node-Tor

by Ayms

Ayms / node-Tor

Javascript implementation of the Tor (or Tor like) anonymizer project (The Onion Router)

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node-Tor

Javascript open source implementation of the Tor protocol (The Onion Router https://www.torproject.org/) on server side and inside browsers

Presentation

The purpose of this project is to offer a js implementation of the Tor protocol so it can be used on top of other protocols, whether on server side or inside browsers (using Websockets, WebRTC), most likely for p2p projects (like Convergence), it supports the Onion Proxy and Onion Router features accessible via different interfaces (mainly direct TLS socket, SOCKS proxy and WebSockets, WebRTC might come)

Please see the node-Tor presentation, it is not intended to be used to add nodes in the Tor network, however it does support it but a minimum of Tor project specific features are implemented to allow this, please see the Specific settings section

And it must not be misunderstood as a remake of the Tor network, this is a complete implementation of the Tor protocol that can be used to anonymize any protocol

To give an idea of the global target and potential, please see Anonymous IPFS, Filecoin or whatever protocol in fact or a complete redesign of the 2015 Convergence proposal Convergence - 2020 "A universal and generic architecture to anonymize any application or protocol and turn it into an independent decentralized p2p network inside browsers and servers, with browsers acting as servers"

History

This project was started in 2012 when we contacted the Tor project team with some objectives to use the Tor network at that time from the browser, then Aaron Swartz to whom we dedicate this project just replied "I think the right solution is to implement all of Tor in JavaScript, so that the web browser can set up the necessary tunnels and it has all the security guarantees of the client. Obviously, of course, this is quite a programming challenge."

Then we did it, he got aware of the first commit which is the one that was public until now

And we did continue the development over years, the full version used for Peersm, Peersm bridges (bridging with bittorrent), iAnonym was not public until now

Phases and Funding

Phases 1 to 3 (refactoring of the whole initial code, split into modules and push everything open source) have been funded by NLnet under the EU Horizon 2020 Next Generation internet Privacy & Trust Enhancing Technologies

The full code up to phase 3 is the current status of this repo and is now open source and provided in clear

Phase 4 will implement the

Duplex Object
and evented pipes method, please see below and the docs, the main concepts have been developped but not the split of the
request
object, it's not part of this repo

Phase 5 goes along with phase 4 in order to implement elliptic crypto, the Tor protocol v3 features and WebRTC so browsers can perform the Onion Proxy and Onion Router functions as p2p peers, this will be compatible with Snowflake but is much more ambitious since browsers and nodes are really behaving like Tor protocol nodes on top of WebRTC not only relaying WebRTC messages

For now there is no funding left for the development/release of phase 4 and phase 5, that would be too bad to stop here since we are enthusiastic to link phase 4 evented pipes with phase 5 elliptic crypto and WebRTC

You can consider also donating to BTC 19LgEmzSvD1oCr1QxT2dgmF5SSnh1aq94j, 5 BTCs would allow to move forward with phase 4/5 and more funding would allow to go up to phase10 of the Convergence proposal

License

Phase 1 to 3 are under a MIT license

Same license will apply to phase 4 and phase 5 if they are funded

Phase 4 and Phase 5

Evented pipes (phase4)

RDV below stands for 'RendezVous' point, which is a peer that will connect two anonymous peers

The detailed API documentation is here (but please read what follows first)

.(...).pipe().pipe(node-Tor)

sources --> A --> B --> C --> destination (web site for example)

For example:

http.pipe(tls).pipe(node-Tor)

or

http.pipe(parser).pipe(gzip).pipe(tls).pipe(node-Tor)

Where we are on the Onion Proxy side which will pipe https through Tor circuits and an exit node

Here and in what follows all objects piped are extending nodejs'

Duplex Streams
(and
-->
or
 are bidirectional too but show the way the Tor circuits are established
)

And

.(...).pipe().pipe(node-Tor).pipe(RDV peer)

hidden querying peer --> A --> B --> RDV

Where

RDV peer
allows to choose the last peer which can be an end point or a RDV point to which another Tor peer is connected to via several hops (like hidden services), the RDV peer is relaying the data between the two end points not knowing who they are, the two end points not knowing who they are also of course

