Feeds

Infosec analysts back away from 'Feds attacked Tor' theory

Those IP addresses we said belong to the NSA? We were probably wrong

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

When Tor admitted early this week that some nodes on the network had suddenly and inexplicably gone dark, thanks in part to a malware attack, theories abounded as to just what was going on and why.

That the FBI arrested a man suspected of using Tor to host child pornography distribution services further fuelled speculation that perhaps US authorities had launched an attack on Tor.

Some infosec specialists quickly analysed the malware and suggested it was controlled by an entity using IP addresses associated with defence contractor Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and/or the NSA. One and one were promptly put together to suggest three elements explaining the Tor takedown:

  • The arrest of porn suspect Eric Eoin Marques was but one action in a wider attack on Tor
  • The US government, probably the NSA, created weaponised malware to take down Tor
  • SAIC and/or the NSA were the source and/or controller of that malware

A couple of days down the track, that theory is looking rocky, as two of the organisations that helped the malware theory to spread have issued a joint post saying their initial analysis of the malware was wrong.

Cryptocloud and Baneki Privacy Labs write that their initial analysis of the IP addresses used by the “torsploit” probably don't have anything to do with SAIC. Cryptocloud's also less-than-certain it's earlier assertion that NSA IP addresses were involved is right.

The post we've linked to above is long, rambling and suggests that even if it is not possible to find an IP address tied directly to the NSA in the Torsploit code, the incident looks an awful lot like the kind of thing the NSA is known to be capable of and interested in.

Edward Snowden's recent revelations make it plain that the NSA is peering into a great many dark places. Tor's status as a likely gateway to much of the “dark web” means attempts to gain more intelligence on just what lies within the onion router seem well within the bounds of possibility.

For now, however, the dots aren't joined. Nor, for what it is worth, is a decent explanation of where Torsploit came from or just how much damage it has done. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?