Shadow: Running Tor in a Box for Accurate and Efficient Experimentation

Date of Submission: 
September 23, 2011
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Tor is a large and popular overlay network providing both anonymity to its users and a platform for anonymous communication research. New design proposals and attacks on the system are challenging to test in the live network because of deployment issues and the risk of invading users' privacy, while alternative Tor experimentation techniques are limited in scale, are inaccurate, or create results that are difficult to reproduce or verify. We present the design and implementation of Shadow, an architecture for efficiently running accurate Tor experiments on a single machine. We validate Shadow's accuracy with a private Tor deployment on PlanetLab and a comparison to live network performance statistics. To demonstrate Shadow's powerful capabilities, we investigate circuit scheduling and find that the EWMA circuit scheduler reduces aggregate client performance under certain loads when deployed to the entire Tor network. Our software is open source and available for download.