02nd September 2015

Onion Router Network Speeds

Regular users of the Onion Router will know that one of the trade offs for the security and anonymity that the network offers is high latency and low speeds. The network is much slower than the high speed internet that we are now used to. However an academic paper published in July this year promises to deliver a huge boost to the speed of the anonymous internet.

The superbly named HORNET (an acronym for “High-speed Onion Routing at the Network layer”) aims to vastly increase the speed at which the network can operate by reducing the cryptography required for each packet of data transmitted. It limits the information that an intermediate relay node is required to keep and having that burden fall only on the entry and exit node for that data. The researchers claim that this allows the network to process anonymous traffic at over 93Gb/s and importantly that the network can easily scale up to handle additional demand. An excellent summary of the way in which the HORNET would work can be found here at Ars Technica.

At present, the claims of those behind the HORNET theory should be viewed with a degree of skepticism; the paper has not yet been peer reviewed so the grandiose aims of the paper have not yet been independently assessed or substantiated. Technologies like Bitcoin and TOR are not and have never been static, but are the result of constant evolution and development by their backers. HORNET may well have a long way to go before it is capable of delivering what it promises.

However, if and when HORNET does deliver hi-speed and reliable anonymous internet access, it will be another significant step in taking such technologies closer to the mainstream; we may be fast approaching a future where anonymous web browsing is considered the norm.

For further information please contact our cybercrime solicitors.

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