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[tor-talk] Tor Weekly News â September 18th, 2013

Tor Weekly News                                     September 18th, 2013

Welcome to the twelfth issue of Tor Weekly News, the weekly newsletter 
that covers whatâs happening in the closely-observed Tor community.

Official response to QUICK ANT disclosure

Another round of speculation regarding the attitude of state
surveillance agencies towards the Tor network was provoked by a
slide [1] featured in an edition of the Brazilian current-affairs show
âFantÃsticoâ, broadcast on September 8th [2]. The slide, leaked as part
of the ongoing Snowden disclosures, appeared to show a tab in the
alleged GCHQ [3] FLYING PIG surveillance interface labelled âQuery
QUICK ANT â Tor events QFDâ. Users on Reddit [4] and Twitter [5] began
to suggest possible attacks on Tor that might be managed through such an

Andrew Lewman posted an official response on the Tor blog [6] in which
he reiterated that âitâs not clear what the NSA or GCHQ can or cannot
doâ, and that well-known theoretical attacks against the Tor network are
clearly described on the projectâs FAQ page [7].

He further added that the tool in question was more likely to involve
âsome âTor flow detectorâ scripts that let them pick Tor flows out of a
set of flows theyâre looking atâ than âanything to do with deanonymizing
Tor users, except insofar as they might have traffic flows from both
sides of the circuit in their database.â

Finally, he remarked that instead of engaging in speculation based on
limited evidence, âweâd rather spend our time developing Tor and
conducting research to make a better Tor.â

   [1] https://people.torproject.org/~andrew/2013-09-10-quick-ant-tor-events-qfd.png
   [2] http://g1.globo.com/fantastico/noticia/2013/09/nsa-documents-show-united-states-spied-brazilian-oil-giant.html
   [3] https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/378185448293552128
   [4] http://www.reddit.com/r/TOR/comments/1m3jum/gchq_tor_events_capture/
   [5] https://twitter.com/jonathanmayer/status/377292928718499841
   [6] https://blog.torproject.org/blog/tor-nsa-gchq-and-quick-ant-speculation
   [7] https://www.torproject.org/docs/faq.html.en#AttacksOnOnionRouting

Entry guards and linkability

Leif Ryge pointed out [8] an issue with Torâs current âentry guardsâ
system, whereby connections entering Tor from different points on the
same network could potentially be linked to an individual user based on
the three entry nodes selected by that userâs Tor client, which remain
constant for a period of 4-8 weeks [9].

Leif suggested that âassuming this is an accurate assessment, wouldnât
it make sense to maintain separate sets of entry guards for each network
that the user connects from?â

Nick Mathewson replied [10] with an acknowledgement of the problem and a
number of reasons why simply generating separate sets of guards might
also harm a userâs anonymity: âYou would *not*, for example, want to
maintain a different set of entry guards for every IP that you receive,
since if you did, a hostile DHCP server could feed you new IPs until you
picked a hostile guard. Similarly, if you are a busy traveler who
changes your view of what network you are on hundreds or thousands of
times, your chance of picking a hostile guard would rise accordingly.â
He also pointed out that âhaving a record in your state file of every
network you have visited is not necessarily the best idea either.â

Nick concluded by mentioning Roger Dingledineâs proposal to lower the
number of entry guards selected by a client to one only, âto avoid the
property of letting guard choices identify Tor clientsâ.

   [8] https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-dev/2013-September/005423.html
   [9] https://blog.torproject.org/blog/lifecycle-of-a-new-relay
  [10] https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-dev/2013-September/005424.html

The lifecycle of a new relay: further research needed

In response to some confusion on the part of relay operators over the
apparently slow growth in the use of newly-established nodes by clients,
Roger Dingledine posted on the Tor blog [11] a detailed account of how
new relays, and the bandwidth they supply, are gradually integrated into
the Tor network by directory authorities, bandwidth authorities, and
clients themselves. Roger stressed that âthe descriptions here are in
part anecdotalâ.

Roger outlined the four broad phases that define the development of a
relay within the network, and finished by offering a number of questions
for further research, under a general rubric: âwhat do these phases look
like with real-world data?â If you would like to contribute to the Tor
communityâs understanding of the interaction between individual relays
and the network as a whole, please take a look both at the list of
sample questions and at Torâs publicly-available archive of metrics
data [12], and see what you can find!

