Onion Anonymous Internet Uses Amazon Cloud

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Users of the Tor anonymous project can give back to the community by bridging to Amazon’s cloud

The Tor project for anonymous Internet use has asked its users to sign up to Amazon’s cloud service, and donate resources to Tor.

The Onion Router (TOR) project allows users to browse the web anonymously, avoiding surveillance and traffic analysis. It has asked its users to donate bandwidth to the Tor network by setting up a Tor bridge on Amazon EC2. This, said the organisation in a blog, would improve the “safety and speed at which users access an uncensored Internet.”

Prefab bridge to go

In its blog, the organisation said that “Setting up a Tor bridge on Amazon EC2 is simple and will only take you a couple of minutes. The images have been configured with automatic package updates and port forwarding, so you do not have to worry about Tor not working or the server not getting security updates. “

“Bridges are Tor relays that aren’t listed in the main directory. This means that to use a bridge, you’ll need to locate one first. And because there is no complete public list of all the bridges, they are also harder to block. A bridge will act as the first hop in a circuit, and will only forward traffic on to other relays in the Tor network,” it added.

According to the Tor blog, Amazon is introducing a free usage tier to help new customers get started in the cloud, which users can employ using preconfigured Tor Cloud images, limited to use no more than 40 GB of bandwidth out per month.

The group inhabits a grey area between defending civil liberties (for instance allowing freeom of speech in oppressive regimes) and allowing the transmission of copyright or illegal content. Originally designed for military use, “it is a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet. It also enables software developers to create new communication tools with built-in privacy features. Tor provides the foundation for a range of applications that allow organisations and individuals to share information over public networks without compromising their privacy,” according to its website.

According to comments posted on the blog, the organisation is looking at other providers like Rackspace, Hetzner and Softlayer to offer a similar service in the future, stating that these companies may soon allow custom images for clients. However, currently “Amazon is one of the only providers that allow users to run custom images and have a nice and easy-to-use interface.”