User tracking and profiling is a growing threat to online privacy. Whilst Internet users can choose to withhold their personal information, their Internet usage can still be traced back to a unique IP address. This study considers anonymity as a strong and useful form of privacy protection. More specifically, we examine how current anonymity solutions suffer from a number of deficiencies: they are not commonly used, are vulnerable to a host of attacks or are impractical or too cumbersome for daily use. Most anonymity solutions are centralised or partially centralised and require trust in the operators. It is additionally noted how current solutions fail to promote anonymity for common Web activities such as performing online search queries and general day-to-day Web browsing. A primary objective of this research is to develop an anonymising Web browsing protocol which aims to be (1) fully distributed, (2) offer adequate levels of anonymity and (3) enable users to browse the Internet anonymously without overly complex mixing techniques. Our research has led to an anonymising protocol called Polar. Polar is a peer-to-peer network which relays Web requests amongst peers before forwarding it to a Web server, thus protecting the requester's identity. This dissertation presents the Polar model. Design choices and enhancements to the model are discussed. The author's implementation of Polar is also presented demonstrating that an implementation of Polar is feasible.
Dissertation (MSc (Computer Science))--University of Pretoria, 2007.