Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Spike in ToR Clients from Iran

ToR (The Onion Router) is a well-known public anonymity service that obscures routing information through encryption and packet path randomization. I posted about the basics of ToR last year in Anonymity at the Edge, concerning an incident where a 21-year old Swedish computer security consultant ran afoul of various authorities for his involvement in the exposure of account details harvested from ToR.

As a by-product of the current turmoil in Iran and the censorship on Internet connections, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of ToR clients (connection points into the ToR network) created from Iran. Tim O'Brien at O'Reilly Radar spoke to Andrew Lewman, the Executive Directory of the Tor Project, and Lewman stated that
New client connections from within Iran have increased nearly 10x over the past 5 days. Overall, Tor client usage seems to have increased 3x over the past 5 days. There are a lot of rough numbers in these statements, and they are very conservative.
You can find some additional technical details from Lewman's own post on the topic, including this graphic

Lastly, I recently recommended the Compass site for a good collection of technical documents on security, and you can find their description of an attack on ToR here.

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