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Author Topic: Tor Idea.  (Read 7862 times)
rdonohoe
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January 31, 2012, 11:00:28 PM
 #1

Hi,

I really like Bitcoin and have been becoming more and more interested in Tor with Sopa and Acta being discussed. But Tor is quite slow, which I think is due to a lack of relays.

I was thinking of a way to inventiveize being a relay. One idea I had, also I should preface that I don't have much tech experience so don't know how realistic my thoughts are, but I thought that the Tot client could make users do some Bitcoin mining, then for all the mined coins to be distributed fairly between those that act as relays.

Not sure how many use Tor in order to be even capable of competing with pools to get coins to be worthwhile for relays.

Again, just an idea from an uninformed user.

Best,

R
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January 31, 2012, 11:12:16 PM
 #2

My gut reaction was: no way is this going to happen, mainly because people who mine usually want the Bitcoins for themselves. On further reflection, I think this isn't quite impossible to get working - maybe in the TOR userbase there are people who'd be willing to part with some GPU cycles to support the system, even if they wouldn't be interested in mining as such. I think you'd have to make it voluntary, though, with the TOR installer / executable asking the user if they're willing to mine, and my feeling is people tend to say no when they're asked to do something extra.

In other words, there may well be a bunch of people who'd go for this, but whether it's big enough to justify the effort, I don't know. The biggest problem is, you'd probably have to get it included into the TOR client, which is likely to be an uphill battle as it would probably seem somewhat tangential to their actual focus.

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January 31, 2012, 11:15:45 PM
 #3

That's an interesting idea.  I wouldn't make the clients mine, though.  Not everyone has access to a reasonable mining rig.  Just have the clients pay BTC for premium bandwidth.  For instance, offer to pay 0.001BTC per MB of transit.  That's highly profitable for the relays - it's a 100x markup over premium internet transit.  And it'd be a reasonable price for many users who want to go fast.

The two problems I see: 1, you'd have to prepay for your bandwidth, though that's not so bad when you can do very small microtransactions with BTC;  2, if you get your BTC from a non-anonymous source it defeats the purpose of TOR.  Clients who care could mine their own; most won't care since they're not worried about a threat strong enough to trace the coins back.

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rdonohoe
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January 31, 2012, 11:18:37 PM
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My gut reaction was: no way is this going to happen, mainly because people who mine usually want the Bitcoins for themselves. On further reflection, I think this isn't quite impossible to get working - maybe in the TOR userbase there are people who'd be willing to part with some GPU cycles to support the system, even if they wouldn't be interested in mining as such. I think you'd have to make it voluntary, though, with the TOR installer / executable asking the user if they're willing to mine, and my feeling is people tend to say no when they're asked to do something extra.

In other words, there may well be a bunch of people who'd go for this, but whether it's big enough to justify the effort, I don't know. The biggest problem is, you'd probably have to get it included into the TOR client, which is likely to be an uphill battle as it would probably seem somewhat tangential to their actual focus.

I understand that people who mine want to keep them for themselves, but I saw this as more of a 'fee' for using Tor and rewarding those to give services to Tor i.e. you pay with GPU cycles which can be anonymous I assume also many usign Tor are from oppressive regimes where they may not be able to afford fiat currency payments. I accept it is tangential to Tor's aim and would be uphill to get them to include it, but they idea was to increase the usability of Tor by making it beneficial for people to act as relays.
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January 31, 2012, 11:22:11 PM
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That's an interesting idea.  I wouldn't make the clients mine, though.  Not everyone has access to a reasonable mining rig.  Just have the clients pay BTC for premium bandwidth.  For instance, offer to pay 0.001BTC per MB of transit.  That's highly profitable for the relays - it's a 100x markup over premium internet transit.  And it'd be a reasonable price for many users who want to go fast.

The two problems I see: 1, you'd have to prepay for your bandwidth, though that's not so bad when you can do very small microtransactions with BTC;  2, if you get your BTC from a non-anonymous source it defeats the purpose of TOR.  Clients who care could mine their own; most won't care since they're not worried about a threat strong enough to trace the coins back.

Well that's good idea. I would happily pay for premium bandwidth. Getting coins from anonymous sources would hopefully become easier in future when BTC becomes more widespread. You could meet someone and pay cash or whatever.

R
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February 01, 2012, 12:23:31 AM
 #6

Having given it a bit more thought, I don't think paying BTC for MB-transit would work.  Paying every relay node from the same wallet would break TOR's anonymity completely.  Effectively you may as well pay a single node for VPN service, which is already available for BTC.  The only way around it would be to have hundreds of wallets to pay each relay node separately and that just isn't practical.

