Malicious Tor Relays on over a Hundred Computers

January 4, 2017

For all the effort enterprises go to in securing data through technological solutions, there are also other variables to consider: employees. Ars Technica released an article, Malicious computers caught snooping on Tor-anonymized Dark Web sites, which explained malicious relays were found on over 110 machines around the world. Computer scientists at Northeastern University tracked these computers using honeypot.onion addresses, calling them “honions.” The article continues,

The research is only the latest indication that Tor can’t automatically guarantee the anonymity of hidden services or the people visiting them. Last year, FBI agents cracked open a Tor-hidden child pornography website using a technique that remains undisclosed to this day. In 2014, researchers canceled a security conference talk demonstrating a low-cost way to de-anonymize Tor users following requests by attorneys from Carnegie Mellon, where the researchers were employed. Tor developers have since fixed the weakness that made the exploit possible. More than 70 percent of the snooping hidden services directories were hosted on cloud services, making it hard for most outsiders to identify the operators.

While some may wonder if the snooping is a result of a technical glitch or other error, the article suggests this is not the case. Researchers found that in order for a directory to misbehave in this way, an operator has to change the code from Tor and add logging capabilities. It appears the impact this will have is yet to be fully revealed. 

Megan Feil, January 4, 2017


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