[tor-dev] Draft Proposal: Random Number Generation During Tor Voting

George Kadianakis desnacked at riseup.net
Mon Aug 10 13:07:11 UTC 2015

teor <teor2345 at gmail.com> writes:

>> On 4 Aug 2015, at 22:00 , George Kadianakis <desnacked at riseup.net> wrote:
>> Hello,
>> <snip>
>>>> 3.7. Shared Randomness Disaster Recovery [SRDISASTER]
>>>> If the consensus at 12:00UTC fails to be created, then there will be no new
>>>> shared random value for the day.
>>>> Directory authorities should keep including the previous shared random
>>>> values in the consensus till the next 12:00UTC commit-and-reveal session.
>>>> The time period needs to be updated to reflect the current time period even
>>>> if the random value stays the same.
>>>> Clients should keep on using this shared random values.
>>> (If the timestamp is updated, clients wouldn't even know that the protocol had failed, even if they downloaded the shared randomness document, unless they specifically checked for failure.)
>>> We could instead run an instance of the hash with an empty set of reveals like so:
>>> This would gracefully degrade the protocol, and provide a predictable but different value each day, based on the previous value and the date, very much like the current HSDir hash ring.
>>> But does this gain us anything?
>>> (The HSDirs would at least move each day, albeit predictably. We might want this property.)
>> I think the result here will be the same.
>> However, I agree that making it hard to detect failure is a bad idea. We should
>> think of how to make this more obvious.
> We could add a shared random status line to the consensus (and SR doc) giving the status of the latest completed shared random round - success, failure, bootstrap 0, or bootstrap 1.
> The expected state transitions would be:
> (start) -> bootstrap 0 -> bootstrap 1 -> success -> success …
> (failure in any state) -> failure -> success -> success …
> This would allow clients to determine how reliable the shared randomness is at any point in time.

OK, please check my `rng-draft-v4-asn` branch again. You can find it here:


In 6e74f12, I decided to follow your advice and chain-hash the old SRV in case of disaster.

I think this makes it a tiny bit harder for an attacker that wants to exploit
the disaster scenario, since to camp an HS she will need to setup 6*N relays,
instead of just 6, where N is the number of days she wants to camp. It also
seemed like an easy engineering change to make, so I did it. I decided to rip
off the date from the hash inputs, since David persuaded me that dates will make
this more complex and we should just use the concept of "current SRV" and
"previous SRV" to define time. Let me know if you think that's a bad idea.

Also in b03fc9c, I decided to add an indicator on the freshness of the SRV to
increase auditability. I did not add a new line as you suggested, because this
means that I would need to add more walls of text to the proposal defining how
to vote for these lines, and how to carry them, etc. Instead, I just added a
status field to the shared-rand-{previous,current}-value lines. Let me know if
you think that's a terrible idea as well.

Hope this improves things! Let me know your thoughts.

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