University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Computer Laboratory Security Group meeting presentations > Hot or Not: Revealing Hidden Services by their Clock Skew

Hot or Not: Revealing Hidden Services by their Clock Skew

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Steven J. Murdoch.

Practice talk for ACM CCS

Location-hidden services, as offered by anonymity systems such as Tor, allow servers to be operated under a pseudonym. As Tor is an overlay network, servers hosting hidden services are accessible both directly and over the anonymous channel. Traffic patterns through one channel have observable effects on the other, thus allowing a service’s pseudonymous identity and IP address to be linked. One proposed solution to this vulnerability is for Tor nodes to provide fixed quality of service to each connection, regardless of other traffic, thus reducing capacity but resisting such interference attacks. However, even if each connection does not influence the others, total throughput would still affect the load on the CPU , and thus its heat output. Unfortunately for anonymity, the result of temperature on clock skew can be remotely detected through observing timestamps. This attack works because existing abstract models of anonymity-network nodes do not take into account the inevitable imperfections of the hardware they run on. Furthermore, we suggest the same technique could be exploited as a classical covert channel and can even provide geolocation.

This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory Security Group meeting presentations series.

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