Shining light in dark places: Understanding the tor network

Damon McCoy, Kevin Bauer, Dirk Grunwald, Tadayoshi Kohno, Douglas Sicker

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


    To date, there has yet to be a study that characterizes the usage of a real deployed anonymity service. We present observations and analysis obtained by participating in the Tor network. Our primary goals are to better understand Tor as it is deployed and through this understanding, propose improvements. In particular, we are interested in answering the following questions: (1) How is Tor being used? (2) How is Tor being mis-used? (3) Who is using Tor? To sample the results, we show that web traffic makes up the majority of the connections and bandwidth, but non-interactive protocols consume a disproportionately large amount of bandwidth when compared to interactive protocols. We provide a survey of how Tor is being misused, both by clients and by Tor router operators. In particular, we develop a method for detecting exit router logging (in certain cases). Finally, we present evidence that Tor is used throughout the world, but router participation is limited to only a few countries.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationPrivacy Enhancing Technologies - 8th International Symposium, PETS 2008, Proceedings
    Number of pages14
    StatePublished - 2008
    Event8th Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium, PETS 2008 - Leuven, Belgium
    Duration: Jul 23 2008Jul 25 2008

    Publication series

    NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
    Volume5134 LNCS
    ISSN (Print)0302-9743
    ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


    Other8th Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium, PETS 2008

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Theoretical Computer Science
    • General Computer Science


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