On being targeted by the NSA

As quoted in the original article on Das Erste:

We've been thinking of state surveillance for years because of our work in places where journalists are threatened. Tor's anonymity is based on distributed trust, so observing traffic at one place in the Tor network, even a directory authority, isn't enough to break it. Tor has gone mainstream in the past few years, and its wide diversity of users -- from civic-minded individuals and ordinary consumers to activists, law enforcement, and companies -- is part of its security. Just learning that somebody visited the Tor or Tails website doesn't tell you whether that person is a journalist source, someone concerned that her Internet Service Provider will learn about her health conditions, or just someone irked that cat videos are blocked in her location.

Trying to make a list of Tor's millions of daily users certainly counts as widescale collection. Their attack on the bridge address distribution service shows their "collect all the things" mentality -- it's worth emphasizing that we designed bridges for users in countries like China and Iran, and here we are finding out about attacks by our own country. Does reading the contents of those mails violate the wiretap act? Now I understand how the Google engineers felt when they learned about the attacks on their infrastructure.

No, not all comments here are anonymous. Some, such as those from phobos and arma, are really pseudononymous, except we know their identities. Maybe we could say noms de guerre?

But to add another point, addressed to newer users of Tor, ignore the childish comments on the blog posts. Tools are your choice, so choose carefully. This piece: https://blog.torproject.org/blog/ten-things-look-circumvention-tool is dated yet remains a excellent starting point for assessing tools like Tor.

Those who support Tor understand that the same technologies that assist dissidents, domestic violence victims and whistleblowers with anonymity also assist FUD marketeers. That's likely a privilege they enjoy in part due to the Tor Project itself.

Oh, irony...

Anonymous

July 08, 2014

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I have read much about 'Das Erste'. Here is what i found. At first you don't count on it but das erste turns out to be utterly evil. They are using polite wording but be careful, don't let them fool you. They lie, are warmongers and use every form of war propaganda to cover up wars to deceive citizens and so on. ARD is financed by a deceptive form of racketeering. They call it 'contribution service' which you pay. But you don't pay, they simply demand the money. So they blackmail you for the money and if you don't cough it up they start a witchhunt on you, calling you everything. They use criminal complaints to get the money. But the search warrants turn out to be illegal. Clearly it is a tax they are robbing from you to pay their war propaganda. Tax is about the same form of racketeering. Have you ever tried not to 'pay' taxes? Anyone who tries gets the same harassment. You could very well call the ARD mafia. Since january they are covering up the facist coup, warcrimes, mass murder and ethnic cleansing in the Ukraine.

So anything the ARD says has to be treated with utmost mistrust and caution. They mix truth with deception, a danger to the unwary.

Anonymous

July 09, 2014

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So where would be the best place to start for an internet/security savvy person with basic coding experience to begin ramping up their security and anonymity?

I think that's a central question that the whole "LibTech" or whatever-you-wanna-call-it scene needs to start answering better.

Speaking of grants and funding, the reason that bridge isn't clear is because too many people already in the scene don't like competition.

There's no one simple answer for someone with your background and "basic coding experience" is a bit vague. However you do contribute should obviously be in something you enjoy.

But as a simple starting point, you might:

  • Read through some Tor design documents in an area of interest. This will give you some context and maybe something sound fun to improve.
  • Run a relay or bridge on the operating system you're most comfortable with and tweak away. Let others know any interesting OS tweaks.
  • Most important in terms of the future of the project itself IMHO, get other people using the Tor Browser, running relays, and more generally, understanding the importance of privacy and anonymity. The world needs more users, more Tor network diversity and we need to win the broader arguments in society.

Just my personal feedback. I don't represent anything, including myself often as much as not.

Not Living in Munich

Anonymous

July 09, 2014

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I am an ordinary citizen who has used Tor and Tails for years to protect my privacy. Just want to reiterate my appreciation to the two teams for all their work on behalf of everyone who is a target--- which is, as we must not forget, everyone in the world. Ordinary citizens, journalists, lawyers, activists... everyone.

My reaction to the latest disclosures:

1. We knew all this already but it's a huge advance to have documentary evidence, because it may help destroy the Catch-22 which has thwarted privacy advocates in the US, the obviously fallacious claim that they have no standing because they cannot prove they are being spied on.

2. The EFF gave good advice: Tor Browser Bundle and Tails remain two of the best privacy-enhancing tools, and everyone should be using them as much as possible. (Which requires greatly increasing the number of Tor nodes; I suggest that businesses everywhere should consider sponsoring a Noisebridge node as a public service.)

3. The media coverage outside the US has been much better than that inside the US. Most news stories in the US media greatly understate the problem, by pretending that only two particular people (Roger and Sebastian) were targeted. This completely misses the point that Directory Authorities are targeted specifically to record the true IPs (hour by hour) of everyone using Tor during the next hour, worldwide. Another point almost all news media outlets missed is that the published rules are only a selection, date from a particular time period, and appear to be deprecated rules offered in training documents; the current rules are probably more sophisticated. One point which even sophisticated commentators may have missed: some years ago, NSA insiders were complaining about their covert DPI boxes being too slow to "collect it all", and one interpretation of the fact that some REGEXs are imperfect might be that they did it that way to gain speed. Previous leaks hinted that a few years ago, XKS was mainly C++ code which is recompiled in each collection station every time they add a new "selector" (apparently every few days). Any comment from Jacob about this suggestion?

Anyone know if the "selection" of Linux Journal will finally push kernel.org to explain what it knows about the infamous intrusion a few years ago?

