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The onion router

Tor (The Onion Router) is an implementation of second-generation onion routing.


Tor is a distributed censorship-resistant network designed to anonymize TCP-based applications.


Timing attacks

Tor fails when the attacker can correlate timing patterns on both ends of the communications channel.

Misconfigured software

  • DNS leaks

Some applications do name resolution directly (bypassing Tor proxy). In this case lookup requests leak significant information (e.g. website being visited).

  • Web browsers
  • Enabled scripts: Java and Flash applets may leak real IP address (see Metasploit Decloaking Engine);
  • Enabled cookies: web server can identify clients using unique cookies.
  • Direct connections in Instant Messaging also leak real IP address

TLS attacks

Various deviations of system time can be detected in TLS traffic (e.g. HTTPS traffic). Attacker can modify system time of the target computer (or group of them) via NTP and easily trace TLS connections from anonymous network.

Eavesdropping by exit nodes

Tor doesn't encrypt traffic between an exit node and the target server, so exit nodes are able to capture all unencrypted traffic. Malicious exit nodes can perform man-in-the-middle attacks on encrypted protocols.

Hidden services

Location hidden services are also vulnerable to timing correlation attack.