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Old 2014-11-09, 06:37   #1
Fusion_power
 
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Default Tor, can it be defenestrated?

I've looked at it for a while and see at least one vulnerability. It requires access to data on a breathtaking scale, but if available, Tor can be de-anonymized. Thoughts?
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Old 2014-11-09, 07:29   #2
ewmayer
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I expect much depends on how the user accesses Tor - the getting into" step is probably the juiciest target for a would-be de-anonymizer. For example, Facebook just recently announced that they had added support for users to use FB via Tor - but unless I'm gravely mistaken this requires a login credential of some kind, which the feds could force FB to divulge.

There are surely other potential vulnerabilities, but those related to real-name-associated-signins, especially with 'social' sites which engage in prolific credential-sharing (including with third parties, such as advertisers and 'other enities') seems a very glaring one to me.

Remember, if you're doing anything online, you're basically playing the privacy game on the cyberspooks' and hackers' turf, and many of the rules of the game (e.g. whose data feeds they directly tap into, and who they have 'approached' about coughing up user data) will only be known to them, not you. My take is: If you're doing it online, assume it's not private. Even the theoretically safest crypto protocols are subject to real-world software implementation, and that's usually where "the rub" lies. There's simply too much stuff "you have to take someone's word for" even with respect to the most basic online tasks to ever be truly sure some waypoint hasn't been compromised by "the listeners".

Related: Some interesting stuff on Ars Technica re. the takedown of Silk Road 2.0:
Quote:
When the first Silk Road and its alleged operator, Ross William Ulbricht, were taken down by the US government just over a year ago, it took some technical mojo to track down the server and its operator. That apparently wasn’t the case with Ulbricht’s successor. According to the US Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, Silk Road 2.0 was the victim of some old-fashioned social engineering of the most damaging kind. An undercover federal agent was able to join the site's administration team and gather the intelligence that led to the arrest of Blake Benthall—the alleged operator of the Silk Road successor site who went by the name “Defcon.”

The first Silk Road site, like version 2.0, operated as a “hidden service” on the Tor .onion anonymized network. The FBI claimed that it was able to exploit a flaw in a “captcha” feature of the concealed website to obtain Silk Road 1.0's actual IP address and track the server to a data center in Iceland. Ulbricht’s attorneys called the explanation “implausible,” accusing the FBI of unlawfully hacking the server.

However, in its investigation of Silk Road 2.0, the government took a different technical tack. In a statement issued by the US Attorney’s Office about the arrest, a spokesperson said, ”During the Government’s investigation, which was conducted jointly by the FBI and [Homeland Security Investigations], an HSI agent acting in an undercover capacity (the “HSI-UC”) successfully infiltrated the support staff involved in the administration of the Silk Road 2.0 website and was given access to private, restricted areas of the site reserved for Benthall and his administrative staff. By doing so, the HSI-UC was able to interact directly with Benthall throughout his operation of the website.”

According to the criminal complaint filed in US Court today, the HSI undercover investigator got in on the ground floor with Silk Road's second incarnation. "DPR2," the original operator of the new site, created a forum to discuss launching a replacement site on a hidden site on the Tor network on October 7, 2013—less than a week after the original site was seized. The undercover investigator was invited to join the forum, and the next day was granted forum moderator privileges; by January 2014, the investigator was a paid staff member, receiving 16 payments in Bitcoins totalling about $32,189 based on current exchange rates.
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Old 2014-11-09, 14:51   #3
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The Tor project team have always welcomed serious research into the service. I remember Roger Dingledine several years ago begging everyone at a conference to study all aspects of the system and let him know what they thought! These days, they also have Casper Bowden on board among lots of other good people:
https://www.torproject.org/about/corepeople.html.en

Anyone interested in learning about Tor or contributing at this level (rather than just using the service) should start by reading the relevant papers from past years of the PET symposium:
https://petsymposium.org/2015/links.php
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Old 2014-11-09, 17:27   #4
xilman
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This might also be interesting if you wish to dive in at the deep end.

https://lists.torproject.org/piperma...er/007731.html
Paul

Last fiddled with by xilman on 2014-11-09 at 17:28 Reason: Remove spurious line break in URL
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Old 2014-11-09, 19:42   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xilman View Post
This might also be interesting if you wish to dive in at the deep end.

https://lists.torproject.org/piperma...er/007731.html
Paul
Dang, that's quite the post.

