How to Run a Tor Experiment

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 10:00 am - 10:00 am EDT

Justin Tracey - PhD


Tor is used for providing anonymity and censorship circumvention online, and is one of the most popular privacy enhancing technologies today, with an estimated 80 million active users daily. This popularity derives not only from its basic functionality, supporting standard internet connections for everything from web browsing to SSH, but also from the years of research invested into improving its security, privacy, usability, and performance. For this reason, proper experimentation methodology is a critical element of Tor’s past and future development.


In this talk, I will introduce the key components of performing a scientifically valid, ethical, and insightful Tor experiment, with a primary (but not exclusive) focus on controlled network performance studies. This includes the current state of Tor network research practices, common pitfalls and flaws in published research, and future directions such research could take. This information should prove useful for new and experienced researchers alike in future Tor network research.


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