Anonymous

July 09, 2014

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Special thanks to arma for not abandoning the blog comments as a source of feedback from the user base.

As a long-time Tor user, I'd like to address the old issue of Tor's weirdly "secret" support from various pieces of the US government:

1. The USG is huge, and its many parts not infrequently have contradictory "agendas". During the past year, several respected reporters have written articles pointing out that Tor is funded by the good guys (for example, one piece of the U.S. State Department wants to help bloggers in "adversary nations"), and simultaneously attacked by the bad guys. Our job as activists is to persuade more of the US government act like good guys, and to impel the U.S. Congress to simply eradicate the parts which act like criminals.

2. There must be hundreds of US citizens who spent one summer as an NSA intern. Most people who do that decide they really dislike spying on everyone, and quit. Good for them!

3. "Sponsor F is SRI International, http://www.sri.com/" Oh no, Roger, say it isn't true! (SRI is much too close to the criminal element in the USG).

4. Roger, I hope you will suggest to the secret sponsors that the "secrecy" is counter-productive. Presumably the original rationale was that potential users in "adversary" nations would be frightened off by sponsorship by any part of the USG, but I think those users are more likely to feel that under the circumstances, an enemy of their enemy is sufficiently like a friend that they can use Tor. Especially since the Snowden leaks proved that however much NSA might want to traduce Tor, it has experienced great difficulty in trying to do that.

5. Years ago, some people used to claim that Tor is an NSA scheme for spying on all the world's privacy advocates. The Snowden leaks should have decisively disproven THAT notion. But there's a kernel of truth in this claim: NSA, having decided it can't easily break Tor itself, has decided to regard Tor and GPG/PGP use as a convenient criterion for enumerating all the world's privacy advocates. Solution? Simple: every ordinary citizen, every journalist, every lawyer, judge, and politician should become a privacy advocate, in self-defense, and that means they should use Tor, end-to-end encryption, and all that.

Agreed, but one minor point: we're actually not required to publish our funding. We're required to reply in paper under certain circumstances if somebody shows up at our physical office asking for these documents. We choose to publish them on our website because we want to encourage transparency.

So, while non-profits aren't actually required to publish them, we'd like to live in a world where they all do. Please encourage your favorite other non-profits to publish their financials too!

Anonymous

July 09, 2014

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Regarding the link to comments by Clive Robinson, he wrote: "TOR use is painting a target on yourself, so use for illegal activities is at a minimum like playing Russian Roulette every time."

We now have documentary evidence that the first claim is true, and it comes as no surprise. The second part should be rephrased "don't engage in activities you know to be highly illegal", which is just common sense. So it seems to me that Robinson's comments have little bearing on the question of whether or not ordinary citizens should use Tor.

One troubling issue here is that in many countries, the law is so complicated and so self-contradictory, and so little-tested in the courts, that no one can possibly really know what the law actually IS when it comes to browsing to websites like this one. For example, Tails now spoofs MAC addresses by default, but some ISPs appear to forbid that in their TOS. It is impossible for the ordinary citizen to know what to do in such cases. Am I risking a jail term by coming here, or only being kicked off the internet? Who can know? One thing is clear: without Tor, I and many others would be chilled from reading about or speaking up on almost ANY subject, because in the end, any subject can be controversial to someone, maybe even to some government.

Anonymous

July 09, 2014

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The USG relies on deception and image for power, as do all powers. Governments/powers don't actually exist except as manifestations of the minds of men. Men believe these things into existence out of desires of safety/dependency. Dependency = Slavery. As much as I love the people doing good work on things like Tor, mankinds ultimate problems lie in breeding/immigration restraint and associated self-sufficiency/independence/sustainable-economic-models. There will never be freedom without that, which I would think should be the greatest concern.

We are all living in "grow or die" economies to pay on ever-increasing banker-debts, and we are all way past the point of having nature as a refuge for sustenance after a big failure, while "moving ahead" can only increase our state of dependency/slavery. Really, all of mankind is between a rock and a hard place. Civilization's failure rate? 100%. We never know when to quit, and believe in ourselves too far for too long, every time. Anyway, the ultimate security is living in independence and freedom.

Careful there. You see, everybody who isn't already a Tor fanatic who sees that shirt design will now start associating Tor with criminals even more. We walk a fine line here, and in order to win this fight we need to get ordinary people to understand why we represent the side of good and light.

Anonymous

July 10, 2014

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Two journalists who DO "get it":

https://www.truthdig.com/report/item/heres_one_way_to_land_on_the_nsas_…
Here’s One Way to Land on the NSA’s Watch List
Julia Angwin and Mike Tigas, ProPublica
9 July 2014

Julia Angwin a journalist and author of the recent book Dragnet Nation. Mike Tigas is a journalist and also the developer of a Tor-related project, Onion Browser, but as far as I know he is not directly affiliated with Tor Project.

Bruce Schneier, Glenn Greenwald and others suggested that the XKS code released by Appelbaum et al. is not a Snowden leak, because neither remembered seeing this data in the documents they reviewed. Angwin and Tigas write "we did a little sleuthing, and found that the NSA’s targeting list corresponds with the list of directory servers used by Tor between December 2010 and February 2012". But comparing the last "added date" and first "removed date" in the list of Tor routers mentioned in the leaked code, as reported by Angwin and Tigas, I find that the leaked code probably dates to the period Feb 2010 through Apr 2012. Either way, these dates appear to be consistent with the hypothesis that this is after all a Snowden leak.

