Tor: I'm shutting down my relay only after four days

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 06/10/2014 - 12:07

Some days ago, I bit the bullet and accepted the Tor Challenge.

Sadly, after only four days of having a Tor relay node happily sitting at home (and, of course, giving a nice function to this little friend). The inconveniences were too many.

I understand anonimity can be used for many nefarious things, but I was surprised and saddened to see the amount of blocking services. Most notorious to me were the Freenode IRC network, friendly home to many free software projects, and the different Wikimedia projects, which ban editting from IP addresses idenitfied as Tor relays.

I'm saddened to say that, while I could perfectly survive (and even be a bit proud about supporting a project I believe in) by jumping through some hoops (i.e. by setting up a SOCKS over ssh tunnel to my office to do my Wikipedia edits while at home), after only four days, I decided to shut down my relay.

And the main reason... Was something I'm not going to fight against. And it's not even from a nice, friendly free software project.

One thing I am not willing to part with is the one tool that keeps my wife well in contact with her friends and family back in Argentina. Yes, I know I could set up one or many different flavors of SIP or Jabber-based VoIP for her — But it's also her parents, brother, sisters, and friends who use Skype. So, Skype's banning of Tor relay nodes made me decide to shut down my relay.

Sigh... And for somebody obsessed with graphing stuff, this is the graph of the short lifespan of the "Lobazal" Tor node:

[update] I will do another blog post. Good news: My Tor node is alive again! Just no longer as an exit relay, as properly pointed out by many, but as a Tor bridge.

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David's picture

Hi -- Did you run an exit

Hi -- Did you run an exit relay? I've heard that can be problematic, but never heard that a non-exit relay were having problems.

Also, I know freenode has special infrastructure for accepting tor connections, but I admit I've never used them. What issues did you hit?

Thanks for your blog posts, always very interesting to read. :)

noahm's picture

relay vs. exit node

Hu Gunnar. It doesn't sound like you were actually running a relay at all, but rather an exit node. There's a big difference!

Tor relays simply pass encrypted traffic to and from other relays. Relay traffic is highly unlikely to get your IP blocked or otherwise in trouble.

An exit node, on the other hand, is a point from which traffic exits the Tor network and enters the mainstream internet. From the point of view of web site, or other service, operators, the exit node is the point of origin of any malicious traffic. If you want to run an exit node, you'll need to be prepared to deal with abuse reports, angry complaints, potentially getting shut down by your ISP, law enforcement inquiries, etc. As you might imagine, running an exit node is a bigger commitment than running a relay.

If I may, I'd like to humbly request that you revisit your decision to abandon the Tor Challenge, and reconsider running a relay. Set up properly, such a service should be almost entirely unobtrusive and safe for you and the other people using your network, yet is immensely beneficial to the Tor network.

Anonymous's picture

Exit or middle node?

I'd also be interested as to whether you were running an exit or a non-exit middle node.

In theory, there shouldn't be any abuse claims to deal with in a middle node, but some sites blindly block all Tor relays, which is annoying. You should complain to sites that block middle relays.

You may wish to consider running a bridge node. Since bridges don't appear in relay lists they're unlikely to be subject to the kind of service blocks you experienced.

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