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Security '02 Abstract

Deanonymizing Users of the SafeWeb Anonymizing Service*

David Martin, Boston University and Andrew Schulman, Software Litigation Consultant


The SafeWeb anonymizing system has been lauded by the press and loved by its users; self-described as "the most widely used online privacy service in the world," it served over 3,000,000 page views per day at its peak. SafeWeb was designed to defeat content blocking by firewalls and to defeat Web server attempts to identify users, all without degrading Web site behavior or requiring users to install specialized software. In this paper we describe how these fundamentally incompatible requirements were realized in SafeWeb's architecture, resulting in spectacular failure modes under simple JavaScript attacks. These exploits allow adversaries to turn SafeWeb into a weapon against its users, inflicting more damage on them than would have been possible if they had never relied on SafeWeb technology. By bringing these problems to light, we hope to remind readers of the chasm that continues to separate popular and technical notions of security.
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Last changed: 11 Oct. 2002 aw
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