Tor Veteran Leaves, Shuts Down Core Node

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Ionut Arghire


Lucky Green, one of the people who has been with the Tor project for years before it was even called Tor, is leaving the project and has already announced plans to shut down a core node in the process.

In an announcement made over the weekend, Green cites ethical reasons for his departure, but doesn’t fully explain what determined it to make the move. What he does explain, however, is that his departure will involve the closing of Tonga, a pivotal node for the network, called Bridge Authority.

Green has been long enough with the project to be entrusted with the management of this special node within the network, which, the same as other Bridge Authorities, has its IP hard-coded in the Tor applications. Tonga also holds precious information regarding other Tor nodes, but all of the information related to it, including cryptographic keys, will be destroyed upon shutdown. 

“Tonga will be permanently shut down and all associated crytographic keys destroyed on 2016-08-31. This should give the Tor developers ample time to stand up a substitute. I will terminate the chron job we set up so many years ago at that time that copies over the descriptors,” Green announced.

He will also discontinue all Tor-related services hosted on systems under his control, and will shut down a number of fast Tor relays, but this should not impact the Tor Project at all. The closing of Tonga, however, is expected to cause disruption, even if there is enough time to deploy a new Bridge Authority and to issue the required software updates.

As Tor’s Sebastian Hahn explains in an internal email, an operator who can “provide a very high-availability system” is needed for the new Bridge Authority. Moreover, Hahn says that this operator should be “supremely trusted,” because “they see sensitive data that they shouldn't lose.”

“Nevertheless, this will cause severe disruption for the bridge ecosystem as our users typically take a long time to update their version of Tor. We should strive to have this set up very soon and included in a Tor release well before Aug 31, and yet it will still cause disruptions,” Hahn also says. However, he points out that the shutting down of Green’s relays should not cause problems for the network.

Green doesn’t specifically say what determined him to quit Tor, but he does say that it was “recent events” that pushed him in this direction. These might include the recent accusations of sexual misconduct against Tor developer and security researcher Jacob Appelbaum, who already left the project, and the complete reshuffle of the Tor board of directors.

Related: Tor Browser Gets Multiple Security Enhancements

Related: Tor Rival Riffle Promises Anonymity Improvements

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