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A New Cell-Counting-Based Attack Against Tor

A New Cell-Counting-Based Attack Against Tor

Abstract

Various low-latency anonymous communication systems
such as Tor and Anonymizer have been designed to provide
anonymity service for users. In order to hide the communication
of users, most of the anonymity systems pack the application data
into equal-sized cells (e.g., 512 B for Tor, a known real-world, circuit-
based, low-latency anonymous communication network). Via
extensive experiments on Tor, we found that the size of IP packets
in the Tor network can be very dynamic because a cell is an application
concept and the IP layer may repack cells. Based on this
finding, we investigate a new cell-counting-based attack against
Tor, which allows the attacker to confirm anonymous communication
relationship among users very quickly. In this attack, by
marginally varying the number of cells in the target traffic at the
malicious exit onion router, the attacker can embed a secret signal
into the variation of cell counter of the target traffic. The embedded
signal will be carried along with the target traffic and arrive at the
malicious entry onion router. Then, an accomplice of the attacker
at themalicious entry onion router will detect the embedded signal
based on the received cells and confirm the communication relationship
among users. We have implemented this attack against
Tor, and our experimental data validate its feasibility and effectiveness.
There are several unique features of this attack. First, this
attack is highly efficient and can confirm very short communication
sessions with only tens of cells. Second, this attack is effective,
and its detection rate approaches 100% with a very low false positive
rate


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