For quite some time now, there have been concerns over how the FBI managed to unmask Tor users. Given the nature of this anonymity software, it should not be possible for law enforcement to reveal somebody’s real IP address. Selfrando, a new technique developed by academics and researchers, should prevent this from happening in the future.
What Does Selfrando Do Exactly?
It has become evident using anonymity software such as the Tor browser is not enough to protect user privacy. Selfrando is a new technique which will be unveiled next month, even though the Tor Project is allegedly using this solution already. After all, the primary purpose of this software is to provide anonymity at all times.
De-anonymization of the Tor protocol has been a growing concern over the past few months. More and more deep web users are busted by law enforcement, yet no one has an idea as to how they are identified, to begin with. Selfrando should make it impossible to do so, as it protects users against memory-corruption attacks.
Up until this point, the Tor Browser is using Address Space Layout Randomization. Unfortunately, this technique is flawed, and there are various ways to bypass this layer of protection. Selfrando makes it impossible for attacks to observe binaries during the download. As a result, an assailant would have no clue as to where to point his or her attack.
What is even more interesting is how selfrando can be implemented into Tor without significant changes to the browser’s source code. Moreover, this new technique would make in cost-inefficient for assailants to attack Tor users as well. As these attacks become more expensive to execute, there should be fewer de-anonymization attacks in general. The only exception comes in the form of law enforcement, though, as they have nearly unlimited budgets to track down potential criminals.
It will be interesting to see this technique in action at next month’s Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium. Protection against de-anonymization attacks is a positive thing for Tor users, albeit this does not warrant unlimited illegal behavior or activity on the Internet. Exciting times are ahead for privacy advocates, by the look of things.
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