[tor-dev] New Paper: Cloud-based Onion Routing

Nick Jones najones at CS.Princeton.EDU
Wed Jul 13 18:47:47 UTC 2011

Hi All, 

I'm a graduate student at Princeton, and our research group has recently submitted a paper proposing a design for cloud based onion routing. The goal of our research is to securely perform onion routing on cloud based infrastructure (like Amazon EC2 and Rackspace) while allowing users to retain the same (or almost the same) privacy as when using Tor. We distribute trust across multiple cloud providers, and use Chaum's e-cash for payment and access control. Additionally, we hope that the elasticity of cloud infrastructure will make cloud based OR more censorship resistant than current systems. 

This project is still in a relatively early stage, and we would love to get feedback from the Tor community. We would welcome any comments/questions/criticisms. 

Our project's website is available at: 


A direct link to our paper is here:


Our abstract:

Internet censorship and surveillance have made anonymity tools increasingly critical for free and open Internet access. Tor, and its associated ecosystem of vol- unteer traffic relays, provides one of the most secure and widely-available means for achieving Internet anonymity today. Unfortunately, Tor has limitations, including poor performance, inadequate capacity, and a susceptibility to wholesale blocking. Rather than utilizing a large number of volunteers (as Tor does), we propose mov- ing onion-routing services to the “cloud” to leverage the large capacities, robust connectivity, and economies of scale inherent to commercial datacenters. This paper de- scribes Cloud-based Onion Routing (COR), which builds onion-routed tunnels over multiple anonymity service providers and through multiple cloud hosting providers, dividing trust while forcing censors to incur large collat- eral damage. We discuss the new security policies and mechanisms needed for such a provider-based ecosys- tem, and present some preliminary benchmarks. At to- day’s prices, a user could gain fast, anonymous network access through COR for only pennies per day.


Nick Jones

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