Tor Weekly News — February 18th, 2015

Harmony harmony01 at
Wed Feb 18 17:46:03 UTC 2015

Tor Weekly News                                      February 18th, 2015

Welcome to the seventh issue in 2015 of Tor Weekly News, the weekly
newsletter that covers what’s happening in the Tor community.

Onion services

Anonymous web services hosted in the Tor network [1] have until now been
referred to as “hidden services”. Although this name accurately
describes one of their properties, it does not convey some of the other
benefits that the system provides, like end-to-end encryption without a
purchased SSL certificate, or self-authenticating domain names outside
of the commercial DNS system. Furthermore, as Aaron Johnson points
out [2], words like “hidden” and “dark” have an unnecessarily negative

Aaron and other members of the SponsorR team declared themselves in
favor of using the word “onion” (as in “onion routing” [3]) to
characterize Tor-protected web services. “Hidden services” could be
renamed “onion services”, while websites offered as onion services are
“onionsites”; an onion service’s URL is its “onion address”, while the
dreaded “Dark Web” becomes simply “onionspace”.

A full list of new and more precise terminology is in Aaron’s message
and on the Tor wiki [4]; please feel free to contribute to the
discussion on the tor-dev mailing list with your thoughts.


Miscellaneous news

Nathan Freitas of the Guardian Project announced [5] the release of
version 15-alpha-3 of Orbot. This release includes more work on VPN
support, and builds on last week’s early release of the PLUTO
library [6] to offer support for meek [7], although it is not currently
possible to use both at the same time. See Nathan’s announcement for
usage instructions and download links.


Yawning Angel asked for comments [8] on an implementation of a
proposal [9] to let Tor create “ephemeral” onion services, using key
material that is supplied at runtime rather than stored on the disk. See
Yawning’s post for a detailed explanation of the concept and a link to
the new code; however, trying to run this untested and unreviewed new
so don’t do that.


Yawning also announced [10] version 0.0.4 of obfs4proxy, which “is more
useful for the Tor Browser people than anyone else, since it means that
the next build can remove the old go.crypto cruft from the build
process, and the ScrambleSuit client provider can be switched over to
obfs4proxy like obfs2 and obfs3 have been”.


SiNA Rabbani announced that Faravahar, the directory authority which he
operates, will be moving to a new IP address on Friday [11].


Thanks to cuanto [12] for running a mirror of the Tor Project website
and software!


Thomas White published [13] a guide [14] to configuring an Nginx
webserver as a hidden service: “It isn’t intended to be a hardening
guide or an ultra secure way of hosting, but it is for people who want
to casually publish some static HTML files or with a little extra
configuration to host some applications”.


Collin Anderson and the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab made a joint
submission [15] to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the
promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and
expression, examining the importance of digital security software such
as Tor in upholding free expression and the right to privacy.


carlo von lynX wondered [16] about the truth of the statement that “it
would take latencies in the order of hours to fully make communications
impossible to shape and correlate”. Roger Dingledine clarified [17]:
“It’s actually worse than that — we have no idea. I’d love to have a
graph where the x axis is how much additional overhead (latency,
bandwidth, whatever) we’re willing to add, and the y axis is how much
additional security (anonymity, privacy, whatever) we can get. Currently
we have zero data points for this graph.”


Upcoming events

  Feb 18 13:30 UTC | little-t tor development meeting
                   | #tor-dev,
  Feb 23 18:00 UTC | Tor Browser online meeting
                   | #tor-dev,
  Feb 23 18:00 UTC | OONI development meeting
                   | #ooni,
  Feb 24 18:00 UTC | little-t tor patch workshop
                   | #tor-dev,
  Mar 01 - 06      | Tor Winter Dev Meeting 2015
                   | Valencia, Spain
  Mar 24 - 25      | Roger and Jake @ RightsCon 2015
                   | Manila, Philippines

This issue of Tor Weekly News has been assembled by Harmony and Roger

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