TOR HAS COME under attack in a report which claims that deduction will identify 81 percent of users.
The technique, known as traffic confirmation, is a little bit like counting cards in poker. By having enough data and monitoring the flow of it in and out of the Tor nodes, you can pretty much deduce the IP address of the user you are trying to track.
The report, entitled On the Effectiveness of Traffic Analysis Against Anonymity Networks Using Flow Records, said: "In experiments that involved data from public Tor relays, using both open source Netflow emulation packages and our institutional Cisco router that monitored traffic using Netflow framework, we were able to correctly identify the source of anonymous traffic in about 81.4 percent of our experiments, with about 6.4 percent false positives."
Tor responded, explaining that its service is not necessarily tailored to such uses, referring to a blog post from 2009 which explains: "The Tor design doesn't try to protect against an attacker who can see or measure traffic going into the Tor network and also traffic coming out of the Tor network.
"That's because if you can see both flows, some simple statistics let you decide whether they match up.
"Because we aim to let people browse the web, we can't afford the extra overhead and hours of additional delay that are used in high-latency mix networks."
In today's response Tor reminds users: "Whether this attack can be performed at all has to do with how much of the internet the adversary is able to measure or control."
It goes on to purr: "It's great to see more research on traffic confirmation attacks, but a) traffic confirmation attacks are not a new area so don't freak out without actually reading the papers, and b) this particular one, while kind of neat, doesn't supercede [sic] all the previous papers."
In short, if you trusted Tor before, you can still trust it now. But if you are at all worried, click a few links before you freak out. µ
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