Feeds

Infosec analysts back away from 'Feds attacked Tor' theory

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

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

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. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
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
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
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.
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.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
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.