Someone wrote above "i am not doing anything wrong.so no worry" [sic], a variant of the often heard misconception that "if I have done nothing wrong, I have nothing to hide" [sic]. Assuming my sarcasm detector is functioning adequately, I recommend that this person read Angwin's book, because she effectively demolishes this argument.

(I have no financial relation to Angwin, Tigas, or the Tor Project.)

Regarding responses to our being individually targeted, I support those who urged caution in considering such civil disobedience measures as embedding snarky messages in fake onion addresses or trying to exploit vulnerabilities in the (old) leaked code. Much better for privacy researchers to use their collective brainpower to anticipate the enemy's next move, and to thwart it using (legal) technical countermeasures.

Another useful activity for technically able persons angered by these revelations: use your knowledge of statistics to estimate from leaked documents and other public information such crucial secret items as the number of individual US persons targeted by NSLs, and the number of individuals caught up in the NSA dragnet. One elementary technique is described here:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/05/20/german_tank_problem_and_leaky_d…

Sophisticated capture-recapture methods might work even better if combined with Bayesian analysis.

Anonymous

July 10, 2014

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We can't hide anything from goverment specially from the web.If anyone think i use tor so i can do anything that is wrong.I am using tor for personal satisfaction.My opinion : Nothing is anonymity on web and i don't care if goverment spy on me because i voted them .They have right to do anyting to protect the country.

"I am using tor for personal satisfaction."

How does using Tor provide satisfaction to you?

"They [the government] have right to do anyting [sic] to protect the country."

Anything?

And even if so, how do you know that "protecting the country" is the real reason and not merely a convenient pretext?

Anonymous

July 11, 2014

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Please note the results of this study http://goo.gl/MA3KS1 on tor. The authors wrote:

"Our analysis shows that 80% of all types of users may be de-anonymized by a relatively moderate Tor-relay adversary within six months. Our results also show that against a single AS adversary roughly 100% of users in some common locations are deanonymized within three months (95% in three months for a single IXP)."

What they did? They simulated a tor attack with a thread model of an attacker that resembles the capabilities of the NSA, which sits in internet backbones and is closely watching tor servers, tor downloaders, and almost certainly operates own tor relays for attracting tor users as prey, like in a honeypot

The interesting thing is the fast speed and the high success rate of this kind of attack at tor users.

According to the testimony of whistleblower Binney http://goo.gl/nBwk1p , at the german parliament's NSA investigation panel, a huge problem is that the NSA collects too much data to analyze them all.

So they somehow needed to separate traffic of ordinary people and of suspects. And for this job, tor is very suitable indeed. The german computer magazine C't has warned http://goo.gl/HNvtHr earlier that tor users may be some kind of prey for NSA.

By noting the IP address of anyone who downloads tor or accesses a tor directory authority they first get a list of persons who want to be anonymous for some reason. These IP addresses can then be monitored in order to catch an interesting moment when they, by accident, do not make use of tor.

But unfortunately, the study http://goo.gl/MA3KS1 shows that an attacker with capabilities like the NSA can even de-anonymize tor users themselves very easily.

According to Binney before 2001, NSA "created a network graph of the entire world where" they "could zoom in separate network parts and filter all emails and phone calls from there".

Accidentally, just at the same time around 2001 http://goo.gl/uoYMXm , the software tor, which promises the user anonymity on the assumption that no agency can monitor the entire internet, was created with support of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the United States.

If one reads the last "tor annual report"https://www.torproject.org/about/findoc/2012-TorProject-Annual-Report.p… then one finds that, surprisingly, 60 % of tor's financial income comes from the US government. This alone could create the suspicion that tor is a honeypot for the NSA.

One should note that these famous slides from Snowden, saying that "tor stinks" http://goo.gl/67kcFt were from gchq, not from the NSA.

It maybe that the gchq agents did not have the security clearance to de-anonymize tor users, which is easily possible for someone who can operate a tor relay or sits at the internet backbones, like the NSA. The tor project writes on its own homepage:http://goo.gl/dKyiae

"A branch of the U.S. Navy uses Tor for open source intelligence gathering, and one of its teams used Tor while deployed in the Middle East recently" [But for what they use tor in the middle east, the website does not disclose, of course. Perhaps they used it for de-anonymizing and blackmailing?]

At least the tor project further notes:

"Tor can't solve all anonymity problems. Also, to protect your anonymity, be smart. Be aware that Tor does not provide protection against end-to-end timing attacks: If your attacker can watch the traffic coming out of your computer, and also the traffic arriving at your chosen destination, he can use statistical analysis to discover that they are part of the same circuit."

And this is exactly what the NSA can do. By collecting all users who downloaded tor, NSA monitor where the traffic from these IP's goes into the tor network and where it leaves the tor network and they also can do timing analysis. So even the tor homepage basically says that NSA can de-anonymize all tor users.

That this is practically true was demonstrated by researchers here:

http://www.ohmygodel.com/publications/usersrouted-ccs13.pdf
They simulated an attack against tor from an adversary with capabilities that the NSA is known to have and write: "Our analysis shows that 80% of all types of users may be de-anonymized by a relatively moderate Tor-relay adversary within six months. Our results also show that against a single AS adversary roughly 100% of users in some common locations are deanonymized within three months (95% in three months for a single IXP)."

How did spiegel write in early 1997 on the situation with security soft and hardware: http://cryptome.org/jya/cryptoa2.htm

"What looked like inpenetrateable secret code to the users of the Crypto-machines, who acted in good faith, was readable with not more than a finger exercise for the informed listener.[...] In the industry everybody knows how such affairs will be dealed with," said Polzer, a former colleague of Buehler. "Of course such devices protect against interception by unauthorized third parties, as stated in the prospectus. But the interesting question is: Who is the authorized fourth?"" In the old Spiegel article on Crypto AG, BND created an entire crypto hardware company. With management, shareholder value, and engineers, who where then forced by management to implement backdoored encryption routines.

