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[tor-talk] Roger's status report, Feb 2013

Five things I did in February 2013:

1) Released Tor

2) Explained the remaining items from SponsorF Year3 to Karsten:

3) Helped Nick Feamster write an NSF "major instrument" proposal,
to deploy a network of Internet "leaf" nodes that can give us better
Internet measurement results about network neutrality, performance,
censorship, etc from various edges of the Internet.

4) Blocked a Sybil attack on the Tor network. On Feb 4, researchers
signed up hundreds of Tor relays on Amazon, with the goal of becoming
all six hidden service directory points for hidden services. (Once they
control all six directory points, they still can't break the anonymity
of the hidden service, but they can censor it temporarily.) We've patched
the immediate protocol issues that allowed the attack:
but some of the broader design problems remain:
Fortunately, we know the research group. You'll be able to read more
details in their upcoming Oakland paper.

5) Attended the Yoko Ono Courage Award dinner, and met with the aide
to Ecuador's Foreign Minister. Ecuador is doing some really neat and
important things these days in terms of global freedom -- their plan
is that information freedom leads to peace, as opposed for example to
certain large countries that keep trying to escalate their military
reach. Internet freedom fits right into their goals. I expect a lot
of the world thinks that it's just a publicity stunt for them to offer
political asylum to Julian, but I think it's actually just one of the
many ways that they're showing they're serious about supporting global
freedom of information. They want to host a Tor dev meeting in Ecuador,
and use that to help establish more cooperation between Latin American
countries on the Internet Freedom topic. Sounds great to me.


Eleven smaller-but-still-useful things I did too:

6) Got up-to-speed on weasel's fancy new Tor exit relay ssl mitm checker:
You can invoke it as:
cat ~/.tor/cached-microdesc-consensus|grep -B2 "^s.*Exit.*Running"|grep "^r "|cut -d' ' -f3|./tor-exit-ssl-check - sorry.google.com
Somebody should get it its own Tor project page, or otherwise save it
from being lost in the depths of the tor-reports archives.

7) Helped talk to more potential people for the project coordinator
position, and helped talk Tom into being our new project
coordinator. (Woo!)

8) Continued talking to Dutch law enforcement about my January blog post:
Apparently when I pointed out that some of them regretted breaking into
a Tor hidden service and erasing it, it caused quite a stir -- not that
anybody is actually disputing the "it didn't work" conclusion as far
as I can tell. I'm trying to use it to make people in the Netherlands
communicate with each other; here's how I answered one Dutch journalist
who wanted to interview me: "You're welcome to use what I wrote in the
blog post. Hopefully it will be useful for starting a discussion. I
really think the discussion should be between Dutch citizens and their
government though -- I don't want to be the imperialist American coming
in and getting into the middle of it."

9) Wrote a letter of recommendation for George Kadianakis for grad school.
More empire-building! (Though I still wish he'd applied to more than one
place, since nothing in the grad school application business is certain.)

10) Helped OONI get back on track: various OONI developers have been
working on various disparate internal pieces of it, but nobody has been
working on making the whole thing usable or well-explained, and that
lack of apparent progress is causing concern among people who want to
see results.

11) Agreed to be on the USENIX FOCI 2013 program committee.

12) Refused an invite to IEEE Big Data 2013 program committee, since
it's not open-access.

13) Tightened our trademark-faq wording a bit:
and started talking to the torfone and torchat people.

14) Helped Intrigeri from Tails realize that some fixes from Vidalia
0.2.21 need to get into Debian Wheezy (and from there into Tails).

15) Went to DC and met with Aaron, Rob, and Chris about their current
Tor research. As usual Rob has challenging new questions about whether
his Tor simulation results from Shadow are realistic. The group of them
are working on a paper to assess the safety of the Tor network given a
set of relays.

16) Helped Kelley polish our 2012 annual report (to appear rsn I hope!)


Four of my March 2013 plans:

1) More talks. While I managed to not get on an airplane in February,
in March I'll go to Washington (DC) for a panel, Madison (WI) for a talk,
Boston for our dev meeting, and Palo Alto to meet with various people.

I plan to be substantially offline from March 28 through April 7.

2) Review PETS papers. I have 7 interesting Tor-related papers to read,
out of about 15 interesting Tor-related submissions.

3) On March 13 I'll call into the SponsorF briefing, to tell them
everything interesting we've done in the past six months.

4) Talk to Karsten about other SponsorF tasks that we didn't finish from
previous years and should queue for getting more attention.


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