Tor’s .Onion Becomes Special-Use Domain Name

It was recently announced that .onion domain has been added to the list containing Special-Use Domain Names; this was done with help from the Engineering Task Force organization and Internet-Assigned Numbers Authority who together form part of ICANN. The technology was previously referred to as psdeuo-TLD, and made it possible for .onion domains to be applied on regular web. But now it’s only limited to the Tor network. There’s also possibility that site-specific encryption and use of Internet security certificates will follow.

Onion Domains

The level of online anonymity offered has numerous benefits not only to nefarious sites, but also news outlets which take it as a way of secretively gathering information, plus Facebook further uses it to protect accounts from unauthorized breaching.

Official recognition of this domain will help improve online anonymity for web users, by limiting the chances of their IP addresses being detected by other people. In light of these new changes, all applications including proxy servers which implement the Tor protocol must recognize .onion extension as unique by either accessing them straightly, or using proxy to do so. Similarly, those that don’t implement this network will generate a default error upon opening the onion site, they are also advised not to run a DNS checkup as this won’t help in resolving the issue.

Internet Domains

As for Libraries and Name Resolution APIs, respondents must either react to access requests by resolving them based on data from NXDOMAIN, also popularly known as tor-rendezvous. Similarly, Caching DNS Servers which may not have been explicitly improvised to interoperate with Tor shouldn’t attempt to check up records for network names, but must rather use NXDOMAIN for such queries. The same applies to Authoritative servers.

The prospects of TLS and SSL certification are important for standardization and wider recognition of Tor, both help give users confidence that the sites they’re dealing with are legit and capable of protecting their online anonymity. Generally, Tor ecosystem will benefit from same levels of security as the rest of the net but with an added layer of safety and online anonymity.

Behavioral Profiling: Tool That Can Shatter Online Anonymity

Researchers from GREYC research lab have engineered a behavioral profiling program that distinguishes different individuals through their keystrokes. Whether it’s your typing speed, consistency or frequency of making systematic typing errors, this technique obliquely shatters online anonymity. Though arguable benign data, it is crucial in identifying behavior and matching it to the right person. To further threaten your onlineanonymity, this technique easily pick up usernames and passwords when you visit membership-based websites; in essence, invading your privacy.

Online AnonymityWorking in close collaboration, behavioral biometrics and behavioral profiling precisely draft your online portfolio, making it easier to keep tabs on you as soon as you start typing and speaking online from a certain location; your facial features are analyzed as well. Whereas behavioral biometrics are based on subtle nuances in your typing patterns, voice, location and special features, behavioral profiling track your online presence after having analyzed your behavior. Each needs the other to accomplish what many loath; shatter your online anonymity without remorse. No one is in the clear when it comes to behavioral profiling.

Though it may appear relatively harmless when being collected by a single website, imagine the level of privacy breach involved when multiple websites, all big names in the industry and collectively owned by one entity, collect crucial information without the user’s content. These multiple sites act as information databases and when matched up and compared, your profile will be created within no time and with little or no gaps. The researchers at GREYC lab are using JavaScript or a profiling app to collect biometric data, especially keystrokes. The amount of time between your keystrokes is also noted and aids in creating your profile, further compromising your online anonymity.

If it’s perfectly normal for you to omit spacing your words, this technique developed by researchers will associate this behavioral trait with you more so if you frequent the same websites at a particular time of the day. Each time you add new information to these websites; this tool will gobble up the information, update it in your profile and continue mapping your different characteristics. Online anonymity, though bolstered by numerous passwords and sign-in options, will soon be an open book. Data mining entities are on the rise and some have already been bold enough to deny these claims even when evidence is presented.

Data MiningThe GREYC lab researchers have portrayed consistency in the results brought forth by their algorithm. Your keystrokes are not a rigid structure and from time to time, there will be considerable differences. Even then, the graphs used in identifying your online presence remain largely uniform, distinguishing you from anyone else whose behavioral traits seem to match yours. Just like fingerprints were and still are used for identification, this evolved to DNA and now keystrokes are beckoning to be the leading identifier online; the possibilities which this technology can unleash are limitless, especially in the cybercrimes units. Online anonymity may have been assured by private window browsing’ or application of passwords a few years ago but think again; the playing field has drastically changed and is no longer level.