For example:

torrent.pipe(node-Tor).pipe(RDV peer)

Which for Peersm project is:

DB.pipe(node-Tor).pipe(RDV peer)

Where

DB
is the
ORDB
protocol extending the Tor protocol to stream files downloaded inside browser's indexedDB storage between peers

The RDV peer is not using (hidden services)-like addresses to link two peers but simple hashes (so a peer transiting via the RDV peer to access another one must have the knowledge of its hash), this can be customized

And

.pipe().pipe(node-Tor)

hidden querying peer --> A --> B --> C --> queried peer

Where we are on the Onion Router side as the last node (supposed to be an exit one but that's not the case here) which will pipe some protocols, most likely identical between peers (ie the OP initiator and the OR responder)

For example:

bitcoin.pipe(node-Tor) between two bitcoin peers

or

ipfs.pipe(node-Tor) between two ipfs peers

or

webtorrent.pipe(node-Tor) between two webtorrent peers

or

sip.pipe(node-Tor) for conferencing services

You can do also:

(bitcoin/ipfs/webtorrent/sip/etc).pipe(node-Tor).pipe(RDV peer)

If you want to hide who are operating the protocols

Both on Onion Proxy side (initiator) and Onion Router side (responder), knowing that both can be browsers

On both side the

pipe
method is bidirectional (ie you don't have to do
ipfs.pipe(node-Tor).pipe(ipfs)
) and allows to stream/pipe chained protocols

Future development are planning to include the

MESSAGES2
elliptic crypto and WebRTC transport layer between peers

So at the end:

.(...).pipe().pipe(node-Tor).pipe(RDV peer - optional)

where

node-Tor
circuits are:
Tor TLS+Tor protocol over TCP (already implemented)
Tor TLS+Tor protocol over TCP streamed via SOCKS proxy (already implemented)
Tor TLS+Tor protocol over WebSockets (already implemented)
Tor TLS+Tor protocol over WebRTC (TODO - phase5)

Non Evented pipes (phase4)

The above pipes methods are using events but in case the initial source does not support events and cannot pipe natively with nodejs, the process can start automatically for example doing:

(bitcoin or any process) | node-tor | (bitcoin or any process)

Where the protocol is piped to the node-Tor process via stdin and stdout (or unix sockets), this is similar to the socks proxy piping but is more secure since it stays local to the code and removes the need of a local (or distant) server implementing the SOCKS interface

Phase 5

As stated above Phase 5 consists in implementing elliptic crypto, the Tor protocol v3 features and WebRTC, this is a short summary for something that is of course not trivial

Dependencies

This module is using the very good Forge, sjcl, RSA and ECC in JavaScript, Browserify, Terser and other modules from us under a MIT license

All dependencies (except browserify and terser) are currently embedded in the code (mainly because we had to modify some specific parts), so you don't have to install anything else

Modifications (phases 1 to 3)

We did clean the code, update it to ES6 and make it modular, as well as update it to the latest nodejs version

We have removed the parts that we consider useless related to projects mentionned above (including browser emulation inside node, bittorrent and Peersm video streaming), but they still can be usefull for some potential uses, you can find them in removed

The full initial code can be found here if needed (good luck...this is a complex monolithic block with many options)

We did keep the Peersm interface doing the OP to connect to Tor nodes, fetch the web or download from other peers, as well as the ORDB function for the ORs (please see the original doc https://github.com/Ayms/node-Tor/tree/master/README-old.md

Installation

Install node and unzip master

Browser interface

Please see the Browserify and Test configuration sections

For now we have removed the demo interface but you can look at the test configuration below

Please not also that this configuration has been maintained for demo purposes only (and testing purposes, if the whole chain from the browser to the Tor nodes work then it becomes unlikely that something is incorrect in your code) without any focus on security considerations and usability since it has been simplified from the initial Peersm project, it is not the main purpose of this project, the main purpose being to allow the use of the Tor protocol inside browsers and on server side for your own projects, it can have some bugs and if circuits don't get created refresh the page

