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Tor has been the go-to for anonymous communication online for years now — and that has made it one of the juiciest targets possible to the likes of the NSA and FBI. A new anonymizing protocol from MIT may prove more resilient against such determined and deep-pocketed attackers. The potential problem with Tor is that if an adversary gets enough nodes on the network, they can work together to track the progress of packets. They might not be able to tell exactly what is being sent, but they can put together a breadcrumb trail tying a user to traffic coming out of an exit node — at least, that’s the theory. A team of researchers led by MIT grad student Albert Kwon (with help from EPFL) aims to leapfrog Tor’s anonymizing technique with a brand new platform called Riffle. “Tor aims to provide the lowest latency possible, which opens it up to certain attacks,” wrote Kwon in an email to TechCrunch. “Riffle aims to provide as much traffic analysis resistance as possible.” In addition to wrapping messages in multiple layers of encryption (the eponymous technique of Tor, “The Onion Router”), Riffle adds two extra measures meant to baffle would-be attackers. First, servers switch up the order in which received messages are passed on to the next node, preventing anyone scrutinizing incoming and outgoing traffic from tracking packets using metadata. View the full article
MIT researchers have a great new way to protect your privacy on your smartphone: Stop giving your data away. It doesnâ€™t take a PhD to come up with this statement, but such a feat is clearly easier said than done. Even without NSA spying, a growing number of mobile and web-based apps collect information about us from our devices in exchange for providing a service. Want directions or an idea for lunch nearby? Allowing Yelp to know your location could help. Data collection is also useful when apps can aggregate information for many anonymous users and provide extra services. For example, Google Maps can estimate real-time road traffic conditions because it knows how quickly many people are traveling. Instead of every application trying to collect data on the phone and send it back to servers, a user collects their own data. View the full article