Thursday, June 18, 2009

Easy way to support Iranian protesters: run a TOR relay! #iranelection #iran #gr88

As the government continues their all out assault on freedom, providing those protesting the presidential elections in Iran with reliable, unfiltered, Internet access remains of vital importance. If protesters don't have access to the net, Iran falls into a virtual black hole where the only news that gets released to the world is tightly by the Iranian government and that could be disastrous.

In this post, we're going to discuss yet another way those outside of Iran can help the protesters reach the Internet: a Tor Relay Server. Tor Relays are traffic relay nodes that others on the Tor network can use to circumvent connection filtering by their government or ISP. Tor provides near complete anonymity and it's impossible to track where a connection on the Tor network is coming from.

First, you're going to need the actual Tor software. You can find that here. Download the version of the software for whatever operating system you're running and go through the default installation. This will set up all of the required Tor components you'll need to run your relay.

Next, we're going to setup relaying using a tool that comes with Tor called Vidalia. If the little green icon isn't already in your service tray, start it from your list of programs. It's under the Vidalia Bundle group.

Once Vidalia is running, click the SETUP RELAYING button on the control panel. Choose the radio button at the top of the screen that says 'Relay Traffic for the Tor Network'. This will setup your node as a relay node.

Next, select the 'Basic Settings' tab. Give your relay a nickname and, optionally, provide contact information. Set your relay port to whatever you choose (I suggest NOT using port 80), and set your directory port if you choose to use that.

Now, click on Bandwidth Settings. This is where you can limit the amount of bandwidth allocated to Tor users. It's self-explanatory so I'll leave those decisions up to you.

That brings us to the Exit Policies tab. Exit Policies are definitions of what kinds of services your node will allow access to. Uncheck any services you do not with to be a relay for and click OK.

You're done with setup! Not too painful, was it? Now, you'll need to make sure Tor users can access your node. There are two things you need to do:

1. If you're behind a firewall, make sure you unblock access to the ports you specified in Tor.

2. If you're behind a router, you'll need to port forward the ports you're running Tor on to the computer you're running the software on. Port forwarding is very individualized by manufacturer so I'm not going to discuss it here. See your owners manual for the router or call their support line to learn how to do it if you don't know how.

If all goes well, you are now running a Tor relay and should start seeing traffic pretty quickly.You can make sure it's running smoothly by going to the Vidalia control center and view the message log. You'll quickly see if things aren't going well.

The great thing about running a Tor relay is you're not just support Iran, but censored Internet users around the world. You're protecting privacy and supporting the freedom of expression. That is never a bad thing.


George said...

I'm attempting to set up the tor relay but getting this in the log:
Your DNS provider is hijacking invalid addresses ...can this be corrected by opening my firewall, or is my DSL provider blocking the relay?