Filename: 207-directory-guards.txt
Title: Directory guards
Author: Nick Mathewson
Created: 10-Oct-2012
Status: Closed
Target: 0.2.4.x


   When we added guard nodes to resist profiling attacks, we made it so
   that clients won't build general-purpose circuits through just any
   node.  But clients don't use their guard nodes when downloading
   general-purpose directory information from the Tor network.  This
   allows a directory cache, over time, to learn a large number of IPs
   for non-bridge-using users of the Tor network.


   In the same way as they currently pick guard nodes as needed, adding more
   guards as those nodes are down, clients should also pick a small-ish set
   of directory guard nodes, to persist in Tor's state file.

   Clients should, as much as possible, use their regular guards as their
   directory guards.

   When downloading a regular directory object (that is, not a hidden
   service descriptor), clients should prefer their directory guards
   first.  Then they should try more directories from a recent consensus
   (if they have one) and pick one of those as a new guard if the
   existing guards are down and a new one is up.  Failing that, they
   should fall back to a directory authority (or a directory source, if
   those get implemented-- see proposal 206).

   If a client has only one directory guard running, they should add new
   guards and try them, and then use their directory guards to fetch multiple
   descriptors in parallel.

Open questions and notes:

   What properties does a node need to be a suitable directory guard?
   If we require that it have the Guard flag, we'll lose some nodes:
   only 74% of the directory caches have it (weighted by bandwidth).

   We may want to tune the algorithm used to update guards.

   For future-proofing, we may want to have the DirCache flag from 185
   be the one that nodes must have in order to be directory guards.  For
   now, we could have authorities set it to Guard && DirPort!=0, with a
   better algorithm to follow.  Authorities should never get the
   DirCache flag.