So I think I like your original idea of paying with mining.  You could simply connect through the TOR net as usual, except along each hop you get_work for mining.  Each share you submit will buy a small amount of bandwidth - say, 100 KB per share.

This would work well in several ways: 1) it preserves anonymity, since each get_work is completely independent and ephemeral; 2) it's much faster since submitted shares are instantly good, whereas regular transactions take time to confirm; 3) it avoids having to prepay in relatively large blocks to avoid excessive transaction fees.

Having done a bit of mental math, CPU mining would be marginally usable.  Your average speed wouldn't be very good but you could prepay ahead a little and get fast bursts as you need them - typical web surfing would probably work fine, much better than TOR is now.  And anyone with a GPU would have all the bandwidth they'd reasonably need...  They could torrent over TOR.

So in short, your idea is good, and you had it right from the start.  Now you've got me thinking about other ways that mining shares could be used as microtransaction currency.

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February 01, 2012, 12:39:58 AM
 #7

Users can choose to mine and get better connection from the relays (who earn the coins) or choose not to and maybe get the usual slow connection?

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February 01, 2012, 12:45:06 AM
 #8

That's the idea.  More likely it would be two tiers of nodes: fast ones that require the fee (and can therefore afford tons of bandwidth to service as much traffic as possible), and the regular nodes that provide free service (and are pretty slow because tons of people are using them for everything).

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February 01, 2012, 12:51:26 AM
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I think some sort of pool hosted as a tor hidden service, then use tor to send the
new blocks to workers and proof of work back doesn't need to be extremely fast.

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February 01, 2012, 12:51:42 AM
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That's the idea.  More likely it would be two tiers of nodes: fast ones that require the fee (and can therefore afford tons of bandwidth to service as much traffic as possible), and the regular nodes that provide free service (and are pretty slow because tons of people are using them for everything).

The "fee" being the clients computer doing a little mining, correct?

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February 01, 2012, 12:54:28 AM
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The bottleneck in TOR is just that more nodes are needed? More of the special exit nodes specifically?

Can exit nodes be configured to only help customers who have signed with a certain key?

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February 01, 2012, 01:24:49 AM
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The "fee" being the clients computer doing a little mining, correct?

Yes.  Just like a mining pool you would get work then submit partial results as proof that you're performing the work.

The bottleneck in TOR is just that more nodes are needed? More of the special exit nodes specifically?

Can exit nodes be configured to only help customers who have signed with a certain key?

Yes.  There is only a limited supply of people willing to donate free bandwidth for other people's anonymity.  There are enough that web browsing is usable but slow.  If it generated enough revenue to cover bandwidth costs, I bet there would be a ton more relay nodes.

Authenticating to exit nodes would weaken the anonymity unless your credentials are short-lived.

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February 01, 2012, 01:37:22 AM
 #13

So....like a company that allows you to anonymise what sites you're visiting, that allows you to pay in bitcoins for the bandwidth.  Like a proxy....or "virtual private network"....


By rough count there are around 30 companies that do that on the main bitcoin website.


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February 01, 2012, 01:42:48 AM
 #14

TOR provides better anonymity than VPNs / proxies.  It relays through three nodes: the entry node doesn't know what you're visiting; the exit node doesn't know who you are; and the middle node prevents the other two from being able to compare notes.  Placing those nodes in different countries prevents them from being compromised by court orders to log traffic, for example.  It's also advantageous that each of your connections can't be traced back to a single payment address.

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February 01, 2012, 01:51:53 AM
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This is probably relevant http://cs.gmu.edu/~astavrou/research/Par_PET_2008.pdf
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February 01, 2012, 01:56:19 AM
 #16

I just read the abstract.  That's good stuff if it works.  I'll read the rest of it when I get a chance.  Thanks.

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February 01, 2012, 02:12:12 AM
 #17

reminder:bitcoin isn''t anonymous but can be made so

I think there are premium tor nodes right?

I thought only the exit nodes are slow right? ... Because they block some access, for example to the clearnet
rdonohoe
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February 01, 2012, 02:37:45 AM
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I'm glad that people at least some potential in the idea. I would love to see Tor's quality increase. As I said I haven't enough know how to pursue this myself. But if people did see potential I am will to help in whatever way I can. I can contribute to a bounty, that's probably my only useful skill in this regard. :-) Unless there's need for an EU Banking Lawyer.
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February 01, 2012, 03:10:41 AM
 #19

a tor relay pool is a brilliant idea.  +1.
Slush already runs a hidden service for miners on his pool via Tor.

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February 01, 2012, 06:34:56 AM
 #20

p2pool works fine over tor too

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