And now we have tor, which is vulnerable against an attacker with exactly the capabilities of NSA, and of course tor was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the United States at a time where NSA already was able to create a network graph of the entire world http://goo.gl/itKDUy

Wow that's a long post. Here's some more reading:

https://blog.torproject.org/blog/improving-tors-anonymity-changing-guar…

That's the response and explanation for the research paper you cite. It *is* a big deal, but it is not necessarily a fundamental problem with the Tor design.

Also when you say "created with support from DARPA" and then later you say "developed by DARPA" as if they're synonyms, you're undermining your credibility. Yes we used DARPA's money, but no they didn't write (or help write) Tor.

As for what NCIS used Tor for in Iraq: they told me they were using it to keep people snooping on their network connection from learning their (country) affiliation. Sounds plausible to me.

Oh, and finally: what is your reasoning for thinking the "Tor stinks" slides are written by GCHQ? I used to think that too, but then I talked to more people who are familiar with classification habits, and now I no longer think that.

Regarding your link, I think the following statement from the tor project is especially funny:

" Secondly, their scenario has the adversary control the Autonomous System (AS) or Internet Exchange Point (IXP) that maximally deanonymizes the user (they exclude the AS that contains the user and the AS that contains her destinations). This "best possible point to attack" assumption a) doesn't consider how hard it is to compromise that particular part of the Internet,"

Well, I know at least one "internet exchange point IXP, where they are making a full take. And this is just the worlds largest IXP today.

Germany's g10 law says that they can make a full take of 20% of the network capacity of a provider. At the hearing of the NSA investigation comission of the german parliament, the judges noted that 20% of the capacity of the largest internet exchange point in the world, de-cix is around its current maximum load of 3.4 Tbit/s, see p. 13:

http://www.bundestag.de/blob/280844/35ec929cf03c4f60bc70fc8ef404c5cc/ma…

But not only de-cix is copied by ND but they also copy from other providers:

http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/vorab/bnd-laesst-sich-abhoeren-von-verbin…

And that BND indeed makes a full take if it copies, this was admitted by the german government:

http://goo.gl/jsh7BZ "Hierzu fordert der BND gemäß § 2 Abs. 1 S. 3 G10 in Frage kommende Telekommunikationsdienstleister auf, an Übergabepunkten gemäß § 27 TKÜV eine vollständige Kopie der Telekommunikationen bereitzustellen." in english:

"For this, BND demands, according to article 2 paragraph 1, sentence 3 G10, from the telecommunication providers in question to provide a complete copy of the telecommunication data at the handover points according to article 27 TKÜV."

That the internet exchange point de-cix is among the providers that are forced to provide a copy to BND was admitted by de-cix operators to the german computer magazine C't: http://goo.gl/PAXT8Z

So it is no wonder that there is a strange coincidence between the maximum load of 3.5Tbit/s at the world's largest internet node de-cix, and the NSA's project Rampart-A, which is advertised as having a network load of "more than 3 Tbit/s":

http://goo.gl/UqfUFg

By the way, how the BND guys react if they catch e.g a pedophile banker, this is widely known (no, they do not give this to the police as they should....)

http://www.heise.de/tp/artikel/29/29434/1.html

BND agents start their usual blackmail operation as follows

"with help of professionals from the red light district, BND had set up a trap. A hotel suite was rigged full of cameras. After showing the photos to the banker, he soon was cooperative and agreed to give more data on german tax evaders"

They are in fact using these persons as their own agents....

The tor software does a good job to protect against a company, like google or facebook tracking you. But the anonymity it provides rests on the idea that no agency could monitor the entire internet. Whilst this assumption is true for companies like google or an advertising service, it is useless against state actors like the NSA, which were able to create a graph of the internet when tor was created.

However, tor may be usefull as a first step in protecting against NSA. It may just give them some work to de-anonymize. But the most important thing is to encrypt the content of the communication.

Unfortunately, ssl connections with webbrowsers are not safe.
NSA regularly impersonates google and yahoo with false certificates that are accepted by many browsers. They call it "project flying pig"

https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2013/09/new_nsa_leak_sh.html
http://googleonlinesecurity.blogspot.de/2013/12/further-improving-digit…

So one has to verify the validity of a certificate personally. This is not practical with most websites. Hence one should restrict communication to people whom one knows personally.

For this, retroshare does a good job: http://retroshare.sourceforge.net/
It supports pgp encrypted email, chat, newsgroups, and voip, and it can be run over tor:

http://retroshareteam.wordpress.com/2012/12/28/cryptography-and-securit…

So if they de-anonymize the tor network, they would still sit on funny files encrypted with 4096 bit keys.

Regarding the BND, I think this story is fascinating:

http://www.heise.de/ct/artikel/Die-Bayern-Belgien-Connection-284812.html

https://netzpolitik.org/2013/deutsche-forschungen-zu-spracherkennung-fu…

It shows that the database software, which BND used to analyze raw data has in fact been been stolen with the entire sourcecode by the BND from a small german database company that develops software for police work. The database company has barely survived this attack by BND employees and won a lawsuit against a BND agent in a german court. She blogs here about her story here:

http://blog.polygon.de/2013/08/03/zweipluszwei_i1/3286

Her software patent holds in Germany and the US and she says on her website that she never has given the BND any rights to use her database software.

