October 2010 Progress Report

New Releases

Design, develop, and implement enhancements that make Tor a better
tool for users in censored countries.

Nick continued to work on the codebase around microdescriptors. Microdescriptors will allow clients on very low bandwidth connections to use the tor network more quickly than waiting to download the current directory information.

Grow the Tor network and user base. Outreach.

Preconfigured privacy (circumvention) bundles for USB or LiveCD.
Working with the TA(I)LS LiveCD/LiveUSB team to get architecture designs, specifications, and goals written down and published. The desired state is to be able to analyze the live system for a number of security and anonymity properties through security and code audits.

Bridge relay and bridge authority work.

Mike began investigating the odd reality that we only report 500 bridges available at any point in time. Hundreds to thousands of people become bridges each week, but only around 500 are reported as being available at any point in time. This seems an odd coincidence to Mike and others. Research continues.

Scalability, load balancing, directory overhead, efficiency.

  • Karsten incorporated Kevin Berry's Google Summer of Code work into the metrics portal, https://blog.torproject.org/blog/tor-metrics-google-summer-code-2010. This enables all graphs to be dynamically generated with minimal load to the server.
  • Karsten and Sebastian continue to research an alternate way to more accurately count Tor users while still preserving their anonymity by design. They expect to have a report out in December 2010.
  • Mike fixed some bugs relating to Bandwidth and Exit Authorities. These fixes are for code stability.
  • Update to the October 1 2010 Maxmind GeoLite Country database. This updates the mapping of IP Address to Geolocation of relays.
  • Nick commits a huge number of bug fixes, code refactoring, and general logic corrections as discovered through code audits, buffer events integration, and volunteer reviews.
  • Karsten extended total relay bandwidth graph, https://metrics.torproject.org/network.html#bandwidth by bandwidth history as
    reported by relays and added new graph on directory bytes written by relays, https://metrics.torproject.org/network.html#dirbytes.
  • Karsten changed most servlets to JSPs, added database connection pool, made the
    Tomcat application generate CSV files upon request, etc. These changes
    are not visible to most people, but they were necessary to clean up the
    grown metrics website. As a result, it's much easier now to add new
    graphs to the website.
  • Karsten helped a volunteer to write a Python version of the VisiTor script, https://metrics.torproject.org/tools.html#visitor,
    and wrote a spec for the exit list file format, https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/ticket/2064#comment:1.
  • Karsten found a new approach for combining directory request statistics from multiple relays to estimate total user numbers. The result is a much more reliable metric than the one we're using right now, https://metrics.torproject.org/users.html#direct-users. Asked Olaf Selke (operator of blugmagie), Teun Nijssen (operator of TORy), and a few more to turn on directory request statistics on their relays. Updated tech report on Privacy-preserving Ways to Estimate the Number of Tor Users with new results, https://gitweb.torproject.org/karsten/metrics.git/blob_plain/refs/heads….

Footprints from Tor Browser Bundle.
Tor Browser Bundle in OS X contains sandboxing technology by Robert Malmgren AB, http://www.romab.com/. The sandbox is designed to both protect the user from security exploits in Firefox and restrict the footprint left on a system by the Tor Browser Bundle. Currently, this solution is OS X only.

Translation work, ultimately a browser-based approach.
Updated translations in Spanish, Ukrainian, Mandarin, Dutch, German, Greek, Urdu, Italian, and Icelandic.