The problem with ‘ safe havens ‘

The Tor Project- Screen Shot

The Tor Project- Screen Shot

When Kim Dotcom provided a Cyber ‘ warehouse ‘ for people to upload stuff it was a great idea that could be used legitimately. Of course it could also be used for illegitimate purposes and the most popular downloads which made his business the most money tended to be the illegitimate ones.His argument was that he was not responsible for pedophiles sharing child porn on his site or hackers uploading hacked information or movies or books etc that they had no rights to as he just provided the ‘ warehouse ‘ to store their criminal goods. A similar problem exists at The Tor Project which on the face of it sounds like a legitimate idea.

The Tor network provides a safe haven from surveillance, censorship, and computer network exploitation for millions of people who live in repressive regimes, including human rights activists in countries such as Iran, Syria, and Russia.

People like that do need protection and so this sounds like a great idea. One slight problem though, it sounds like a great idea to hackers and other criminals as well who of course also use the network. As a result of the illegitimate use, the network are now under attack, a cyber attack. According to one of the commenters on the site is is because…

 

On December 19th, 2014 Anonymous said:
Yes, my inside sources have informed me that the FBI is planning to take down parts of the Tor network as part of the investigation into the source of the Sony hack by North Korean sympathizers.

The Tor Project is now moving to protect their users.

 

The Tor Project has learned that there may be an attempt to incapacitate our network in the next few days through the seizure of specialized servers in the network called directory authorities. (Directory authorities help Tor clients learn the list of relays that make up the Tor network.) We are taking steps now to ensure the safety of our users, and our system is already built to be redundant so that users maintain anonymity even if the network is attacked. Tor remains safe to use.

We hope that this attack doesn’t occur; Tor is used by many good people. If the network is affected, we will immediately inform users via this blog and our Twitter feed @TorProject, along with more information if we become aware of any related risks to Tor users.

Yes interesting that they say it is used by many good people, as the clear inference is that it is also used by many bad people which is no doubt the reason for the cyber attack by the FBI if what the commenter said is true.

The Tor network provides a safe haven from surveillance, censorship, and computer network exploitation for millions of people who live in repressive regimes, including human rights activists in countries such as Iran, Syria, and Russia. People use the Tor network every day to conduct their daily business without fear that their online activities and speech (Facebook posts, email, Twitter feeds) will be tracked and used against them later. Millions more also use the Tor network at their local internet cafe to stay safe for ordinary web browsing.

Tor is also used by banks, diplomatic officials, members of law enforcement, bloggers, and many others. Attempts to disable the Tor network would interfere with all of these users, not just ones disliked by the attacker.

Every person has the right to privacy. This right is a foundation of a democratic society. For example, if Members of the British Parliament or US Congress cannot share ideas and opinions free of government spying, then they cannot remain independent from other branches of government. If journalists are unable to keep their sources confidential, then the ability of the press to check the power of the government is compromised. If human rights workers can’t report evidence of possible crimes against humanity, it is impossible for other bodies to examine this evidence and to react. In the service of justice, we believe that the answer is to open up communication lines for everyone, securely and anonymously.

The Tor network provides online anonymity and privacy that allow freedom for everyone. Like freedom of speech, online privacy is a right for all.

 


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  • Honcho

    As a bit of history, this technology was developed by the US Navy, and further developed by DARPA, I’m not surprised the feds are taking ownership, everyone using TOR has something to hide, drug dealers on silk road, traitors on wikileaks, the sharing of child pornography, the hiring of hackers.

    The issue has always been with exit nodes, which can’t be ‘hidden’ like the rest of the layers of the onion, which now look like they are being systematically shut down as we speak.

  • Slijmbal

    Have used TOR to hide IP address in a MMU game and had a quick look see and some enormous %age of use looks illegal – one could even order murder for hire and counterfeit money. There is more legitimate use but that would almost certainly be a small minority.

    I decided to do some research on how private it is and it has a number of vulnerabilities. For instance, if you do whois lookups on the exit nodes and a lot of them are themselves of dubious nature in terms of privacy – research groups and what look like corporates or government entities. And as Honcho points out the exit points are a vulnerability as data is unencrypted there.

    Though they’re not after the exit nodes – there are a smaller number of servers used to help publish available routing IP addresses in a secure manner.

  • Nebman

    These types of commercial endeavors always push the line that somehow their product is outside the realms of the law and somehow the “protection” they offer is immune from anyone. Totally glossing over the fact that the government of the day can simply exercise it’s ultimate right to just go take it and argue about it in court after they’ve got the data.

    Data protection? Good luck!

  • Day Day

    Dodgy things going down on Tor? Absolutely. But it’s also used to protect peoples safety & lives. Places like Iran, with a burgeoning young secular middle class who don’t enjoy the same freedoms they do elsewhere. Countless numbers of them are on Facebook, protected reasonably by services such as Tor. Messing around with Tor could cause grief to many innocents. Besides the smarter crims are usually a few steps ahead of the FBI, in my opinion. What they are doing will not go away by trying to disrupt Tor. Like when they took out Silkroad the first time, a dozen such other sites opened up within a week or two. Just creating more opportunities, for those with the knowledge, skills & motivation.

  • david

    Dont know about tor. I use hma. Have to here to get youtube – also need it in some countries to access skype

  • FredFrog

    I observed many attempts to do naughty stuff where the originating IP address was a TOR endpoint. Consequently, I have now firewalled TOR endpoints, no more access to my servers.

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