Setting up your environment

For both processes below you can make it periodic by uncommenting the related call in

node-tor.js

Create your keys and publish your node

Create a directory

OR_name
in lib directory (for example OR1, note that only regular characters must be used for the names of the routers)

Run

node publish.js OR_name OR_IP:OR_port version email

This will create your onion key and long term ID key in the

OR_name
directory, then you must use that name when you launch the OR

You can also do this manually, please see an example here

And this will publish your node to the Tor authorities who will add your node into the Tor consensus

Note that this is not mandatory, some years ago it appeared that a Tor node would not extend to you if you were not in the consensus, apparently this rule does not apply any longer but if you don't register you might be seen as a bridge

By default a small bandwidth will be advertised for your node, this is to discourage other nodes to choose your node, you can change it in

publish.js
, and the version advertised is "node-Tor "+version (advised value: 1.0.0)

An unused ntor-onion-key is used in the publish descriptor, basically the base64 encoding of the sha256 of "Thanks Ayms this module is great", we don't know why it is mandatory for nodes that do not implement elliptic crypto (apparently it's a Tor project bug when releasing 0.2.4)

You can check that the process was successful by doing from the browser

IP:port/tor/server/fp/
where fingerprint is the one displayed in the result of the call to
publish.js
and is the one to be used when you launch the OR, and where IP:port is the IP/port of an authority, you can also check that your node appears in onionoo relay serach

If you don't want to publish (which we think is not really considered as good practices by the Tor community) you can comment the calls to

publish
at the end of
publish.js
, please note that the authorities might change over time, then you musk keep the list up to date in
publish.js
, and once you have published the autorities will check your node periodically sending VERSION cells

Update the routers

Tor routers are stored in

guards.js
and
exit.js
, by default
Relays
are equal to
Guards
in node-Tor

To update the list, run

node build-relays_and_dirs.js OR_name
, this will query onionoo, select the nodes that have a good bandwidth and test them one by one sending VERSION cells to them (OR_name is the same as above and just used to emulate the tls connections to test other nodes), then this will store the working nodes in guards and exit files

It is important to update the nodes at least once a week since the onion keys are supposed to be rotated and Tor routers are for a big part not really stable

Use

What starts everything is always a simple call to the

Tor
function or the use of
handleRequest
function

Launch the OR:

Tor({params_:{port:OR_port}})

The OR will listen/create tls sockets with Tor circuits, it can perform the OP also if connected via SOCKS proxy, we don't really see the use case except for testing purposes and it should not be encouraged, probably it could instead be extended to support Shadowsocks

Launch the Websocket OR:

net.createServer(handleRequest).listen(port,function() {console.log('WS INCOMING SOCKET : incoming socket open WS Interface port '+port)});

Create circuits from the OP:

Tor((socket interface connected to an OR), this can be a Duplex stream too)

where socket.params_ is

{OP:true,nb_hop:NB_DB_HOP}

or

Tor({params_:{OP:true,nb_hop:NB_DB_HOP,ws:(Websocket interface)}});

or

Tor({params_:{OP:true,nb_hop:NB_DB_HOP,ws:(Websocket interface),db=true}});

which will create a circuit toward the ORDB, see the Test configuration section

Once some circuits are created you can create a

request
object with the
one_c
property set to true (see the Tor function), you can then simply call:
Tor(request)

Which will select a circuit (associated to the initial socket via its

socket_
property) among those available in
OP_sock
and call
circ.process(request)
, please see an example starting by the
load
function in
browser2.js
, this will typically initiate a
RELAY_BEGIN
message establishing a TCP connection from the exit node to the target node (or site) and stream data through the established connection and anonymized circuits, received data is processed via the
_write_
property of the
request
object (which in our test configuration stores the data as chunks of Blobs inside indexedDB, see the
load_Blob
function

You can of course set all of this the way you like

To launch the OR from the command line, do:

node node-tor.js OR_name OR_IP OR_port OR_wsport OR_fingerprint OR_version

Please see the section Setting up your environment for the details of parameters

Test configuration and use

First circuit created from the browser OP via WS is:

 -->  -->  --> 

Then 5 other circuits are created:

 -->  -->  --> 

From the browser interface you can enter:

http://www.peersm.com/map.jpg

To download from the Tor Exit nodes

And:

6faddcd7f92ce3111cdf55f493ac66b0bdbaebdb

To download from a peer (including yourself) that has map.jpg via the ORDB circuit/router (ie from the browser to the browser, the messages being relayed by the ORDB via anonymized circuits, one of the purpose of the Convergence project was to replace the ORDB server by a ORDB peer/browser)

This is just an example of use, by default the test configuration calls

monitor_circuits
periodically which will create up to 6 circuits, the first one being the ORDB circuit (if it fails the other circuits will not be created), you can change this removing the check of
db_cid
in
choose_circuits
and removing the check also in
monitor_circuits
(or changing the NB parameter) to create one to NB normal circuits

Browserify

Please see browserify

To setup your test configuration you need to put the right parameters in

node-tor.js
for
one_OR
(who is the OR the browser will connect to via WebSockets) and
DB_OR
who is the OR performing the ORDB function, then launch the two ORs as explained above and serve the file
index.html

You must also xhr

Guards.js
and
Exit.js
built with
build-relays_and_dir.js
(see above) from your server or ours in
browser2.js

Specific settings

Again the intent is not to add Tor nodes inside the Tor network, unlike the common belief the Tor network is very centralized, this implementation is more oriented for decentralized networks (and for p2p we think that two hops are enough since the guards concept does not apply, as well as tls, the Tor protocol does not need it), so following simplifications/specific settings apply:

  • tls and onion keys are the same, not a big deal and not difficult to change
  • tls certificates have always the same certid (see the bug below, this is an umpteenth openssl unfortunate change and is a won't fix for us for now despite of the fact that it allows fingerprinting)
  • the onion keys are not rotated, this can easily be done via an external process
  • CERTS cells and AUTH are implemented but not checked, as well as NETINFO
  • the Exit function is not implemented for obvious reasons, it's of course trivial to implement
  • CREATEFAST are used from the browser to test the whole chain, now the use of CREATEFAST should be discouraged for any implementation
  • the directory/consensus features are not implemented (so for example you cannot proxy the Tor browser directly to node-Tor via SOCKS proxy, which is anyway not a good idea at all)
  • we don't know how secure is the nodejs and browser prng
  • forge buffers are used for some features, note that they are fast (faster in fact than nodejs Buffers and ArrayBuffers when we were testing streaming)
  • MESSAGE2 with elliptic crypto are not implemented for now, probably this would be a good idea to do it so we get rid of RSA, PEM, DER formats for p2p implementations (phase 5), please note that for publishing nodes an unused curve25519 ntor-onion-key (ie a 32B buffer) is used in the descriptor

Related bugs/issues

Notes for the devs

This project has been maintained over years but it has been a huge work to clean everything and make it modular, and at the end is very small for what it does, now some parts might still need some changes, please keep in mind that it was quite difficult at the time it was developped to put everything inside browsers with associated crypto, that's why the previous code ended up to be a monolith

The same code is used at nodejs and browser side, then the browser has exactly the same functions than nodejs (and could therefore act as an OR as well)

Globals are used at the nodejs level (see the note for browsers in Browserify section), most of them can be splitted as local variables inside modules but not all, this is not an issue and comes from the initial design since at the beginning the code was not intended to be modular (and then no globals were used), changing this impacts a lot of things, this might be a TODO (as well as implementing the elliptic crypto)

If you PR something (please wait that we remove the experimental notice above, in the meantime you can email us) please make sure that the test configuration works for each type of circuit and download also (then it becomes unlikely that something is wrong)

Peer review

This project has been quickly scanned by ROS experts, it is useless to say that when you create an app using node-Tor inside browsers you must not do inept things like injecting the content donwloaded via the anonymized circuits inside the page to fetch resources outside of them (and then deanonymize you), this is the very purpose of the proxyJS concept in the Convergence proposal

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