Feeds

Infosec analysts back away from 'Feds attacked Tor' theory

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

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

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. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
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
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.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
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.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.