This is interesting, since BND gave NSA two sowftware tools: Mira4 and VeraS

http://www.spiegel.de/media/media-34037.pdf

According to the Snowden files, Mira4 and VeraS are used to analyze connections between data in the flow. This is exactly what the software that the BND stole could do. One would need a better technical description of these tools, but it could be that the M in Mira4 stands for "Mevisto", which was name of the company under which the BND tried to sell the stolen database software to europol:

http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-19181057.html

http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-19542774.html

If one would have more detailed information on Mira4 and VeraS, one could perhaps show that BND and NSA are using stolen software or at least are violating an existing patent when they use their software to analyze the flow of data coming from internet fibers....

Anonymous

July 11, 2014

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It is clear to me that Communists have taken over the NSA. In older days you had to earn your surveillance. You had to do something that sets you apart to deserve special attention.
Nowadays communist NSA seems to have the idea that everybody is eligible for surveillance. This is absolutely Unamerican. I decline to pay for their socialist ambitions with my taxes!!!!

You can name it as you like but reality all and any BIG country/ corporation/organization ruling group shifts to protect and strength their internal structure and staff against any potential changes or disclosures from 'slaves' "by any mean necessary". Its called "national security". Your live means nothing. Thereis no place for democracy. Call them communists, fascists, imperialists they are all the same. And they WILL force you pay for any their "ideas".

Anonymous

July 11, 2014

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In an interview with Kim Zetter, Glenn Greenwald discusses the Das Erste story and elaborated on why he thinks there is a second leaker:

http://www.wired.com/2014/07/greenwald-q-a/
Glenn Greenwald on Why the Latest Snowden Leak Matters
Kim Zetter
9 July 2014

After thinking over what he said, I realized that one of the published excerpts from the Snowden documents suggests a plausible second source, and if I guess correctly, the NSA is once again revealed to be an organization suffering from crippling self delusions about its supposed ability to gull anyone it pleases.

Someone wrote above:

"By noting the IP address of anyone who downloads tor or accesses a tor directory authority they first get a list of persons who want to be anonymous for some reason. These IP addresses can then be monitored in order to catch an interesting moment when they, by accident, do not make use of tor."

That's about right, but that doesn't mean NSA's evil schemes will always work the way they want.

NSA likes to try to convince their enemies (who consist of every citizen of every nation in the world, especially their own employees) that they have the best equipment, the smartest and most ruthless people, the biggest and best botnet ever, the most sophisticated math, the best security anywhere, and so on. Except for the last item, there is some truth in such boasts, but their propaganda is intended to obscure the fact that in the end NSA is built with duct tape and bailing wire, and always has been. Sure, NSA has lots of surveillance gear, but sometimes the air conditioning doesn't work, which is a sensible sign of far deeper flaws in its infrastructure, flaws which unlike the A/C cannot be fixed. We know that because the flaws have always been there. They have NEVER been fixed and they never will be. NSA has a long history of being improvisatory on a grand scale, and huge organizations which are mostly improvised and unsupervised inevitably wind up doing great harm to everyone, including themselves. The Snowden leaks are only the latest in a long series of episodes which teach this old lesson to a new generation, every decade or so.

The poster mentioned the Crypto AG scandal (now many decades old). But I think the Yardley leaks are an even more apt predecessor for the Snowden leaks.

The only honest comment I have yet heard from the NSA leadership about the Snowden leaks was a plaintive mumble to the effect that "we were only doing what's in our nature". And it's true that everything revealed by Snowden (and the second leaker) represents, from the spymaster perspective, a "natural evolution" from the illegal burglaries of embassy safes which so scandalized the world when Herbert O. Yardley revealed them.

But wiser heads can see that the activities of Yardley were illegal, immoral, and ultimately very harmful to the national interests of the USA (that's why the USG shut down the Black Chamber he headed), and of course the same is true of the more recent activities of NSA, only a million times worse, because NSA has actually has created the nightmare world which haunted Orwell and other visionaries who foresaw the horrors which would ensue if totalitarianism acquired sufficiently powerful technologies, and because NSA has made the same disastrous error committed by previous regimes which declared war on the entire world. That never worked out very well for the totalitarian warmongers in the past, and I doubt the story will end well for NSA either.

Those who have never heard of Herbert O. Yardley are directed to Wikipedia and the classic history by David Kahn.

Two key points about the analogy:

First, the "greatest achievement" of the American Black Chamber was to assist US diplomats negotiate a treaty which set the number of battleships the Imperial Japanese Navy was permitted to build at a lower level than the Japanese militarists had wanted. But this "disadvantage" for the IJN had become entirely moot well before Pearl Harbor, and Yardley's disclosures did lasting damage to the reputation of the USA as an "honest broker", damage which far exceeded the momentary value of his minor intelligence coup. This story encapsulates the entire history of NSA. The agency is always bleating that they are pulling off all these amazing intelligence coups which are "invaluable" to the State or War Departments, but the plain fact is that the truth always comes out, and it always does lasting harm to American interests which far exceeds any temporary unfair "advantage" gained from those minor intelligence coups. That's why the US Congress would be wise to simply shut it down once and for all.

Second, Yardley wrote a tell all book because he needed the money. Snowden is a classic whistleblower who went public after having exhausted all internal avenues for dissent. So to that extent the analogy fails.

