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What are the benefits of someone building a private Tor network? ...One that is disconnected from the well-known network being used on the Internet at-large.

My intent is to make Tor more corporate-friendly so that it:

  • Prevents nodes from being operated by untrusted/hostile parties (exit node eavesdropping)
  • Prevents local Tor deployments from abuse (spam, etc)
  • Maintains anonymity while using the technical means to enforce security.

Question

Aside from anonymity, is there any other benefit Tor can be used for? Would these benefits be seen in a private Tor Network?

How would one go about achieving these goals?

Is it technically possible?

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What do you want to use Tor for? For anonymity purposes, or for security purposes? It could potentially be used to provide plausible deniability or traffic analysis obfuscation beyond the typical anonymity it is used for primarily. Not to mention, you might be in the business of traffic analysis and want to run exit nodes to profile user behavior (without eavesdropping.) –  Ori Jun 10 '11 at 3:58
    
It seems like you have an idea for a solution and are now looking for a problem for it. The way to a marketable product is usually the other way around: Identify a problem and then come up with a solution for it without having any preconception what that solution might be. –  Philipp Sep 2 at 16:40

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The anonymity provided by Tor stems for the large number of cooperating nodes; a "private Tor network" looks like ultimate counterproductivity. Wait, no, a private Tor with peer authentication is even better in that role: anonymity is so much more guaranteed when you make sure of who you are talking to.

Nevertheless, Tor is free software so you could download the source code, compile it, and start from that point.

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In NYC we love sarcastic humor (I do mean it), but isn't there a way to prevent hostile nodes from joining a private Tor network? Is peer authentication the wrong technology? –  makerofthings7 Jun 8 '11 at 15:29
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The point of Tor is to be resilient to hostile nodes. The client encrypts data for all intended relay nodes, in a nested way (hence the onion) so that there is little that a rogue node may do except possibly drop packets, something which the Internet at large already does quite well without being actively malicious. The main danger would be the choice of only hostile nodes, a danger which is mitigated by having many nodes to randomly chose from. This avoids the sticky issue of "certifying" nodes which are "trustworthy", too. The "right technology" is "many nodes". –  Thomas Pornin Jun 8 '11 at 15:43
    
This still leaves me, as a Tor relay, an unwilling relay of sketchy encrypted data. My customer may not want to relay that under ethical grounds, or risk from getting flagged from his ISP as a relay or scanner. Does Tor have any benefit (use case) other than hiding the sender (and some server) addresses? –  makerofthings7 Jun 8 '11 at 15:52
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Tor provides anonymity, for the best and the worst; given human nature, the worst is plausible. Relay nodes are then, at least, accomplices. Exit nodes are in the least comfortable position, since they "see" the decrypted data, whereas other relay nodes can claim that since they only transmit encrypted data that they cannot decrypt, they are in no position to do any filtering, and thus are ethically and legally "clean" (I cannot vouch for the validity of that assertion, neither legally nor ethically, for that matter). –  Thomas Pornin Jun 8 '11 at 16:19
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The Tor Project presents anonymity as being the one and only feature of Tor, but they describe several situations in which anonymity is useful, e.g. to defeat traffic analysis. See torproject.org/about/overview.html.en . One can also note that Tor is an instance of the generic concept of "mix network", which can also be used in other contexts (e.g. for electronic voting schemes). –  Thomas Pornin Jun 8 '11 at 20:38

It's not as anonymous because than only a few people would be using it so it's easier to be tracked back to you where as using the regular tor you have thousands of peoples traffic going through getting mixed up so you don't get identified. Though if you do want a private tor than just use the private TOR network that IronKey has when you use their encrypted flash drives. That's the only reason I have it otherwise Apricorn makes a much better encrypted drive.

I did make one set up on the huge internal network of my college campus. Thanks to it all being internal it was fast and kept the IT staff from being nosy on people using it so we could get on pirate bay for movies and Youtube and Facebook, at least after I switched the exit nodes to a nearby outside network data center rental

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There is no particular need to separate yourself from the broader Tor network because if you needed a trusted system on the Tor network you could access it via hidden services or by selecting it as your exit node.

Conversely, if you need a trusted connection to the Tor network, you could provide this by running your own local node that handles other people's traffic as well as your own.

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