit relays must not filter the traffic that passes through them to the internet. Exit relays found to be filtering traffic will get the BadExit flag once detected. Otherwise, you could drop many packets during periods of maximum bandwidth usage -- you may need to experiment with which values make your connection comfortable. Then set BandwidthBurst to the same as BandwidthRate.
Linux-based Tor nodes have another option at their disposal: they can prioritize Tor traffic below other traffic on their machine, so that their own personal traffic is not impacted by Tor load. Additionally, there are hibernation options where you can tell Tor to only serve a certain amount of bandwidth per time period such as GB per month. These are covered in the hibernation entry below.
The accounting options in the torrc file allow you to specify the maximum amount of bytes your relay uses for a time period. This specifies when the accounting should reset. For instance, to setup a total amount of bytes served for a week that resets every Wednesday at am , you would use:. This specifies the maximum amount of data your relay will send during an accounting period, and the maximum amount of data your relay will receive during an account period.
When the accounting period resets from AccountingStart , then the counters for AccountingMax are reset to 0. It will keep track of how quickly it used its quota in the last period, and choose a random point in the new interval to wake up. This way we avoid having hundreds of relays working at the beginning of each month but none still up by the end.
Just divide your monthly amount by For example, if you have 50 GB to offer each way, you might set your RelayBandwidthRate to KBytes: this way your relay will always be useful for at least half of each day. But there are a few exceptions:. If you open your DirPort, then Tor clients will ask you for a copy of the directory. This probably accounts for most of the difference between your "write" byte count and your "read" byte count.
Another minor exception shows up when you operate as an exit node, and you read a few bytes from an exit connection for example, an instant messaging or ssh connection and wrap it up into an entire byte cell for transport through the Tor network. The parameters assigned in the AccountingMax and BandwidthRate apply to both client and relay functions of the Tor process.
Thus you may find that you are unable to browse as soon as your Tor goes into hibernation, signaled by this entry in the log:. The solution is to run two Tor processes - one relay and one client, each with its own config. One way to do this if you are starting from a working relay setup is as follows:. Each Tor relay has an exit policy that specifies what sort of outbound connections are allowed or refused from that relay. The exit policies are propagated to Tor clients via the directory, so clients will automatically avoid picking exit relays that would refuse to exit to their intended destination.
This way each relay can decide the services, hosts, and networks it wants to allow connections to, based on abuse potential and its own situation. The default exit policy allows access to many popular services e. This setting means that your relay will be used for relaying traffic inside the Tor network, but not for connections to external websites or other services. If you do allow any exit connections, make sure name resolution works that is, your computer can resolve Internet addresses correctly.
This tells Tor to avoid exiting through that relay. In effect, relays with this flag become non-exits. Please reach out to the bad-relays team so we can sort out the issue. Several countries, including China and Iran, have found ways to detect and block connections to Tor bridges. So should you run a normal relay or bridge relay? If you have lots of bandwidth, you should definitely run a normal relay.
Thanks for volunteering! Note: As of Tor 0. Eventually they will replace the old RSA identities, but that will happen in time, to ensure compatibility with older versions. As of Tor 0. In simple words, it works like this:. If you want to use this feature, you can consult our more detailed guide on the topic. If you want to keep using the old key, see the Upgrading your Tor relay FAQ entry for how to restore the old identity key.
A service called Tor Win32 Service will be installed and started. This service will also automatically start every time Windows boots, unless you change the Start-up type. An easy way to check the status of Tor, start or stop the service, and change the start-up type is by running services. Optionally, you can specify additional options for the Tor service using the -options argument.
The uninstaller is currently not capable of removing the active service. Competent vserver admins are able to configure your server to not hit these limits. Look for "failcnt" in tcpsndbuf, tcprecvbuf, numothersock, and othersockbuf. Ask for these to be increased accordingly. Xen, Virtual Box and VMware virtual servers have no such limits normally. If the vserver admin will not increase system limits another option is to reduce the memory allocated to the send and receive buffers on TCP connections Tor uses.
An experimental feature to constrain socket buffers has recently been added. If your version of Tor supports it, set "ConstrainedSockets 1" in your configuration. See the tor man page for additional details about this option. Unfortunately, since Tor currently requires you to be able to connect to all the other Tor relays, we need you to be able to use at least file descriptors. We hope to fix this in the future, once we know how to build a Tor network with restricted topologies -- that is, where each node connects to only a few other nodes.
