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  1. Abstract The popularity of Tor has made it an attractive target for a variety of deanonymization and fingerprinting attacks. Location-based path selection algorithms have been proposed as a countermeasure to defend against such attacks. However, adversaries can exploit the location-awareness of these algorithms by strategically placing relays in locations that increase their chances of being selected as a client’s guard. Being chosen as a guard facilitates website fingerprinting and traffic correlation attacks over extended time periods. In this work, we rigorously define and analyze the guard placement attack . We present novel guard placement attacks and show that three state-of-the-art path selection algorithms—Counter-RAPTOR, DeNASA, and LASTor—are vulnerable to these attacks, overcoming defenses considered by all three systems. For instance, in one attack, we show that an adversary contributing only 0.216% of Tor’s total bandwidth can attain an average selection probability of 18.22%, 84× higher than what it would be under Tor currently. Our findings indicate that existing location-based path selection algorithms allow guards to achieve disproportionately high selection probabilities relative to the cost required to run the guard. Finally, we propose and evaluate a generic defense mechanism that provably defends any path selection algorithm against guard placement attacks. We runmore »our defense mechanism on each of the three path selection algorithms, and find that our mechanism significantly enhances the security of these algorithms against guard placement attacks with only minimal impact to the goals or performance of the original algorithms.« less
  2. Website fingerprinting attacks, which use statistical analysis on network traffic to compromise user privacy, have been shown to be effective even if the traffic is sent over anonymity-preserving networks such as Tor. The classical attack model used to evaluate website fingerprinting attacks assumes an on-path adversary, who can observe all traffic traveling between the user’s computer and the secure network. In this work we investigate these attacks under a different attack model, in which the adversary is capable of sending a small amount of malicious JavaScript code to the target user’s computer. The malicious code mounts a cache side-channel attack, which exploits the effects of contention on the CPU’s cache, to identify other websites being browsed. The effectiveness of this attack scenario has never been systematically analyzed, especially in the open-world model which assumes that the user is visiting a mix of both sensitive and non-sensitive sites. We show that cache website fingerprinting attacks in JavaScript are highly feasible. Specifically, we use machine learning techniques to classify traces of cache activity. Unlike prior works, which try to identify cache conflicts, our work measures the overall occupancy of the last-level cache. We show that our approach achieves high classification accuracy inmore »both the open-world and the closed-world models. We further show that our attack is more resistant than network-based fingerprinting to the effects of response caching, and that our techniques are resilient both to network-based defenses and to side-channel countermeasures introduced to modern browsers as a response to the Spectre attack. To protect against cache-based website fingerprinting, new defense mechanisms must be introduced to privacy-sensitive browsers and websites. We investigate one such mechanism, and show that generating artificial cache activity reduces the effectiveness of the attack and completely eliminates it when used in the Tor Browser« less
  3. Abstract Recent work has shown that Tor is vulnerable to attacks that manipulate inter-domain routing to compromise user privacy. Proposed solutions such as Counter-RAPTOR [29] attempt to ameliorate this issue by favoring Tor entry relays that have high resilience to these attacks. However, because these defenses bias Tor path selection on the identity of the client, they invariably leak probabilistic information about client identities. In this work, we make the following contributions. First, we identify a novel means to quantify privacy leakage in guard selection algorithms using the metric of Max-Divergence. Max-Divergence ensures that probabilistic privacy loss is within strict bounds while also providing composability over time. Second, we utilize Max-Divergence and multiple notions of entropy to understand privacy loss in the worst-case for Counter-RAPTOR. Our worst-case analysis provides a fresh perspective to the field, as prior work such as Counter-RAPTOR only analyzed average case-privacy loss. Third, we propose modifications to Counter-RAPTOR that incorporate worst-case Max-Divergence in its design. Specifically, we utilize the exponential mechanism (a mechanism for differential privacy) to guarantee a worst-case bound on Max-Divergence/privacy loss. For the quality function used in the exponential mechanism, we show that a Monte-Carlo sampling-based method for stochastic optimization can be usedmore »to improve multi-dimensional trade-offs between security, privacy, and performance. Finally, we demonstrate that compared to Counter-RAPTOR, our approach achieves an 83% decrease in Max-Divergence after one guard selection and a 245% increase in worst-case Shannon entropy after 5 guard selections. Notably, experimental evaluations using the Shadow emulator shows that our approach provides these privacy benefits with minimal impact on system performance.« less