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In reading this bug I can see that, in the past, Tor has been fingerprinted based on the cipher suites negotiated in the initial TLS handshake. Originally it looks like a copy of the cipher suites in a version of Firefox negotiating with Apache were used -- the goal being that it mimics a standard browser. The result of the bug was that the cipher suite was updated to look like other browsers.

My questions are:

  • How effective is this solution? The pluggable transports page shows why this isn't perfect, but is there any information on whether it's currently being used to block connections?
  • While a variety of suites are offered only a few can actually be used by Tor. Would a plausible active attack exist where an adversary could force force negotiation using an unsupported cipher in order to verify the host is a Tor node?
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Today, Tor is moving away from looking like TLS, with pluggable transports being the solution for censored users. Tor is moving to using stronger cryptographic primitives so looking like a browser is no longer the goal. Detecting Tor relays not behind pluggable transports is relatively straightforward. One of the ways is doing what you describe.

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