But this is still a long way off. If you do decide to run more than one relay, please set the "MyFamily" config option in the torrc of each relay, listing all the relays comma-separated that are under your control:. That way clients will know to avoid using more than one of your relays in a single circuit. Tor guesses its IP address by asking the computer for its hostname, and then resolving that hostname. Also, if you have many addresses, you might also want to set "OutboundBindAddress" so external connections come from the IP you intend to present to the world.
See portforward. If your relay is running on a internal net you need to setup port forwarding. Forwarding TCP connections is system dependent but the firewalled-clients FAQ entry offers some examples on how to do this. You may have to change "eth0" if you have a different external interface the one connected to the Internet. All of this said, fast Tor relays do use a lot of ram. It is not unusual for a fast exit relay to use MB of memory. The simplest example is an attacker who owns a small number of Tor relays.
There are also some downsides to running a Tor relay. It is an open research question whether the benefits outweigh the risks. A lot of that depends on the attacks you are most worried about. Exonerator is a web service that can check if an IP address was a relay at a given time. We recommend these non-profit charities that are happy to turn your donations into better speed and anonymity for the Tor network:.
Note that there can be a tradeoff here between anonymity and performance. At the same time though, economies of scale for bandwidth mean that combining many small donations into several larger relays is more efficient at improving network performance. Improving anonymity and improving performance are both worthwhile goals, so however you can help is great! Since the. Currently, the Tor directory server provides this look-up service; and thus the look-up request must get to the Tor network.
Therefore, your application needs to pass the. So, how do you make your application pass the hostname directly to Tor? This will allow you to use almost any program with Tor without leaking DNS lookups and allow those same programs to access onion services. Versions of Tor before 0. Starting with 0. The stuff in parenthesis is optional. Only one release is ever made with any given set of these version numbers.
The TAG lets you know how stable we think the release is: "alpha" is pretty unstable; "rc" is a release candidate; and no tag at all means that we have a final release. So for example, we might start a development branch with say 0. The patchlevel increments consistently as the status tag changes, for example, as in: 0. Eventually, we would release 0. The next stable release would be 0.
Why do we do it like this? Because every release has a unique version number, it is easy for tools like package manager to tell which release is newer than another. The tag makes it easy for users to tell how stable the release is likely to be. To set up your own Tor network, you need to run your own authoritative directory servers, and your clients and relays must be configured so they know about your directory servers rather than the default public ones.
Apart from the somewhat tedious method of manually configuring a couple of directory authorities, relays and clients there are two separate tools that could help. One is Chutney, the other is Shadow. Chutney is a tool for configuring, controlling and running tests on a testing Tor network. It requires that you have Tor and Python 2. You can use Chutney to create a testing network by generating Tor configuration files torrc and necessary keys for the directory authorities.
Then you can let Chutney start your Tor authorities, relays and clients and wait for the network to bootstrap. Finally, you can have Chutney run tests on your network to see which things work and which do not. Chutney is typically used for running a testing network with about 10 instances of Tor. Every instance of Tor binds to one or two ports on localhost Shadow is a network simulator that can run Tor through its Scallion plug-in.
Shadow can be run on any linux machine without root, and can also run on EC2 using a pre-configured image. Also, Shadow controls the time of the simulation with the effect that time-consuming tests can be done more efficiently than in an ordinary testing network. The Shadow wiki and Shadow website are good places to get started. A fully Java implementation of the Tor client is now available as Orchid.
We still consider Orchid to be experimental, so use with care. One is multithreading: you have a separate micro-program inside the main program for each net connection that reads and writes to the connection as needed. This, performance-wise, sucks. And the newest ways are finally fast, but are not available on all platforms. However, On the the Win32 platform by Microsoft the only good way to do fast IO on windows with hundreds of sockets is using overlapped IO, which is grossly unlike every other BSD sockets interface.
Internet communication is based on a store-and-forward model that can be understood in analogy to postal mail: Data is transmitted in blocks called IP datagrams or packets. Every packet includes a source IP address of the sender and a destination IP address of the receiver , just as ordinary letters contain postal addresses of sender and receiver.
The way from sender to receiver involves multiple hops of routers, where each router inspects the destination IP address and forwards the packet closer to its destination. Thus, every router between sender and receiver learns that the sender is communicating with the receiver.
