The Tor Project has started a new system designed to help people start and run Tor bridges in the cloud using Amazon’s EC2 platform. The Tor Cloud runs on Amazon’s new micro-instance tier that lets people run instances for free for the first year.
Tor is used by people around the world to help protect their anonymity and privacy on the Internet. The system is a complex network of users, bridges and relays, each of which performs a discrete function. Because Tor often is used by political dissidents and others that are at odds with their own governments or other regimes, authorities sometimes seek to block Tor traffic whenever they’re able to identify a relay. A Tor bridge can help alleviate this problem because bridges are not listed in the public directory of Tor relays.
So the Tor Cloud is meant as a way for people to easily set up new Tor bridges on Amazon EC2 and get them up and running quickly. Tor volunteers have set up and configured Tor images that will recive updates and security patches automatically. So users who are interested in setting up a Tor Cloud bridge simply need to sign up for an Amazon Web Services account and then follow the instructions Tor has produced. The project has set up five separate images for different regions around the world.
“Setting up a Tor bridge on Amazon EC2 is simple and will only take you a couple of minutes. The images have been configured with automatic package updates and port forwarding, so you do not have to worry about Tor not working or the server not getting security updates,” the Tor Project said in a blog post.
“You should not have to do anything once the instance is up and running. Tor will start up as a bridge, confirm that it is reachable from the outside, and then tell the bridge authority that it exists. After that, the address for your bridge will be given out to users.”
Not all users will be able to qualify for the free Amazon EC2 tier, but the Tor Project said it should cost about $30 a month for others to set up cloud bridges.