Tor launches DIY relays in Amazon cloud

Easy to build, cheap to run

The Tor Project is tapping Amazon's EC2 cloud service to make it easier for volunteers to donate bandwidth to the anonymity network.

Developers with the project have released preconfigured Tor Cloud images that volunteers can use to quickly deploy bridges that allow users to access the service. The new system is designed to take some of the pain out running such Tor relays by reducing the work and cost of deploying and running the underlying hardware and software.

“Setting up a Tor bridge on Amazon EC2 is simple and will only take you a couple of minutes,” developers a project member wrote in a post published on Monday. “The images have been configured with automatic package updates and port forwarding, so you do not have to worry about Tor not working or the server not getting security updates.”

In many cases, those availing themselves of the images to set up Tor bridges will qualify for Amazon's free usage tier. That will allow volunteers to run a bridge on EC2 for a full year. Those who don't qualify will need to pay about $30 a month.

Tor bridges are relays that aren't listed in the main directory, making them harder to be blocked by repressive governments and service providers. The volunteer-maintained relays act as the first hop in the network. From there, traffic is forwarded to other relays.

The preconfigured server images are available in six of Amazon's service regions, including Virginia, Northern California, Oregon, Ireland, Tokyo, and Singapore. They come with bandwidth limits to keep the cost of running a bridge below the $30 threshold. Once they are installed, they require little maintenance, the Tor posting said. ®

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