Tor is no longer just a new software released by some MIT students; it has become an integral part of our lives and will certainly remain so for those who care about their rights online. That’s why I decided to create this non-technical thread to foster a sense of curiosity about the fascinating things each of us knows about Tor.
For instance, I recently discovered that Tor used to have 5 nodes instead of 3. It would be nice to have a thread that compiles all these curious aspects of Tor’s past.
I’ll start by sharing an article called EFF Joins Forces with Tor Software Project, which helped me understand the importance of Tor. It was written by the EFF.
What would you like to share?
For me the most fun things were to learn how Tor itself works. Namely
- how it’s possible to send data to a node through an intermediary node without the intermediary node being able to read what’s inside (spoiler: public key cryptography)
- how it’s possible to send traffic to a node without the node knowing your address (spoiler: send it through another node).
- how it’s possible to choose a circuit locally, to make each node send traffic to a node that you chose (spoiler: just ask each node).
The next most fun things were figuring out how censorship-circumvention technologies work. Namely Snowflake. It’s quite complicated, compared to things like VPNs, understanding it requires you understanding a bunch of other concepts like domain-fronting and WebRTC. It took me a long while to understand why certain things the way that they are and not another way. For example, if a broker is reachable by a censored client and is good-willing, why do we need proxies, why can’t we just tunnel the traffic through the broker (spoiler: bandwidth limitations).