Send in your ideas. Deadline June 1, 2024

Last update: 2008-09-14

End: 2009-01

Tor hidden services

Protect publisher and users of the services against identification

The Tor Anonymity System's key functionality `Hidden Services' allows users to set up anonymous information services (like websites) that can only be accessed through the Tor network and therefore are protected against identification of the host that runs the services.

Using these Hidden Services, critical political and human rights information can be published in a way that both the publisher and users of the service are protected from identification. The current version of Tor Hidden Services has a number of drawbacks that hamper the active use of this important feature. The most serious limitation is the performance: the time it takes until a Hidden Service gets registered in the network and the latency of contact establishment when being accessed by a user. Due to design issues in the original Tor protocol, the connection to a new Hidden Service can take several minutes, leading most users to give up before the connection has been established. Using the Tor Hidden Services for direct interactive user-to-user communication (like for instant messaging) is nearly impossible due to this high latency in the Hidden Service circuit setup.

An evolution of the Tor protocol is proposed to speed up the Tor Hidden Services. The improved protocol will change the way circuits are set up. The end goal is to have the protocol change production ready and propagated to the Tor users within nine months. The resulting software will be published under the GPL license, like the rest of the Tor code. All deliverables will be fully public.