Feeds

Rogue nodes snoop on TOR traffic

Noise on the wire

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

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. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
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
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
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.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.