In particular, your local ISP is in the position to build a complete profile of your Internet usage. In addition, every server in the Internet that can see any of the packets can profile your behaviour. The aim of Tor is to improve your privacy by sending your traffic through a series of proxies. Your communication is encrypted in multiple layers and routed via multiple hops through the Tor network to the final receiver.
Note that all your local ISP can observe now is that you are communicating with Tor nodes. Similarly, servers in the Internet just see that they are being contacted by Tor nodes. First, Tor prevents websites and other services from learning your location, which they can use to build databases about your habits and interests. Because these relays are run by different individuals or organizations, distributing trust provides more security than the old one hop proxy approach.
Note, however, that there are situations where Tor fails to solve these privacy problems entirely: see the entry below on remaining attacks. Yes, the guy running the exit node can read the bytes that come in and out there. Tor anonymizes the origin of your traffic, and it makes sure to encrypt everything inside the Tor network, but it does not magically encrypt all traffic throughout the Internet. This is why you should always use end-to-end encryption such as SSL for sensitive Internet connections.
First, Tor protects the network communications. It separates where you are from where you are going on the Internet. What content and data you transmit over Tor is controlled by you. However, since you have logged into their sites, they know who you are.
These binary applications run as your user account with your permissions in your operating system. This means these applications can access anything that your user account can access. Some of these technologies, such as Java and Adobe Flash for instance, run in what is known as a virtual machine. This virtual machine may have the ability to ignore your configured proxy settings, and therefore bypass Tor and share information directly to other sites on the Internet.
The virtual machine may be able to store data, such as cookies, completely separate from your browser or operating system data stores. Therefore, these technologies must be disabled in your browser to use Tor safely. We produce a web browser that is preconfigured to help you control the risks to your privacy and anonymity while browsing the Internet.
Not only are the above technologies disabled to prevent identity leaks, Tor Browser also includes browser extensions like NoScript and Torbutton, as well as patches to the Firefox source code. The full design of Tor Browser can be read here. The Tails team has created an entire bootable operating system configured for anonymity and privacy on the Internet.
Tor is a work in progress. Further, the Tor client establishes an ephemeral encryption key with each relay in the circuit; these extra layers of encryption mean that only the exit relay can read the cells. Authentication : Every Tor relay has a public decryption key called the "onion key". Each relay rotates its onion key once a week. Coordination : How do clients know what the relays are, and how do they know that they have the right keys for them? Each relay has a long-term public signing key called the "identity key".
Each directory authority additionally has a "directory signing key". The directory authorities dir-spec. How do clients know what the directory authorities are? The Tor software comes with a built-in list of location and public key for each directory authority. So the only way to trick users into using a fake Tor network is to give them a specially modified version of the software. Tor like all current practical low-latency anonymity designs fails when the attacker can see both ends of the communications channel.
For example, suppose the attacker controls or watches the Tor relay you choose to enter the network, and also controls or watches the website you visit. In this case, the research community knows no practical low-latency design that can reliably stop the attacker from correlating volume and timing information on the two sides. So, what should we do?
Suppose the attacker controls, or can observe, C relays. Suppose there are N relays total. But profiling is, for most users, as bad as being traced all the time: they want to do something often without an attacker noticing, and the attacker noticing once is as bad as the attacker noticing more often. Thus, choosing many random entries and exits gives the user no chance of escaping profiling by this kind of attacker. The solution is "entry guards": each Tor client selects a few relays at random to use as entry points, and uses only those relays for her first hop.
Restricting your entry nodes may also help against attackers who want to run a few Tor nodes and easily enumerate all of the Tor user IP addresses. Tor will reuse the same circuit for new TCP streams for 10 minutes, as long as the circuit is working fine. If the circuit fails, Tor will switch to a new circuit immediately. But note that a single TCP stream e. Otherwise an adversary with a partial view of the network would be given many chances over time to link you to your destination, rather than just one chance.
The actual content of these fixed size cells is documented in the main Tor spec , section 3. We have been considering one day adding two classes of cells -- maybe a 64 byte cell and a byte cell. This would allow less overhead for interactive streams while still allowing good throughput for bulk streams.
It holds open a handful of connections so there will be one available when you need one. An adversary with a great deal of manpower and money, and severe real-world penalties to discourage people from trying to evade detection, is a difficult test for an anonymity and anti-censorship system. After seeing these attacks and others first-hand, more effort was put into researching new circumvention techniques. Pluggable transports are protocols designed to allow users behind government firewalls to access the Tor network.