This thread should somewhere contain a link to the Freehaven bibliography of academic papers on technical aspects of anonymity-enhancing systems, so here it is:

http://freehaven.net/anonbib/topic.html#Anonymous_20communication

Not everyone who uses Tor can easily understand very many of these papers, but it should be evident that many smart people are working hard to improve Tor. One essential way of doing that is by trying to think like the enemy, and trying to (partially) subvert it, in order to make the next version even harder to subvert.

The poster is correct in suggesting that NSA poses a very real and present danger to the entire world. But it's far from invincible; it suffers from unfixable internal contradictions which in the end make it possible for ordinary people all over the world to band together to fight it--- and win.

Anonymous

July 11, 2014

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NSA is our deadliest and most capable enemy, but not our only enemy; nations other than the US are rapidly ramping up their own cyberespionage and cyberwar capabilities, and have already demonstrated their eagerness to follow the US lead in employing them.

Repressive nations also follow US policy leads; here is one recent example:

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AS_MYANMAR_JOURNALISTS_JAILED?SI…
5 journalists jailed 10 years for Myanmar stories
10 July 2014

The reporters quote a Myanmar government official as "justifying" the recent sentence of several journalists to hard labor like this: "It is a national security issue, and even a country like the U.S. would respond the same way on these matters."

Americans should bear in mind when they read about drone strikes that other nations are developing lethal drones also; perhaps this will increase their sympathy with the victims of collateral damage in current war zones. The NSA's answer to this "emerging threat" would be "spy even more on even more people". I suggest that a far cheaper, more humane, and wiser answer would be to stop setting such a sickening example for nations like Myanmar.

Anonymous

July 12, 2014

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So the NSA doesn't like Tor users. Can it be the NSA is in fear it could miss out on something because they cannot watch all of it at will? They are like peeping toms making their lair in the bushes. Beware of the bushes, here there be dragons. Maybe they are just like simple highwaymen.

Anonymous

July 13, 2014

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There seems to be a lot of paranoia in this thread. Yes the NSA is watching the internet. It is their job. Certainly some of the humans working at the NSA will act beyond their authorization, plan for it. There will be more Snowdens, when circumstances demand action. I worry a lot less about the NSA than most of you apparently. I watch the fringes. I use Tor to avoid leaving footprints on nut basket web pages, and I can tell you my friends, the world is full of nut baskets and goof balls, some of them are angry and armed. I would suggest that we work hard to keep the governments we already have honest. I prefer a stable government that I can complain about to going back to the barricades and pitchforks. Best sign-out recently seen: “Don’t trust everything you read on the internet” -Thomas Jefferson

Can you give an example where the NSA prevented an armed nutcase to go on a rampage? If the NSA would care about such cases the school massacres of recent years would not have happened. There were enough online indications before these shootings. I think you confuse the NSA with law enforcement.

Clearly you are an optimist if you think more Snowdens will pop up on demand. In the US we have about 1.4 million people with top security clearances. They all went along year after year. As far as I know Snowden has been the only one in over a decade of excessively expanding surveillance to provide written evidence. Personal integrity and acting upon that is alarmingly rare.

Anonymous

July 14, 2014

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Protecting the people from the government of the USA is important look at police brutality then google the patriot act the US is doomed no more freedom and no justice to be found please by all means help the people

Anonymous

July 14, 2014

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"So the NSA doesn't like Tor users".

Indeed they do not, but who cares, because EVERYBODY hates THEM!

http://boingboing.net/2014/07/14/everyone-hates-the-nsa-survey.html

Turns out nobody likes being spied on, suffering intrusions into their computers/phones, data deletion, or murder by drone.

But guess what? NSA and GCHQ themselves use Tor. A lot.

Indeed, GCHQ has incorporated Tor into the infrastructure used by its 1500+ analysts working in the doughnut:

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/07/14/manipulating-online-polls…

According to GCWiki, some JTRIG tools which incorporate Tor are:

ALLIUM ARCH
JTRIG UIA via the Tor network.
OPERATIONAL
JTRIG Infrastructure Team

(UIA = Unified Information Access tool)

ASTRAL PROJECTION
Remote GSM secure covert internet proxy using TOR hidden services
OPERATIONAL
JTRIG Infrastructure Team
PROJECTION

(I wonder: what happens when the Dutch National Police try to delete GCHQ's hidden services?)

FRUIT BOWL
Domain for Generic User/Tools Access and TOR split into 3 sub-systems.
DESIGN
JTRIG Infrastructure Team

(FRUIT BOWL is a key component of GCHQ's remodeled infrastructure, introduced about 2012.)

NUT ALLERGY
JTRIG Tor webbrowser-Sandbox IE replacement and FRUIT BOWL sub-system
PILOT
JTRIG Infrastructure Team

(Tails for GCHQ?)

BUMBLEBEE DANCE
JTRIG Operational VM/TOR architecture
OPERATIONAL
JTRIG Infrastructure Team

SHADOWCAT
End-to-End encrypted access to a VPS over SSH using the TOR network
JTRIG OSOH

(Scenario: overseas undercover agent wishes to write home without making it too obvious to the authorities in the country where he is stationed, who are of course doing some internet spying of their own.)

SILVER SPECTER
Allows batch Nmap scanning over TOR In Development
JTRIG Software Developers

A related JTRIG tool is specifically designed for scanning entire countries.

Another related tool tries to pull out content from poorly controlled ports like 445, from every computer in the world, just to see what's there. This sometimes goes under the name of "deep web collections":

HACIENDA
is a port scanning tool designed to scan an entire country or city. It uses GEOFUSION to identify IP locations. Banners and content are pulled back on certain ports. Content is put into the EARTHLING database, and all other scanned data is sent to GNE and is available through GLOBAL SURGE and Fleximart.
NAC HACIENDA Taskers.
Fully operational.