I ran an exit relay for a month or so on my residential connection (I have what is perhaps the best ISP in the US of A, see attachment), but eventually had to give it up as it often interfered with me and my roommate's normal browsing. (Among other things, one cannot edit Wikipedia from an exit relay, and Hulu and Skype *still* block this IP address despite not having had any relay of any sort in a couple of months. Actually, while writing this post I just tried Skype again and it seems to work now. I guess the call I made three weeks ago finally made it through their system.)
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Old 2014-11-12, 23:26   #6
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Darknet Sweep Casts Doubt on Tor | Counterpunch.org
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...it turns out that the Silk Road 2.0 takedown was just the appetizer of a much larger main course called Operation Onymous. Onymous, as in anything but anonymous. Within a matter of hours it was announced that a joint operation involving dozens of officers from the FBI, the DHS, and Europol had taken down a grand total of 414 hidden services on the Tor network. This wasn’t just a single bust, no sir. This was a global dragnet that resulted in the arrest of 17 suspects.

The success of this international operation raises a question: how did they locate the hidden servers and identify the people who managed them?

In this instance Tor hidden services failed to live up to their namesake. Was the sudden collapse of several hundred Tor “.onion” domains the result of traditional police tradecraft ─developing informants, patiently waiting for opportunities, doggedly following leads─ or were security services quietly wielding advanced technical methods?
Related:

Berlin’s digital exiles: where tech activists go to escape the NSA
Quote:
...my conversation with [Laura] Poitras will be the first of a whole series of conversations I have with people in Berlin who either are under surveillance, or have been under surveillance, or who campaign against it, or are part of the German government’s inquiry into it, or who work to create technology to counter it. Poitras’s experience of understanding the sensation of what it’s like to know you’re being watched, or not to know but feel a prickle on the back of your neck and suspect you might be, is far from unique, it turns out. But then, perhaps more than any other city on earth, Berlin has a radar for surveillance and the dark places it can lead to.
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Old 2014-11-13, 01:10   #7
LaurV
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People here speak yodish can not.
(re: changing of the topic title)
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Old 2014-11-13, 02:16   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LaurV View Post
People here speak yodish can not.
(re: changing of the topic title)
ATM, the title is "Tor, can it be defenestrated?"

I am wondering if it perhaps should be defenestrated. It seems that in the current situation, Tor only provides a false sense of security. Not that it matters to me, as I've never used that sort of service.

EDIT: I generally take the attitude that if snoops want any bit of my data and communications, they will take it.....as if they probably haven't already. The only question is whether one's particular stream of data becomes interesting enough to examine, out of the torrents which are captured.

Last fiddled with by kladner on 2014-11-13 at 02:20
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Old 2014-11-13, 19:42   #9
Fusion_power
 
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"an" is a greek word meaning "not". So "anonymous" = not known, "onymous" = known. It is a play on words that I picked up from a an Isaac Asimov short story, Anniversary, which was about a device called "anopticon" as in "not' based on optics.

Re TOR being "onymized", all evidence so far is that they have to get through to the far end server and there has to be a vulnerability on that server that can be exploited. There is also some fud going around that they "social engineered" access to silk road 2. This leads me to suspect that both vulnerability and social engineering are red herrings intended to distract from the real method they are using to get into hidden portals.
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Old 2014-11-13, 22:17   #10
ewmayer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fusion_power View Post
There is also some fud going around that they "social engineered" access to silk road 2. This leads me to suspect that both vulnerability and social engineering are red herrings intended to distract from the real method they are using to get into hidden portals.
As detailed above - they infiltrated the top-level support staff. But that does not rule out a deeper tech-level exploit (perhaps enabled by their admin-mole), as the follow-on Counterpunch article suggests.
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Old 2014-11-14, 05:54   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kladner View Post
ATM, the title is "Tor, can it be defenestrated?"
That was after my post.
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