These attacks come from examining characteristics of the IP headers or TCP headers and looking for information leaks based on individual hardware signatures. One example is the Oakland paper that lets you learn if two packet streams originated from the same hardware, but only if you can see the original TCP timestamps. Tor transports TCP streams, not IP packets, so we end up automatically scrubbing a lot of the potential information leaks.
Do not use a VPN as an anonymity solution. VPNs encrypt the traffic between the user and the VPN provider, and they can act as a proxy between a user and an online destination. A technically proficient attacker or a number of employees could retrieve the full identity information associated with a VPN user. Identities can be discovered by following a money trail using Bitcoin does not solve this problem because Bitcoin is not anonymous , or by persuading the VPN provider to hand over logs.
When you use a VPN, websites can still build up a persistent profile of your usage over time. When you use Tor the IP address you connect to changes at most every 10 minutes, and often more frequently than that.
Proxychains is a program that sends your traffic through a series of open web proxies that you supply before sending it on to your final destination. Unlike Tor , proxychains does not encrypt the connections between each proxy server. An open proxy that wanted to monitor your connection could see all the other proxy servers you wanted to use between itself and your final destination, as well as the IP address that proxy hop received traffic from. Because the Tor protocol requires encrypted relay-to-relay connections, not even a misbehaving relay can see the entire path of any Tor user.
While Tor relays are run by volunteers and checked periodically for suspicious behavior, many open proxies that can be found with a search engine are compromised machines, misconfigured private proxies not intended for public use, or honeypots set up to exploit users.
As mentioned above, it is possible for an observer who can view both you and either the destination website or your Tor exit node to correlate timings of your traffic as it enters the Tor network and also as it exits. Tor does not defend against such a threat model.
In a more limited sense, note that if a censor or law enforcement agency has the ability to obtain specific observation of parts of the network, it is possible for them to verify a suspicion that you talk regularly to your friend by observing traffic at both ends and correlating the timing of only that traffic. Again, this is only useful to verify that parties already suspected of communicating with one another are doing so.
In most countries, the suspicion required to obtain a warrant already carries more weight than timing correlation would provide. Furthermore, since Tor reuses circuits for multiple TCP connections, it is possible to associate non anonymous and anonymous traffic at a given exit node, so be careful about what applications you run concurrently over Tor. Perhaps even run separate Tor clients for these applications.
Read these papers especially the ones in boxes to get up to speed on anonymous communication systems. Requiring every Tor user to be a relay would help with scaling the network to handle all our users, and running a Tor relay may help your anonymity. Providing service to these clients is a critical part of providing effective anonymity for everyone, since many Tor users are subject to these or similar constraints and including these clients increases the size of the anonymity set.
That said, we do want to encourage Tor users to run relays, so what we really want to do is simplify the process of setting up and maintaining a relay. First, we need to make Tor stable as a relay on all common operating systems. See Section 4. Second, we still need to get better at automatically estimating the right amount of bandwidth to allow. Third, we need to work on scalability, both of the network how to stop requiring that all Tor relays be able to connect to all Tor relays and of the directory how to stop requiring that all Tor users know about all Tor relays.
Changes like this can have large impact on potential and actual anonymity. Again, UDP transport would help here. Three different research papers describe ways to identify the relays in a circuit by running traffic through candidate relays and looking for dips in the traffic while the circuit is active.
These clogging attacks are not that scary in the Tor context so long as relays are never clients too. This would be handy, because it would make Tor better able to handle new protocols like VoIP, it could solve the whole need to socksify applications, and it would solve the fact that exit relays need to allocate a lot of file descriptors to hold open all the exit connections.
Some of the hard problems are:. Right now the path length is hard-coded at 3 plus the number of nodes in your path that are sensitive. Remember that the best way to attack Tor is to attack the endpoints and ignore the middle of the path. Currently there is no reason to suspect that investigating a single relay will yield user-destination pairs, but if many people are using only a single hop, we make it more likely that attackers will seize or break into relays in hopes of tracing users.
Now, there is a good argument for making the number of hops in a path unpredictable. Choosing path length from, say, a geometric distribution will turn this into a statistical attack, which seems to be an improvement. On the other hand, a longer path length is bad for usability, and without further protections it seems likely that an adversary can estimate your path length anyway.