Also of interest:

ROLLING THUNDER
Distributed denial of service using P2P.
Built by ICTR, deployed by JTRIG.

(So the entity which has been abusing the Tor network by flooding it with P2P is GCHQ.)

We all use Tor; many of us sometimes use other popular open source tools like Kismet. It's always interesting to see that the enemy uses the very same tools we do:

SCREAMING EAGLE
is a tool that processes kismet data in to geolocation information

It must be stressed that JTRIG admits that some of their tools are buggy, and most have technical restrictions not mentioned in the catalog. For example, this one probably won't work on the average Tor user:

MOLTEN MAGMA
CGI HTTP Proxy with ability to log all traffic and perform HTTPS Man in the Middle.
JTRIG Software Developers

Someone wrote "There seems to be a lot of paranoia in this thread." I can't guess which posts he had in mind, but this reminds me that years ago, whenever someone mentioned on a technical forum (these often run on VBulletin, the popular forum software) the suspicion, widespread among many in the telecom industry for many years, that NSA was breaking into IX switches all over the globe in order to spy on everyone, "people" quickly showed up to disrupt the discussion. The latest leak provides further insight into how the USG and HMG try to "shape" on-line discussions to suit their interests:

FUSEWIRE
Provides 24/7 monitoring of VBulletin forums for target postings/online activity. Also allows staggered postings to be made.
JTRIG Software Developers

SYLVESTER
Framework for automated interaction/alias management on online social networks.
In Development.

Here is a story which focuses on this aspect of the JTRIG catalog:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/07/14/gchq_poll/

The funny thing is, HMG thinks it has hired a lot of bright young people to do its bidding. But what are those bright young people doing at work? Why, playing on-line RPGs, of course!

GLITTERBALL
Online Gaming Capabilities for Sensitive Operations. Currently Second Life.
In development.

Yes, NSA uses tor. They can often afford it. Tor does an excellent job against an individual or a company tracking you. The "targets" or "enemies" of gchq are, most often, just usual linkedIn or facebook users, from which they make their collection.

These targets can not de-anonymize the tor network, since they do not sit on the IXP.

It would be interesting to know whether GCHQ, NSA or BND still use tor when their adversary is a state actor who can easily monitor the entire net. So, do NSA use tor when they do operations in china? Or do russian services successfully use tor when they spy on the NSA? This would be interesting.

As long as one can easily de-anonymize the tor network once one sits at the internet backbones, or monitors the traffic at the points where it enters or leaves the tor network, one should use another encryption layer over ones communications.

Since ssl certificates can be easily faked by NSA and the likes, one has to restrict network communication to friends that one personally knows and from whom one can check their certificate.

So run applications like retroshare http://retroshare.sourceforge.net/ over tor, and the folks at NSA will have more fun with your data. Once they have de-anonymized the traffic, their fun begins with the pgp decryption....

Anonymous

July 15, 2014

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so when nsa protected people at new york from bombs?but they waste time on tor..

or fsb with islam bombs at russian

Anonymous

July 15, 2014

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not sure about extremist but nsa cares about it not the fact that islamist explode at new york every now and then with olympics..nsa jewish organization.they never did anything usefull for america.even cops do more than nsa ever did.

Anonymous

July 15, 2014

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Given the large number of Tor nodes in the UK, TEMPORA, and other factors affecting the Tor network, this seems relevant to the discussion here:

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jul/15/emergency-surveillance-…

Why are HMG and the USG exhibiting such raging paranoia towards their own citizens? Nominally, because they fear "radicalized" citizens returning with new skills from fighting in Syria or Iraq. But it is clear that such possibilities cannot possibly pose an existential threat to the future existence of the UK and USA. So why the paranoia?

The true explanation is suggested by a new study from MOD's Concepts and Doctrine Centre, called "Global Strategic Trends – Out to 2045". This study predicts the decline of the nation state over the next two decades, as corporations increasingly become the center of Establishment power, and as ordinary citizens become increasingly restive:

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jul/11/ministry-of-defence-visi…

Some specific predictions found in the study which may be of interest to understanding how privacy issues may evolve over the next two decades:

* Unmanned systems are increasingly likely to replace people in the workplace, leading to mass unemployment and social unrest.

* Individuals may define themselves less by their nationality, with growing migration and stronger links to virtual communities.

* As the cost of sequencing an individual's DNA continues to fall, targeting an individual using their DNA may be possible by 2045.

* Large multinational corporations could develop their own highly capable security forces.

* Criminals and terrorists will have access to increasingly cheap unmanned drones and space satellites.

This study is only one in a long series of such studies produced by "defense think tanks" in the UK, USA, and other "Western" nations in decline. Indeed, in the USA, such speculations predate 9/11. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the leaders of the US military-industrial complex went looking for plausible new missions, and quickly fixed upon the idea that as Western nations decline, governments will become increasingly fixated on an "internal threat" from a large and growing underclass. In recent years, such US agencies as FBI and DHS have stated in public their view that the greatest threat to the USG comes from internal dissent. It is also worth noting that the new head of DHS wrote some of the notorious "drone memos" which "authorize" certain agencies to assassinate US citizens, even inside the US, using drone strikes. But in a decade, everyone will have drones.

Someone wrote above "I would suggest that we work hard to keep the governments we already have honest. I prefer a stable government that I can complain about to going back to the barricades and pitchforks." But the studies I mentioned earlier, the plans to target citizens, the undemocratic and dishonest way in which such awful legislation as the Snoopers Charter bill are being enacted, show why ordinary citizens would be foolish to depend upon their current governments to look out for their best interests.

