After Tor exploit, researchers develop new anonymity network

A team of researchers has created an anonymity network methodology that they believe is more efficient and more secure than existing anonymous networks such as Tor

The research team consists of computer science researchers from the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland.

The anonymity architecture uses a routing protocol known as a net network, or mixnet, to make it difficult to trace communications. “Each server permutes the order in which it receives messages before passing them on to the next,” according to a statement describing the secure network method. “The second server would permute them before sending them to the third, and so on.”

The researchers will present details of the network, named Riffle, at the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium in Germany next week.

The team sought to resolve vulnerabilities affecting Tor, which has been exploited by law enforcement, most notably the FBI's use of a “network investigative technique” (NIT) used to identify anonymous users, brought to light during a criminal trial involving members of the child pornography site Playpen

Honeypots and other entrapment methods “are a real issue” for anonymous networks, said Albert Kwon, an MIT graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science and the lead author on the research paper.