Tor developers have been working on the next iteration of the Tor network and its underbelly, the Onion routing protocol, in order to create a stronger, harder-to-crack anonymous communications system.

To advance the project, the developer team regularly schedules brainstorming and planning meetings at regular intervals. The most recent of these meetings took place last week, in Montreal, Canada.

In this session, the team tested the next generation of the Tor network working on top of a revamped Onion protocol.

Future Tor communications will be more secure

The team says it implemented a new mechanism for generating random numbers, never before seen on the Internet.

In secure communications and encryption, random numbers are of critical importance, serving as the base for generating encryption keys. The stronger the algorithm on which the random number is generated, the harder for a threat group to crack and guess the number based on known patterns.

The Tor Project says it created something it calls “a distributed RNG” (random number generator) that uses two or more computers to create a random number and then blends each of these outputs together. The end result is something that’s impossible to crack without knowing which computers from a network contributed to the final random number, and which entropy each one used.

Not even Tor devs can predict the output of the new distributed RNG

The Tor team says their new distributed RNG system is so strong not even the people who designed the new protocol can predict its output.

Tor devs finished the new distributed RNG system a few months back, and at the Montreal meeting, the Tor team tested it on a network with eleven Tor routers. Currently, the distributed RNG is in the code review and auditing stage.

“It’s a complex system with multiple protocol phases that involves many computers working together in perfect synergy,” the Tor team explains. “As far as we know, a distributed random generation system like this has never been deployed before on the Internet.”

Hackfest notes of a developer suggesting a design improvement to the RNG system

Hackfest notes of a developer suggesting a design improvement to the RNG system

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