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Tor-Enabled Browser For the iPad, and Easy Tor Nodes on EC2 75

An anonymous reader writes "While there has been a port of Tor for jailbroken iOS devices for a long time, there was no way to use it if you did not want to lose your warranty. Now it looks like Apple has approved a Web browser for the iPad called Covert Browser, which includes a Tor client. If you look at the first screenshot on the author's page it looks like you can even select the Exit node. According to App Shopper it already hit place 64 in the iPad/Utilites category." And from another (of course) anonymous reader comes a link to CmdrTaco's take on another instance of Tor breaking into the world of "real users." As he notes, the Tor Cloud Project has posted simple instructions for installing EC2 Tor nodes using free-tier VMs (or paid nodes for roughly $30/month).
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Tor-Enabled Browser For the iPad, and Easy Tor Nodes on EC2

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  • I didn't think there was any way to select the exit node with TOR. Is this possible?

      • by m50d ( 797211 )
        It's already the case that if you're running an exit node, someone can do something very illegal via your connection - and that's always going to be the case with any system of this kind. So while that journal is kind of interesting, I don't think it really changes the proposition any.
        • Sure it does, look at it this way: You are attacker Andy and you know Bob runs an exit node. Now you don't like Bob, you think he's a douche. so you use the trick outlined in TFA to route a BUNCH of nasty activity through Bob's node, so that the government takes notice. Sure EVENTUALLY Bob will be cleared, but how long will he be in PMITA prison before that day comes?

          Before anybody says that can't happen don't forget a guy in FLA basically lost 2 years of his life and over $300,000 in legal fees because th

          • by m50d ( 797211 )
            I'm not saying that can't happen, I'm saying how is Bob at any more risk from that than without it? If Bob's worried about getting sent to prison because lots of CP gets downloaded through his connection, that's going to happen any time he runs a tor exit node (or I2P, or any similar system), with or without this behaviour.
    • YOU DO NOT LOOSE YOUR WARRANTY UNLESS, your modifications were directly and significantly attributable to the malfunction of the device. This is established law. Jailbreaking is does not violate your warranty. There's even an exemption to the DMCA to allow you to break it to enable other content and providers.

      • A priori, Covert Browser cannot be trusted nearly so much as the real Tor project because Covert Browser is closed source. You might trust Roger Dingledine personally though because he's a big wig in the Tor Project. I'd hope he permits others within the Tor Project to review his code and he verifies that Apple hasn't recompiled Covert Browser with modifications.

  • Is it just me or does clustering a large number of Tor nodes in a small handful of commercial data centers sort of defeat the purpose when it comes to packet sniffing, anonymity (commercial service has physical + RAM access) and bypassing regional censorship?

    If user A goes through Tor node B and exits at node C, and B and C are both hosted on EC2 where everything that happens on B and C could be secretly logged for all we know...A isn't very anonymous is he?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mfreed ( 217310 )

      There *is* real privacy concern if many Tor nodes move to one cloud provider, and particularly if the Tor nodes are the first and last hop of the chain. In fact, we have a project called "Cloud-based Onion Routing" (COR) that looks at this problem.

      COR discusses some policy approaches to make deployment on *multiple* cloud providers safer, as well as introducing another layer of indirection that makes Tor/COR market-friendly: We can sell (or give away) access to this higher-performance COR network, while sti

      • by mfreed ( 217310 )

        I was pointed to the fact that Tor Cloud nodes are only relays, rather than guard (first) or exit (last) nodes in the Tor circuit.


        This obvious limits some of the concerns...but it's the number (and bandwidth) of guards and exits that is much more a problem in Tor than the number of relay-only nodes.

  • by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @01:35PM (#38061862) Journal
    I seriously question whether Tor is even a useful service anymore. Any government spook agency can start up a whole fleet of exit nodes, and mine the data they get through them, as can anyone else, really.
    • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <> on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @01:39PM (#38061932) Journal

      That's true for plaintext traffic, but if you use HTTPS with an anti-MITM plugin like Perspectives/Convergence, and assuming the government in question can't get free and easy access to the site's private key (big assumption, I know), then traffic sniffing isn't possible.

      More importantly, it can make connections untraceable, and if you don't send any identifiable information through the connection, then it doesn't matter if the contents can be seen.

      That said I think I2P is better both for darknet hosting and anonymization, it has a number of technical advantages over Tor.

      • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

        I think that snooping is going to be a bit harder than some think unless a government is willing to sniff every connection on the network. Now, if half of the relay nodes end up on EC2 as a result of this article then that is a different story - if Amazon lets them snoop the RAM of these nodes without a warrant then they can probably get the keys to half the network.

        My understanding is that most of Tor's weaknesses stem from one of its requirements - providing access to the general internet. It has many c

    • by bonch ( 38532 )

      Well, nothing on the internet is truly anonymous. At best, you can just throw up roadblocks.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 )

        Even if that were true (which it's not), an open wifi AP within driving distance of you is the mother of all roadblocks.

