Tor Weekly News — February 26th, 2014

Lunar lunar at
Wed Feb 26 12:28:55 UTC 2014

Tor Weekly News                                      February 26th, 2014

Velkomin to the eighth issue of Tor Weekly News in 2014, the weekly
newsletter that covers what is happening in the Tor community.

News from the 2014 Winter Developers’ Meeting in Reykjavík

Since 2010, the Tor Project’s core contributors have tried to meet twice
a year to enjoy the pleasure of each other’s company and move projects
forward through face-to-face discussions and hacking time. This year,
close to forty people attended the “2014 winter dev. meeting” [1], which
was held in Reykjavík, Iceland.

The team discussed over forty topics ranging from organizational matters
to highly technical design decisions. Among the highlights: many
sessions were focused on discussing and producing roadmaps — a mid-term
vision for the Tor Browser [2], a step-by-step plan for the Tor Instant
Messaging Bundle [3], detailed ideas for new bridge bundles [4], ways to
solve the research problems around guard nodes [5], and how to plan
little-t tor releases [6].

The meeting also enabled cross-team communication: pluggable transports
developers were able to discuss integration into the Tor Browser [7] and
the lifecycle of recommended transports [8], while the Tor Browser group
and the support teams met to see how to improve communications on both
sides [9]. One outcome is a plan to remix existing documentation to
create the Tor Browser User Manual [10].

Two days of intense discussion were followed by hands-on sessions which
saw their fair share of hacking and write-ups [11].

Some of the minutes are still missing, but there is already plenty to
read. Now that the developers have had to stop contemplating the
Northern Lights [12], some discussions [13] are already continuing on
the project’s various mailing lists. Stay tuned!


Miscellaneous news

Karsten Loesing announced [14] an IRC meeting to discuss the next steps
for the rewrite of Tor Weather, to be held on the OFTC #tor-dev channel
on Wednesday 26th February at 18:00 UTC. “Topics include reporting
progress made since the last meeting two weeks ago, making plans for the
next week, and possibly turning this project into a GSoC project”.


Nick Mathewson announced [15] the start of a weekly Tor developer’s
meeting, to be held on the OFTC #tor-dev channel, “for working on the
program ‘tor’. (This won’t cover all the other programs developed under
the Tor umbrella.)”.


The Tails developers will be holding [16] their next contributors’
meeting on the OFTC #tails-dev channel at 9pm UTC on March 5th;
“everyone interested in contributing to Tails is welcome.”.


Andrew Lewman submitted his monthly status report for January [17], and
also wrote up a report of his involvement in the recent Boston
CryptoParty [18].


Alexander Dietrich published [19] a multi-instance init script for Tor
(“basically the current official init script and’s
“instances” mechanism frankensteined together”, in Alexander’s words) in
response to a recent discussion on tor-relays [20].


Responding to a message from someone interested in writing a DNS-based
pluggable transport, George Kadianakis suggested [21] several ways in
which the existing obfsproxy code could be reworked to accommodate this.


George also recommended [22] that operators of obfs3 or ScrambleSuit
bridges install the python-gmpy package on their relays, as it can
significantly increase the speed of some cryptographic operations.


Jens Kubieziel wrote up [23] the results of an attempt to determine
whether the recent transition between the TAP and NTor handshake
protocols is connected to some users’ reports of hidden service


Max Jakob Maass published [24] the preliminary results of a test in
which the RIPE Atlas measurement API was used to retrieve the SSL
certificate of from as many countries as possible in
order to detect attempted attacks or censorship, and wondered whether it
might be worth running such a test on a regular basis.


With regard to a coming redesign of the “Volunteers” section on the Tor
Project’s website, Moritz Bartl wrote up a list of proposed volunteer
categories that was the fruit of a brainstorming session at the Tor
developers’ meeting, and asked for suggestions [25] of “obvious” missing
sections, as well as “acceptably-licensed” graphics that could serve as
icons for each category.


Nathan Freitas wrote [26] from the Tor developers’ meeting with a
request for help in compiling “user stories” on the Tor wiki: that is,
stories of the form “a [type of Tor user] wants to [some feature of a
Tor app] in order to [some reason related to security, privacy,
etc]” [27]. If you have any to add, please write them up on the
dedicated wiki page!


Yawning Angel sent out [28] a draft of a proposal to “extend the SOCKS5
protocol when communicating with pluggable transports to allow passing
more per-bridge meta-data to the transport and returning more meaningful
connection failure response codes back to Tor”.


Josh Ayers wrote [29] to the Tor-ramdisk list suggesting possible ways
to ensure that sufficient entropy is available to the kernel by the time
tor-ramdisk generates its long-term keys.


Tor help desk roundup

A common question the help desk receives is how to respond to the Tor
Browser Bundle’s download warning message. The message indicates that
the Tor Browser Bundle only routes browser traffic through Tor, not
traffic from any other application. For example, a PDF file that
connects automatically to a URL will not route its traffic through Tor
if the file is opened with an external application. An open bug ticket
for improving this warning message has more information about the
issue [30].


Upcoming events

Feb 26 18:00 UTC | Tor Weather development meeting
                 | #tor-dev,
Feb 28 17:00 UTC | Pluggable Transports development meeting
                 | #tor-dev,
Mar 01 10:00 EST | Andrew @ Boston/Cambridge Countersurveillance DiscoTech
                 | Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Mar 03-07        | Tor @ Financial Cryptography and Data Security 2014
                 | Barbados
Mar 05 21:00 UTC | Tails contributors’ meeting
                 | #tails-dev,
Mar 22-23        | Tor @ LibrePlanet 2014
                 | Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

This issue of Tor Weekly News has been assembled by harmony, Lunar,
Matt Pagan, Nicolas Vigier, Roger Dingledine, and George Kadianakis.

Want to continue reading TWN? Please help us create this newsletter.
We still need more volunteers to watch the Tor community and report
important news. Please see the project page [31], write down your
name and subscribe to the team mailing list [32] if you want to
get involved!

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