iGlobaLeaks with tor client integrated
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iGlobaLeaks is the iOS client part of a larger Whistleblowing project called GlobaLeaks

This version tunnels the traffic through the Tor network. The Tor implementation is forked from the OnionBrowser project. Big thanks to them.

The code is still under development as it is part of my final disseration project due the 30th August 2013. By that date there will be a totally working alpha version.

More information can be found at:

Technical notes [from OnionBrowser README]

  • iGlobaLeaks: 0.2 (20130812.1)
  • Tor: (Jul 01 2013)
  • libevent: 2.0.21-stable (Nov 18 2012)
  • OpenSSL: 1.0.1e (Feb 11 2013)

The app, when compiled, contains static library versions of Tor and it's dependencies, libevent and openssl.

The build scripts for Tor and these dependencies are based on build-libssl.sh from x2on/OpenSSL-for-iPhone. The scripts are configured to compile universal binaries for armv7 and i386 (for the iOS Simulator).

The tor build-tor.sh script patches one file in Tor (src/common/compat.c) to remove references to ptrace() and _NSGetEnviron(). This first is only used for the DisableDebuggerAttachment feature (default: True) implemented in Tor (See changelog and manual.) ptrace() and _NSGetEnviron() calls are not allowed in App Store apps; apps submitted with ptrace() symbols are rejected on upload by Apple's auto-validation of the uploaded binary. (The _NSGetEnviron() code does not even compile when using iPhoneSDK due to that function being undefined.) See the patch files in build-patches/ if you are interested in the changes. introduced compiler and linker "hardening" (Tor ticket 5210), which is incompatible with the iOS Device build chain. The app (when building for iOS devices) is configured with --disable-gcc-hardening --disable-linker-hardening to get around this issue. (Due to the isolation of executable code on iOS devices, this should not cause a significant change in security.)

Because iOS applications cannot launch subprocesses or otherwise execute other binaries, the tor client is run in-process in a NSThread subclass which executes the tor_main() function (as an external tor executable would) and attempts to safely wrap Tor within the app. (libor.a and libtor.a, intermediate binaries created when compiling Tor, are used to provide Tor.) Side-effects of this method have not yet been fully evaluated. Management of most tor functionality (status checks, reloading tor on connection changes) is handled by accessing the Tor control port in an internal, telnet-like session from the AppDelegate.

The app uses a NSURLProtocol subclass (ProxyURLProtocol), registered to handle HTTP/HTTPS requests. That protocol uses the CKHTTPConnection class which nearly matches the NSURLConnection class, providing wrappers and access to the underlying CFHTTP Core Framework connection bits. This connection class is where SOCKS5 connectivity is enabled. (Because we are using SOCKS5, DNS requests are sent over the Tor network, as well.)

(I had WireShark packet logs to support the claim that this app protects all HTTP/HTTPS/DNS traffic in the browser, but seem to have misplaced them. You'll have to take my word for it or run your own tests.)

The app uses Automatic Reference Counting (ARC) and was developed against iOS 5.X or greater. (It may work when building against iOS 4.X, since most of the ARC behavior exists in that older SDK, with the notable exception of weakrefs.)


  1. Check Xcode version
  2. Build dependencies via command-line
  3. Build application in XCode

Check Xcode version

Double-check that the "currently selected" Xcode Tools correspond to the version of Xcode you have installed:

xcode-select -print-path

For the newer Xcode 4.3+ installed via the App Store, the directory should be /Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Developer, and not the straight /Developer (used by Xcode 4.2 and earlier). If you have both copies of Xcode installed (or if you have updated to Xcode 4.3 but /Developer still shows), do this:

sudo xcode-select -switch /Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Developer

Building dependencies

cd to the root directory of this repository and then run these commands in the following order to build the dependencies. (This can take anywhere between five and thirty minutes depending on your system speed.)

bash build-libssl.sh
bash build-libevent.sh
bash build-tor.sh

This should create a dependencies directory in the root of the repository, containing the statically-compiled library files.

Build GlobaLeaks.xcodeproj in Xcode

Open GlobaLeaks/GlobaLeaks.xcodeproj. You should be able to compile and run the application at this point.

The app and all dependencies are compiled to run against armv7s (iPhone 5's "A6" processor), armv7, and i386 targets, meaning that all devices since the iPhone 4 (running at least iOS 6.0) and the iOS Simulators should be able to run the application.