  [11] https://blog.torproject.org/blog/lifecycle-of-a-new-relay
  [12] https://metrics.torproject.org/data.html

Food for thought

âBack in the ancient pre-Tor days, at the height of the crypto wars,
Ian Goldberg asked me at Financial Crypto in 1998 why we created onion
routing. Not entirely facetiously I told him that the fascinating
technological problems and the potential to better protect people and
their activities was nice, but the real attraction was to create a
context where people who were sure they should hate each other were
forced to collaborate.â [13]

 â Paul Syverson

  [13] https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-talk/2013-September/030097.html

Tor help desk roundup

The Tor help desk received a request for assistance setting up
Thunderbird to work with Tor. Thunderbird can be made to route
connections through Tor using the TorBirdy add-on. Further information
about using Tor with Thunderbird can be found on the wiki [14].

Another user wrote to comment on the lack of OpenSUSE support on Torâs
rpm package page [15]. There is an open ticket concerning this issue,
but it hasnât seen activity for some months [16]. A new ticket was
opened that addresses this concern more specifically [17].

  [14] https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/wiki/torbirdy#BeforeusingTorBirdy
  [15] https://www.torproject.org/docs/rpms.html
  [16] https://bugs.torproject.org/4389
  [17] https://bugs.torproject.org/9718

Miscellaneous news

The commitment level for the proposed Tor StackExchange page is hovering
at 88%; it needs to reach 100% before it will be accepted into beta. If
you think you will be able to contribute by answering questions from
current or potential Tor users, please sign up! [18]

  [18] http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/56447/tor-online-anonymity-privacy-and-security

Brian Callahan alerted relay operators running FreeBSD and OpenBSD to
the release of ports updated to the new tor [19].

Christian Sturm then promptly announced the release of updated packages
for NetBSD, DragonFly BSD, illumos, Minix, and âother systems
potentially using pkgsrcâ [20].

  [19] http://lists.nycbug.org/pipermail/tor-bsd/2013-September/000044.html
  [20] https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-talk/2013-September/030036.html

Karsten Loesing updated torâs GeoIP database to the newest version [21].

Karsten also published the results of his memory usage test on a version
of tor that reports additional statistics, which he conducted using the
Shadow network simulator [22].

Finally, Karsten asked for comments on his proposal to retire the old
method of estimating user numbers on the metrics page over the next few
weeks in favor of a more reliable, more efficient system (which has been
in beta for some time already), and with it to remove the accumulated
data associated with the older method [23].

  [21] https://bugs.torproject.org/9714
  [22] https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/ticket/7359#comment:18
  [23] https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-dev/2013-September/005443.html

Fabio Pietrosanti announced that the available cipher suites for
connections to tor2web.org have been updated to a much stronger
set [24].

  [24] https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-talk/2013-September/030003.html

Robert published the results of an investigation into different kinds of
round-trip time (RTT) measurement, and their efficiency in building
circuits through the Tor network [25].

  [25] https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-dev/2013-September/005440.html

George Kadianakis asked for comments on his early draft of a proposal
for different methods of migrating the Hidden Service protocol to a more
secure version [26].

George also pushed new versions of obfsproxy (0.2.3) and pyptlib
(0.0.4) [27].

  [26] https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-dev/2013-September/005438.html
  [27] https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-dev/2013-September/005441.html

In the course of a thread about the size of browser windows posing a
fingerprinting threat [28], harmony discovered that users of Ubuntuâs
Unity desktop should disable the âautomaximizeâ behavior, as it can
override one of Tor Browserâs anti-fingerprinting measures [29].

  [28] https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-talk/2013-September/030022.html
  [29] https://bugs.torproject.org/9738

Tom Lowenthal submitted his monthly status report for August [30].

  [30] https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-reports/2013-September/000339.html

Upcoming events

Sep 29    | Colin at the Winnipeg Cryptoparty
          | Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
          | http://wiki.skullspace.ca/index.php/CryptoParty
Sep 29-01 | Tor at OpenITP Circumvention Tech Summit IV
          | Berlin, Germany
          | https://www.openitp.org/openitp/circumvention-tech-summit.html
Oct 09-10 | Andrew speaking at Secure Poland 2013
          | Warszawa, Poland
          | http://www.secure.edu.pl/

This issue of Tor Weekly News has been assembled by harmony, Lunar,
dope457, Matt Pagan, and Karsten Loesing.

Want to continue reading TWN? Please help us create this newsletter.
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  [31] https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/wiki/TorWeeklyNews
  [32] https://lists.torproject.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/news-team
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