Feeds

Russian spyboss brands Tor a crook's paradise, demands a total ban

Anti-child-abuse campaign sparks push to outlaw anonymising network

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Russia's spybosses are contemplating blocking access to the Tor network and similar privacy tools that try to prevent netizens from being traced online.

The proposal - pushed by Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (the FSB) - sets out a clampdown on technologies top spooks branded tools for "weapon traffickers, drug dealers and credit card fraudsters".

FSB director Aleksandr Bortnikov outlined his hopes of banning the use of Tor in Russia at a session of the motherland's National Anti-Terrorism Committee: he said his agents could work with Russian cops and other security bodies to draft legislation outlawing the network, according to a report in daily broadsheet Izvestia.

The initiative emerged after Head Hunters, a Russian civil movement, lobbied the FSB to block Tor because the technology can be used to circulate and exchange images of child abuse anonymously. (And earlier this month, a man was arrested in Ireland after the FBI alleged he was "the largest facilitator of child porn on the planet". It's believed he ran an ISP that provided server nodes for the Tor network.)

Tor is widely used by privacy-conscious individuals, human rights activists and others to remain anonymous online: it works by randomly routing connections between the user and a website, or other service, through a huge mesh of nodes so that the person cannot be traced, in theory. Many countries, including China, have tried to stamp out use of the technology but this is technically difficult, though perhaps not completely impossible.

Blocking Tor is "not trivial, but if they're not too bothered about accidentally blocking the odd connection that just looks like Tor, it's possible," Martijn Grooten, Virus Bulletin's anti-spam test director told El Reg. "Tor is working hard to make their traffic look 'normal' so it's a cat-and-mouse game."

Blocking Tor and anonymising proxies would intensify Russia's already tight ‪surveillance‬ and ‪censorship‬ regime as well as setting up a precedent for other countries to follow. SORM, the Russian internet and phone surveillance system, is every bit as far reaching as any of the tools the NSA has at its disposal, albeit far less publicised than PRISM and related US programmes. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat patches FINALLY make it out
Eight vulns healed, including XSS and DoS paths
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.