New Anonymity Network “Riffle” Claimed To Be More Secure Than Tor

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Riffle is being seen as a solution for the problems that Tor has been having of late.

Researchers at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT and the Polytechnic School of Lausanne in Switzerland have developed a new anonymity tool similar to Tor called Riffle.

It claims to be more secure and as offering more bandwidth efficiency than its counterpart Tor.

It is estimated that there are over 2.5 million users that access Tor on a daily basis to browse the internet anonymously.

Riffle has been devised by David Lazar, Albert Kwon, Srini Devadas, and Bryan Ford.

The group presents its findings at the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium that is scheduled to take place in Germany this month.

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Riffle – System Better than Tor

Riffle uses onion encryption just like the Tor anonymity network. The anonymity is provided by wrapping every message that is sent through the network in many layers of encryption.

The central part of the new anonymity network contains a set of servers referred to as the mixnet.

The mixnet shuffles the order of the messages received before it is passed on to the next. It is impossible for anyone to track the message from the point of origin to the exit point of the last server.

Each mixnet server removes one layer of encryption. This makes sure that only the last server knows the message.

Riffle is also touted to take only about only one-tenth of the time taken now to transfer files of large sizes between users.

It is also designed to thwart message tampering Sybil which directly attacks Tor.

To avoid tampering, it uses a technique known as a verifiable shuffle.

Each exchange, during the passage of the message also sends a temporary encryption key which is verified.

Once done, the rest of the message does not have to use the encryption key.

This ensures that this message is the one the server received. Any tampering of messages by servers can be immediately spotted.

The problem with Tor was that if a tracker gets an adequate number of nodes, the progress of the message packets can be tracked.

Though the exact message cannot be deciphered on Tor, it is possible to tie a user to the traffic that is coming out of the last node and the trail can be established.

However, Riffle is designed to provide the maximum traffic analysis resistance, according to reports.

Though the technologies of Mixnet and Dining Cryptography Networks (DCNs) have been in existence separately for a long time now, they have not been used together because of some serious drawbacks.

However, Kwon and his group successfully combined the two technologies in such a manner that kept away their weaknesses.

With this combination that has been implemented in Riffle, the network will be resistant to both active and passive attacks, will scale well and use less processing time when compared to Tor.

File sharing can happen at the speed of about 100 Kb/s, according to the research group. About 100,000 users could be handled with less than 10 seconds’ latency.

However, adding servers may degrade performance to a certain extent. Riffle would work best in small and secure networks.

It is not a replacement for Tor, and there is no version of Riffle that can be downloaded now. There is only a prototype that is available at present.

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  1. MIT is in the US. The US wants backdoors on cryptography. I don’t believe Riffle is anonymous until I see the source code.


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