The NSA known for its privacy breaching of internet users across the globe has been found ‘peeling’ the encryption that Tor provides for its users’ information sent online, in order to gain access to sensitive information. Tor is a piece of software, ironically funded by the US government, which enables the anonymity of its users surfing the web, posting on forums and general internet communication; a great way to aid journalists or even the average person in countries that prohibit certain sites and topics of discussion. The methods the NSA has indulged itself in, in order to circumvent a variety of NET encryptions, are arguably controversial. Hacking into private companies in order to steal their server’s encryptions is one example. Another as stated by the New York Times involves collaborating with tech companies to build in backdoors in computing systems and covertly introducing weaknesses in encryption standards. This all may seem like a far-fetched conspiracy theory but as more and more revelations on the NSA’s privacy breaching activities comes to surface, it seems they would do anything to get their hands on sensitive material. Tor, formally known as ‘The Onion Router’, works by layering signals sent online with encryption, these ‘coated’ signals are then sent through a random path through a network of routers which in turn, each peel off a layer of encryption until the signal has reached its destination. This method prevents any one of the routers from having access to all the encryptions at once hence the signal can’t be tracked back to its original sender. Unfortunately for the NSA this method of ‘anonymisation’ has foxed their hackers as they stated themselves through documents leaked by Edward Snowden, ‘…de-anonymize a very small fraction of users.’ In a way this is great for a Tor developer, personally if I was one of them I’d have a big grin on my face. When it comes to tackling Tor, the NSA has no reservations, from utilizing flaws in one of the Mozilla Firefox versions to directing user traffic to their NSA operated servers in order to degrade the service to reduce the number of people using it. The NSA justified its actions by claiming that it only targets criminals such as terrorists and human traffickers. It is without a doubt that certain shady individuals may use Tor or other such online utilities, but claiming that the NSA ‘….collects only those communications that it is authorized by law to collect for valid foreign intelligence,’ as they said in a statement to the Guardian, has been proven to be untrue. It’s common knowledge now that the NSA spies on individuals and organizations that have nothing to do with crime. Take Brazilian Oil Giant Petrobras as an example; they’ve recently invested in $9.5 Billion for security alone after their experience with NSA’s cyber-espionage. In a statement by a representative of the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) and previously a funder of the Tor product, Cindy John says, ‘Of course the government should get to go after bad guys, but they shouldn’t be able to break the security and trust promises of the internet to do that.’ Indeed the US and any other country for that matter should have the right to defend itself from cyber-attacks or malicious users of the web, however the methods used should at the very least be regulated.
This article was imported from an earlier version of Felix Online - see the original article here.