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Communications Encryption Mozilla The Internet Hardware IT

Mozilla Dusts Off Old Servers, Lights Up Tor Relays 80

TechCurmudgeon writes According to The Register, "Mozilla has given the Tor network a capacity kick with the launch of 14 relays that will help distribute user traffic. Engineers working under the Foundation's Polaris Project inked in November pulled Mozilla's spare and decommissioned hardware out of the cupboard for dedicated use in the Tor network. It included a pair of Juniper EX4200 switches and three HP SL170zG6 (48GB ram, 2*Xeon L5640, 2*1Gbps NIC) servers, along with a dedicated existing IP transit provider (2 X 10Gbps). French Mozilla engineer Arzhel Younsi (@xionoxfr) said its network was designed to fall no lower than half of its network capacity in the event of maintenance or failure. The Polaris initiative was a effort of Mozilla, the Tor Project and the Centre for Democracy and Technology to help build more privacy controls into technology."
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Mozilla Dusts Off Old Servers, Lights Up Tor Relays

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  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday January 29, 2015 @03:13PM (#48933527) Homepage

    three HP SL170zG6 (48GB ram, 2*Xeon L5640, 2*1Gbps NIC) servers

    LOL ... geez, I wish I had something like that just laying around in a cupboard.

    Sheeee-it.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 29, 2015 @03:28PM (#48933651)

      three HP SL170zG6 (48GB ram, 2*Xeon L5640, 2*1Gbps NIC) servers

      LOL ... geez, I wish I had something like that just laying around in a cupboard.

      Ah, but it comes with a catch. These are Mozilla servers.The AX (Administrator Experience) team has made regular improvements to them every month. As of this writing, the case has been modified so that it has no front-panel status display (not even a status bar of LEDs to show temperature and system load), and the case has been modified so that the power button is operated by a foot pedal, and next week the fiber/ethernet ports will be covered over with a 2-inch thick layer of beautifully minimalistic white epoxy laboriously hand-polished to a glossy sheen.

      • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday January 29, 2015 @03:32PM (#48933695) Homepage

        Ah, but it comes with a catch. These are Mozilla servers.The AX (Administrator Experience) team has made regular improvements to them every month. As of this writing, the case has been modified so that it has no front-panel status display (not even a status bar of LEDs to show temperature and system load), and the case has been modified so that the power button is operated by a foot pedal, and next week the fiber/ethernet ports will be covered over with a 2-inch thick layer of beautifully minimalistic white epoxy laboriously hand-polished to a glossy sheen.

        *bites lip* Oh, keep talking nerdy to me.

      • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

        tor clients connecting to these servers will need the 'classic tor restorer' plugin to restore basic functionality.

      • You had me at Mozilla

    • It's older gear that is not that expensive. [ebay.com] Not bad, but not exactly bleeding edge.

      I'm not criticizing; this is more than I've donated to the cause.

    • That's the best they could come up with from their scrap pile? *puke* They'll pay more for power over the next 3 years than it would cost them to buy some decent enterprise-level servers with real switches.

      The EX-4200 is great, for a basic SOHO or OOB switch, but I wouldn't use it where any real connectivity was required.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Whom surely", sorry couldn't resist.

    But seriously, did they do this out of the goodness in their hearts, or did someone pay for it? Yahoo payed them enough to switch the default search engine, what three letter agency would pay for them to do this and get free monitoring, of a huge tor network chunk?

  • by Solozerk ( 1003785 ) on Thursday January 29, 2015 @03:43PM (#48933777)
    It should be noted that those are relays, which transit data inside the tor network, not exit nodes (which provide exit points to the general network and can be a large risk for their operator should any illegal content be accessed). Relays still help with the general obfuscation of the network as well as for hidden services, though.
    Apparently, Mozilla is considering [ycombinator.com] eventually deploying exit nodes as well though.

    Finally, for those that will scream "child porn", it should be noted that a very, very small minority [wired.com] of tor traffic is actually linked to that type of content, despite what the DoJ says; the best estimates from the tor project is around 1.5%. This move by Mozilla is a good thing - amongst other things helping countless defenders of freedom in oppressed regimes speak up in safety.
  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Thursday January 29, 2015 @03:46PM (#48933807) Homepage
    TOR has never been more than an interesting proof of concept. it took a little while for the spooks to catch on, but these days theyre so good at poisoning exit nodes and injecting malicious content that TOR is less of an anonymous network and more of a cautionary tale.

    You should be using I2P https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
    and while we're on the subject, Mozilla has gotten too chummy with advertisers for me to be comfortable with anymore. They started out on a mission to protect the internet, and now they have video chat, targeted advertising tabs, and a fat paycheck from google every month. Firefox is fast turning into the realplayer of the 21st century. What we should be doing instead of looking for corporations to help us is working to Opt out of global data surveillance programs like PRISM, XKeyscore and Tempora. [prism-break.org]
    • I2P is (or seems) good for anonymously accessing eePsites, but it's not particularly useful [geti2p.net] for general browsing. And as of now there only seems to be one outproxy, which makes it even worse.

    • by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Thursday January 29, 2015 @05:11PM (#48934571)

      There is nothing wrong with TOR other than not enough people are providing capacity. The biggest reason the government can attack TOR is that the number of relays and nodes is so pathetically small as to make it trivial to attack it for a large well funded organization. And your suggestion is to reduce the effectiveness of TOR even more AND put your trust in a system in which the developers themselves can't guarantee it's secure because it's never been audited, unlike TOR, and operates on the exact same principles and methods.

      You sir are a fool.

      Of I2P, freenet, Tor and all the others TOR is the only one with good financial backing and an audited codebase that more than 3 people have looked at. I2P on the other hand is built on Java with literally one developer and is even smaller of a network, and likely suffers the exact same weaknesses as TOR, the most important of which is that the smaller the number of machines connected the easier it is to crack and track the network encryption and routing.

    • I2P cant be used to access google and the general internet. Tor can be. So you should be using Tor, just keep in mind that anything unencrypted can and will usually contain malicious content. Even if not by the spooks, people change stuff for lolz, and monitor stuff for research and lolz. It doesnt mean tor is not good. It is just something you have deal with.

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