Please write a research paper that tells us what to do. It is better to not manually change the path. There are many attacks and adversaries that Tor is trying to defend against at once, and constraining paths has surprising trickle-down effects on the other attacks e. Picking your entry and exit in different countries is not a good defence, because it only defends against adversaries that are unable to rent servers in other countries.
This approach is more well-understood in the context of high-latency systems. See e. This would be great for two reasons. Second, it is conceivable that we could get increased security against certain attacks by migrating streams periodically, since leaving a stream on a given circuit for many hours might make it more vulnerable to certain adversaries.
There are two problems though. First, Tor would need a much more bulky protocol. Right now each end of the Tor circuit just sends the cells, and lets TCP provide the in-order guaranteed delivery. If we can move streams across circuits, though, we would need to add queues at each end of the circuit, add sequence numbers so we can send and receive acknowledgements for cells, and so forth. These changes would increase the complexity of the Tor protocol considerably. Circuits are typically three hops long, so in about a third of the cases we just lose.
But there are still some approaches we can take to improve the reliability of streams. The main approach we have now is to specify that streams using certain application ports prefer circuits to be made up of stable nodes. These ports are specified in the "LongLivedPorts" torrc option, and they default to.
The definition of "stable" is an open research question, since we can only guess future stability based on past performance. Right now we judge that a node is stable if it advertises that it has been up for more than a day. Down the road we plan to refine this so it takes into account the average stability of the other nodes in the Tor network.
You cannot trust the network to pick the path for relays could collude and route you through their colluding friends. This would give an adversary the ability to watch all of your traffic end to end. The default exit policy blocks certain private net blocks, like Some overzealous firewall configs suggest that you also block all the parts of the Internet that IANA has not currently allocated.
Second, why should we default-reject something that might one day be useful? It would be nice to let relay operators say things like "reject www. There are two problems, though. First, users could still get around these blocks. For example, they could request the IP address rather than the hostname when they exit from the Tor network. This means operators would still need to learn all the IP addresses for the destinations in question.
The second problem is that it would allow remote attackers to censor arbitrary sites. For example, if a Tor operator blocks www1. Tor only transports data, it does not inspect the contents of the connections which are sent over it.
Further, and more importantly, which definition of "certain content" could we use? Every choice would lead to a quagmire of conflicting personal morals. The only solution is to have no opinion. Like all anonymous communication networks that are fast enough for web browsing, Tor is vulnerable to statistical "traffic confirmation" attacks, where the adversary watches traffic at both ends of a circuit and confirms their guess that those endpoints are communicating. It would be really nice if we could use cover traffic to confuse this attack.
But there are three problems here:. We hope that one day somebody will prove us wrong, but we are not optimistic. We did however since implement netflow padding to collapse netflow records for improved security. This has the goal of stymying some of the potential traffic analysis attacks out there -- website fingerprinting, end-to-end correlation, and the things in between.
For details see the blog post by the Tor network team, the announcement on the tor-dev mailinglist or read further publications on padding. Many people suggest that we should use steganography to make it hard to notice Tor connections on the Internet. There are a few problems with this idea though:.
First, in the current network topology, the Tor relays list is public and can be accessed by attackers. How is Tor different from other proxies? What programs can I use with Tor? Why is it called Tor? Is there a backdoor in Tor? Can I distribute Tor? How can I get support? Why is Tor so slow? How can I share files anonymously through Tor? What would The Tor Project do with more funding?
How can I tell if Tor is working, and that my connections really are anonymized? Can I use Tor on my phone or mobile device? Which outbound ports must be open when using Tor as a client? How do I use my browser for ftp with Tor? Does Tor remove personal information from the data my application sends?
How many people use Tor? How many relays or exit nodes are there? Compilation and Installation: How do I uninstall Tor? What are these "sig" files on the download page? Your website is blocked in my country. How do I download Tor? Why does my Tor executable appear to have a virus or spyware? How do I open a. Is there a LiveCD or other bundle that includes Tor? Can I install other Firefox extensions? Which extensions should I avoid using? Why does Google show up in foreign languages?
Gmail warns me that my account may have been compromised. How do I make Tor Browser use the tor that is already running on the system? Which environment variables does Tor Launcher respect? Tor Browser 3. How do I verify the download shasums. Why does "New Identity" close all my open tabs?
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