High-speed anonymous network devised as Tor alternative

A group of security researchers claims to have invented a way of browsing the web anonymously, without a reduction in speed.

Anonymising networks like Tor are already in existence, but because data has to be encrypted many times they often result in slower speeds when compared with a regular browser.

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However, a team based in London and Zurich has devised a high-speed encryption system called Hornet, which they claim can move data at speeds of 93 GB per second. Hornet has been designed with scalability in mind, which helps it to avoid the issues that cause the Tor network to slow down.

“Tor is the system of choice for over 2 million daily users, but its design as an overlay network suffers from performance and scalability issues: as more clients use Tor, more relays must be added to the network.”

Because Hornet processes information about where data is going in a different way, less processing power is used to assign these relays, so faster browsing speeds can be achieved. The research team also claims that their network is less susceptible to certain attacks aimed at users of the Tor network.

However, it is worth noting that Hornet is so far only at the research stage and has not yet been subjected to peer review. That suggests that it will be some time before the network becomes a reality, but if current anonymity systems can be improved upon, it could a long way to solving issues with online privacy.

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“Hornet can process anonymous traffic at over 93 GBps and require no per-flow state, paving the path for Internet-scale anonymity,” the team’s paper explains. “Our experiments show that small trade-offs in packet header size greatly benefit security, while retaining high performance.”