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Tor-rorists get sneaky Aphex Twin album peek in dance guru hypegasm

Come for the music, stay for the surveillance

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Richard James, aka electronic music composer Aphex Twin, has been using the power of Tor to hype his new album – and to remind computer users about their own system's security.

The .onion link above leads to a web server hidden in the Tor anonymizing network, and serves what looks like a track listing for a new album dubbed Syro. The track list, complete with BPM values we assume, looks like this:

minipops 67 (source field mix).................120.2
XMAS_EVET10 (thanaton3 mix)....................120
produk 29......................................101
4 bit 9d api+e+6...............................126.26
180db_.........................................130
CIRCLONT6A (syrobonkus mix)....................141.98
fz pseudotimestretch+e+3.......................138.85
CIRCLONT14 (shrymoming mix)....................152.97
syro u473t8+e (piezoluminescence mix)..........141.98
PAPAT4 (pineal mix)............................155
s950tx16wasr10 (earth portal mix)..............163.97
aisatsana......................................102

Also displayed is a list of attributes about the user's computer that can be ascertained by the server software from the user's browser – but they are zeroed out to emphasize the fact that Tor and its associated software tries its best to anonymize surfers.

Visit a mirror of the Tor service hosted on the mainstream web, however, and not only is the track listing redacted, but surfers are shown a rundown of potentially personally identifying information blabbed by the browser.

As publicity stunts go, it's not a bad one. One unfortunate side effect is that Tor users have their systems fingerprinted by the NSA, so that presumably means analysts in Fort Meade are coping with a flood of people who are heavily into "Drukqs," and other music from the electronic balladeer.

It's not the only piece of Aphex Twin publicity out there. The artist's logo was mysteriously spray painted onto the sidewalk outside the offices of The New York Times and there were numerous Twitter-reported sightings in London of a blimp bearing the same sigil floating over the capital city.

OK, so it all looks like a bit of a gimmick at the moment, but at least the exercise is a useful one in reminding people about what their browser shows about them. And in the meantime some of us can look forward to reaching for the lasers some time soon. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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