Feeds

Rogue nodes snoop on TOR traffic

Noise on the wire

Seven Steps to Software Security

Researchers have uncovered more evidence that the TOR anonymiser network is being misused by hackers, and quite likely government intelligence agencies.

TOR (The Onion Router) is a network of proxy nodes set up to provide some privacy and anonymity to its users. Originally backed by the US Naval Research Laboratory, TOR became an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) project three years ago. The system provides a way for whistleblowers and human rights workers to exchange information with journalists, among other things. The system also provides plenty of scope for mischief.

The presence of rogue nodes on the network was recently highlighted by security researcher Dan Egerstad, who controversially posted details of login credentials of about 1,000 email addresses, including at least 100 accounts belonging to foreign embassies, obtained by listening to traffic passing through five exit nodes under his control. Abuse of the system is far from isolated, other research suggests.

Members of the Teamfurry community discovered TOR exit-nodes that only forwards traffic association with ports used for unencrypted versions of protocols including IMAP and POP email (TCP ports 143 and 110), and IM traffic. Other nodes only relay traffic associated with MySpace or Google searches. The malign purposes behind such a system are fairly easy to guess, while their legitimate use is far trickier to imagine.

"Even though just a suspicious configuration isn’t enough to tag an exit-node evil, I wouldn’t touch these with a ten-foot long toothpick," Teamfurry warns.

Another Tor exit node used fake SSL certificates to run man-in-the-middle phishing attacks. Information on the rogue node was forwarded to German authorities, who moved quickly to take down the node. The node was the only one of 400 nodes tested that was running man-in-the-middle attacks, but as net security firm F-Secure notes, it "only takes one".

TOR is set up such that users have little or no idea who controls the exit nodes their data passes through. For this reason encrypting sensitive traffic sent over the network is the first, but not the only, security precaution for using the network. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
Attackers raid SWISS BANKS with DNS and malware bombs
'Retefe' trojan uses clever spin on old attacks to grant total control of bank accounts
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.