        • by bonch ( 38532 )

          Even if that were true (which it's not)

          It's absolutely true. In fact, an open WiFi within driving distance of you means you were capable of using it, which could be another piece in a case against you.

          • It's absolutely true. In fact, an open WiFi within driving distance of you means you were capable of using it, which could be another piece in a case against you.

            In the case against me? And they picked me, John Q. Randomdude, as the suspect because ???

            • by bonch ( 38532 )

              In the case against me? And they picked me, John Q. Randomdude, as the suspect because ???

              Any number of reasons already stated in this discussion that might lead to your exposure to a government. If you're within driving distance of a specific unsecured wifi, you can no longer convincingly deny that you would even be using that wifi, and it becomes another piece in an investigation. You're a fool if you think you can truly be anonymous on the internet. All you can do is throw up enough roadblocks to make yourself not worth going after unless you've done something truly egregious.

              • Still doesn't answer the question. See here:


              • OPs method is pretty anonymous. How would you reverse it? You'd have to get caught on camera somewhere, say if you walked into the library to use it and they had security cams and the investigator pulls the tape assuming its still available and sees you physically there using the wifi, but I think OP is talking a little more remote than my simple example. Further, if you access an AP and it logs your MAC, the MAC record can be traced to your NIC's MAC. macmakeup.exe takes care of this in under 1 mb of h

                • Or directional antennas and overpowered amplifiers.
    • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @01:59PM (#38062200) Homepage
      Not only that, but I find that there's a lot of nefarious traffic going on over TOR. Last few times I've tried it, visited 4Chan, and found that the particular IP of my exit node had been banned for uploading child porn. Now i realize that every technology like this will have bad uses and good uses. but I'd think twice about hosting an exit node, unless you enjoy the SWAT team knocking down your door at 3 AM.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Hasn't happened that many times from what I've read. Just a handful of incidents to report. I have run an exit node. I haven't run one for more than three or four months. This was a US exit node. The thing you will get if you run an exit node that isn't properly setup is RIAA/MPAA dmca take down requests. The requests don't make any sense since you aren't hosting anything. Your ISP is unlikely to accept this though so you do need to set it up properly; All your ISPs cares about is not getting those stupid r

      • by spazdor ( 902907 )

        Why would anyone access 4chan through Tor except to upload child porn?

        • Because in some countries any kind of porn is deemed illegal, as is much of the conversation on 4chan. 4chan is the home of "anonymous". In some places just visiting sites with such associations could lead to an investigation if someone doesn't like you. Personally, I was just testing out Tor and visited a bunch of sites, some for no particular reason at all.
        • Ban evasion.
    • There's always hidden nodes. No exit nodes needed.

    • by mmcuh ( 1088773 )
      That has always been possible. The only thing Tor tries to provide is anonymity, not protection against eavesdropping.
  • Apple likes to advertise "it just works" - but Tor often doesn't.

    • Sounds like you had your browser pointed directly at the Tor proxy. You're supposed to point it at a caching proxy server which then goes through the Tor proxy, acting like a "download accelerator" by aggressively fetching data to produce a reliable output. Still not perfect, but hitting Refresh never killed anyone.

    • i've never had a problem with tor, other than it being a bit slow, and i have been running it regularly for a good while now.

  • why would i pay for something like this?

    • Because you voted for curated computing with your wallet and that's what you got. Oh you wanted to just compile an existing Tor client and browser yourself? Too bad. Jailbreak and lose your warranty or pay up for a dev license.

      Welcome to the future.

    • by 666999 ( 999666 )

      Because it's bundled into a simple-to-use package that will have free lifetime updates and comes with all the benefits of surfing on iOS?

      I'm satisfied with Atomic & Knowtilus, each of which I got on sale for 99 cents a while back. Use appshopper [] to find deals.

  • Refreshing to see an app weigh in at a reasonable size considering its purpose. Downloaded it and everything seems to work well.

    • Indeed. Opera Mini for the iPhone comes in at, like, 3MB, but the flashlight app that does nothing by turn the video camera light on is almost 7MB? What the fuck?
  • ...Apple does not allow Tor itself in the app store, which would be useful for every single TCP-using app, but it allows a single browser that's bundling Tor?


    • In windows TOR binds to localhost ( and you can channel any traffic through it, not sure how it runs on apple, but if there is a localhost on an ipad for Tor to use, you can channel any app that supports proxying through, but I'm speaking from a windows environment... ipads tend to be a bit more locked down, no idea though, just throwing it out there.

      • by zoloto ( 586738 )
        I have a vpn with the username of "tor" that I can use from the iPad. keeping all the bookmarks in the browser and it's easy to use. not sure why anyone needs an app though.

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