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Re: [tor-talk] Historically speaking, what was the U.S. navy /military



Hi Virgil,

On Wed, Jul 29, 2015 at 12:32:56PM +0000, Virgil Griffith wrote:
> intending to use Tor for?
> 
> I know the classic story of US intelligence agents wanting to phone home
> from Beijing hotels without Chinese intelligence knowing they were phoning
> home as a partial motivation for open-sourcing Tor.
> 
> But what was the Navy/military originally hoping to use Tor-related
> protocols for? It's unclear to me what their historical motivations were.

If I'm understanding you, it's a question with a presupposition
failure. Nobody came to us and said, "We have this problem we're
encountering in the field.  How would you solve it?" We (David,
Michael, and I) thought of an interesting research problem and
solution area that could also ultimately result in technology that
would be useful to the Navy. We then applied for funding to research it.

We came up ourselves with potential application suggestions such as
open source intelligence gathering or "phoning home" as you put it.
We also came up with other ideas (some good, some bad) and also talked
to people about how it might be useful.  As another example that I
remember from an early briefing slide: We knew about the 1991 pentagon
pizza channel
http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/government/a/war_and_pizza.htm 
and we speculated that maybe in the future people would even be doing
incredible stuff like ordering food online (The Web was only two years
old at that point.)  We had a picture where the ordering
information went over the Web from the Pentagon to Domino's and was
routed by an enemy (Iraq at the time of the putative pizza channel
concern). I remember a point I would make during presentations was
that the enemy could see the number of orders made by people at the
Pentagon to Domino's even if he couldn't break the encryption to know
if they were for pepperoni or extra cheese.  (And this was years
before ShmooCon 2005 when Nick Mathewson uttered the immortal line:
"Look. Dan Kaminsky has just fit an entire meat-lover's pizza inside a
DNS request.")

There is some more discussion of the history
of onion routing (including Tor) here

http://www.acsac.org/2011/program/keynotes/syverson.pdf

also, though the slides above are not in it (I'll have to look around)
for some other application ideas see
http://www.onion-router.net/Publications/Briefing-1996.pdf 
(Note that in those slides we said onion routers were Chaum mixes
because when we told more experienced researchers about onion routing,
they told us these were a form of Chaum mixes (with which we were
initially unfamiliar).  We didn't really articulate the important
differences till much later.)


HTH,
Paul
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