Five academics have developed a Tor alternative network that can handle up to 93Gb/s of traffic while maintaining privacy.
The HORNET system is more resistant to passive attacks than existing anonymity networks like Tor and delivers faster node speeds for a “practically unlimited” number of sources.
It is the brainchild of leader researcher Chen Chen of Carnegie Mellon University, together with Daniele Enrico Asoni, David Barrera, and Adrian Perrig of the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, and George Danezis of University College London.
“Unlike other onion routing implementations, HORNET routers do not keep per-flow state or perform computationally expensive operations for data forwarding, allowing the system to scale as new clients are added,” the team wrote in the paper HORNET: High-speed Onion Routing at the Network Layer (PDF).
“HORNET offers payload protection by default, and can defend against some global observation attacks.
“It is designed to be highly efficient: instead of keeping state at each relay, connection state (such as onion layer decryption keys) is carried within packet headers, allowing intermediate nodes to quickly forward traffic for large numbers of clients”
The team contends HORNET is as low-latency as existing anonymity protocols like Dovetail [PDF] without the “significantly degraded security guarantees” in which endpoints can be de-anonymised when attackers such as nation states have global data collection abilities.