2018 04 Dark Web Hidden Services

Location: Upper Boardroom, First United Church, 16 William St W, Waterloo, ON N2L 1J3 (enter from church back parking lot door, upper boardroom is next to the entrance to the church sanctuary, upstairs https://osm.org/go/ZXna93PBA)
Date: Monday, April 16, 2018
Time: 7:00-9:00PM

What is the Dark Web? Is it full of bad guys? What are Hidden Services? Aren’t those illegal? Why would a Non-Profit organization want to use the Dark Web? Why should a Non-Profit organization make their online services available as Hidden Services? What software can we use to access the Dark Web and create Hidden Services?

We’ll have a demonstration of Tor (https://www.torproject.org/) and I2P (https://geti2p.net/en/), and have a round-table discussion of the benefits and pitfalls of using them.

–Bob Jonkman & Marc Paré


Meeting Notes

  • In attendance were 14 members out of 39 signed up for the meeting.
  • Laurel video recorded session for Bob
  • Most people at the meeting are also Meetup members
  • The intent was to present both Tor as well as I2P, however, the Tor demonstration and background information took longer than expected. There will be a follow-up meeting covering I2P in August 2018.

Tor Browser – getting down and dirty with Tor – the basics

  • Bob’s Tor slideshow presentation will be made available on KWNPSA Wiki site (coming soon)
  • this presentation of the Tor browser is aimed to admins who would consider the use of Tor beneficial to their organization and members
  • Tor still needs mode of authentification
  • best practices — use Tor as is from the official Tor website and keep it updated, Avoid any use of pre-modified Tor clients from any other sites.
  • Tor is basically a hardened version of Firefox
  • DO NOT USE BitTorrent (any client) inside of the Tor browser as the BitTorrent identifies IP addresses
    • BitTorrent does not work well on Tor
    • Q/ Can you use ghosting? A/ Not sure, but if tunnelling, will reveal your ghosting IP address but bittorent will still show data
  • Tor tends to be slow and laggy
  • The use of Tor may harm your reputation if you are found to use Tor with certain ISP’s! Your IP may become exposed/found out if you make use of the wrong exit node. Some ISP’s or sites may may try to ban you from any future connection, or, worse case scenario, In certain cases, there may be possibility of having your own ISP blacklisted by using Tor.
      • Using Tor may raise suspicion by legit sites, where they may wonder why the use of Tor is needed to visit their site (What do you have to hide?)
    • if you make use of some poorly chosen Tor exit nodes, they may be connected/linked to other nefarious sites.
    • Tekksavvy is good at providing Tor exit nodes, most ISP’s are not relatively warm to the idea of the use of Tor
  • see slides re: Tor failure modes
    • note that CAPTCHA is hardened and will reveal your identity
  • The concept behind the Tor browser was initially conceived by the US defence project

Question (members) & Answer (Bob)

  • Why make use of a good and legit exit node? — Helps protect your identity and also helps harden Tor for its use in countries where rights abuse is pervasive.
  • Is Tor easy to configure? — Tor is easy to misconfigure.
  • How active is Tor’s development? — Patches are constant and often.
  • Tor breach? — If in jurisdiction where Tor is monitored, some nefarious entry nodes could be made available through Tor traffic and may make that entry node vulnerable. German nodes (entry and exit) are popular.
  • Is there encryption node-to-node? — Tor is onion routed and encrypted multiple times … see slide “How Tor Works: 2”
    • The nodes (onion peels) are known only by certain devices, but not all in the nodal chains.
  • How many node layers are there? — You may configure Tor to use as many layers as you need but 3 layers are really all you need as more layers add to latency. With the arrival of Quantum decryption, it may become easier to decrypt the Tor nodal routes, but hopefully there will be an equivalent Quantum solution for an updated Tor browser.
  • 80% of net is encrypted (https) — However that is only for 1 layer; under Tor, layers are more numerous. Under https, we still see some list of certificate authorities that are unusual (Turkey, Tawain Telephone Service etc.), there are still some bogus certificates. The use of Tor makes it more difficult for bogus authorities to have any influence over your browsing.
  • Do we know the number of compromised exit nodes? The number of compromised exit nodes are still unknown but research on such is being done, some research, for example, is being doen at UW.
  • Can an exit node be a relay node? — Yes. however it is not recommended to run an exit node, running a relay node is most likely safe enough.
  • is it possible to set up your exit node but only for individuals that you wish to use that particular exit node? — Not sure. Member suggests that you could possibly use a pre-configured Tor rc file. But you would have to carry the exit node detail on some physical device and be possibly stopped at borders. Bob usually recommends using off-the-shelf hardware bought in destination country to avoid being stopped at the border.
  • Can blockchain technology be used for Tor? — Not sure.
  • How many Tor devs? — Tor is developed by many, some at institutions such as universities.
  • What is the adoption rate? — Not really sure, however, making use of VPN’s is popular, Tor could also be configured to do the same; therefore Tor is seeing much more takeup in some business models.
  • Does it work on cellphones? — ORBOT, but it is extremely slow compared to Tor
  • Can we use it with VPN? — Yes, a little more complexity is involved, but yes they do work well together.
  • Are there frequent improvements and updates of the project? — Yes, There are hopes that perhaps streaming will work well later, but browsing websites is still a little painful.

Tor installation

  • Download from site is easy
  • Do not change the default settings, even screen size may be tracked.
    • to add a server, must add a few line to the Tor .rc file “torrc”

Round-table discussion

  • What would you use this for?
  • Use for human rights organizations, to communicate with members or view pertinent websites that are blocked in certain countries.
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