On tor-talk, Isis (another Tor developer with experience talking to US spooks) addressed the issue of just whose interests NSA is trying to protect when it targets the entire world:

https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-talk/2014-July/033870.html

The USG encounters an awkward problem whenever it attempts to dampen domestic enthusiasm for revolution: the USA was created by one of the most spectacular revolutions in history, and the grievances expressed by those revolutionaries concerned governmental abuses, like the Writs of Assistance (universal search warrants) issued by the colonial authorities, which bear a striking and unmistakable resemblance to current abuses by US law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The poster quoted Thomas Jefferson, who rebutted that poster's view when he wrote (in a letter to a friend)

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it."

Jefferson penned quite a few other opinions which seem relevant to the dilemma faced by modern citizens:

"Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day."

"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it always to be kept alive."

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies."

"A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the high virtues of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation."

I suppose that as long as we are quoting out of context, one could interpret that last either as advocating for extralegal assassination of US dissidents, or for the disclosures of whistleblowers like Edward Snowden. For my part, I believe that the sum of Jefferson's writings over a long lifetime show clearly that the second interpretion is far more accurate.

Whistleblowers, boot your Tails; enlighten the People!

Anonymous

July 15, 2014

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Someone asked earlier:

"Is there a TOR Forum where people can share information about enhancements to TOR, vulnerabilities and what people's experiences are when using TOR? This would be useful if such a forum doesn't already exist."

Roger answered a few days before Glenn Greenwald's latest reveal:

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/07/14/manipulating-online-polls…

The most popular forum software is VBulletin, and one of the JTRIG "Collection" tools described in the leaked page from GCWiki (c. 2012) is relevant here:

FUSEWIRE
Provides 24/7 monitoring of VBulletin forums for target postings/online activity. Also allows staggered postings to be made.
JTRIG Software Developers

The existence of such tools shows why it is so important for pro-privacy forums to allow anonymous Tor-enabled postings, and to strictly avoid forcing posters to maintain accounts.

(VBulletin apparently fails to use https to "secure" login name and password, much less Perfect Forward Secrecy, implying that all VBulletin forums are sitting ducks for the doughnuts. A Tor Project page warns against logging into any website unprotected by https over Tor, precisely because the exit node operator can collect the username/password if it is transmitted in the clear. But my point is that hosting user accounts at all amounts to inviting the bad 'uns to take their attacks to the next level, like targeted attacks aiming to intrude illicitly into the server.)

Anonymous

July 15, 2014

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How to design a pro-privacy forum software? The JTRIG tools suggest some desiderata:

* no user accounts means no opportunity for the doughnuts to try to break into the user account of a "target",

* automated moderation tools to counter "post-bombing" by the doughnuts,

* very well protected administration accounts designed to counter attempted DOS targeting SSH service and password cracking,

* prepare for DDOS on the forum itself and for enemies attacking the DNS infrastructure to prevent citizens from even finding it.

These JTRIG tools seem relevant:

* CHINESE FIRECRACKER
Overt brute force login attempts against online forums

* SYLVESTER
Framework for automated interaction/alias management on online social networks.

* UNDERPASS
Change outcome of online polls (previously known as NUBILO)

* BOMB BAY
is the capability to increase website hits/rankings.
(i.e. subverting search engines so that citizens cannot find the real forum.)

* SLIP STREAM
Ability to inflate page views on websites.

* GATEWAY
Ability to artificially increase traffic to a website.
(i.e. DDOS over Tor, how nice that they like our network so).

* PREDATORS FACE
Targeted Denial of Service against Web Servers.
(possibly by subverting DNS or by otherwise using "Upstream" pwning).

* SILENT MOVIE
Targeted denial of service against SSH servers.

The JTRIG "Chinese menu" also cites some projects masquerading as citizen initiatives:

* NIGHTCRAWLER
Public online group against dodgy websites.

This reminds me of projects (nominally citizen initiatives) which seek to discover and interdict malware contained in Tor data streams, especially since these projects share information with FBI and such. The stated goal is not a bad idea, but unless such projects have demonstrated the ability and willingness to find and interdict the nasty malware GCHQ and NSA are punting over Tor, they should be regarded, in an abundance of caution, as suspicious.

Anonymous

July 15, 2014

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The MOD prediction that in the next few decades, multinational corporations may have larger armies than nation states may seem far-fetched. But the privitization of the military and paramilitary is already well under weigh on the other side of the pond. The most famous example is probably Blackwater's presence in New Orleans just after Hurricane Katrina, but a more recent example is this:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/06/26/massachusett…

For the MOD predictions, see

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jul/11/ministry-of-defence-visi…

Anonymous

July 15, 2014

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Is it naive to think that there may still be some hope that the UK and US parliaments will start to push back against the "capture" of the governments of those nations by rogue intelligence agencies? Maybe not.

The outgoing DPP has drafted new rules protecting journalists, and he cited the Snowden leaks as proof these are needed:

http://www.theguardian.com/law/2013/oct/18/uk-prosecutor-journalists-la…

GCHQ and NSA should simply be eliminated entirely. Both agencies are incorrigibly corrupt and anti-democratic. They constitute a far worse menace to the existing political systems in the UK and US than any so-called "terror group" or "rogue nation". Because they are themselves rogue shadow governments which function as amoral but technically capable criminal organizations.

Anonymous

July 15, 2014

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Someone wrote above: "I worry a lot less about the NSA than most of you apparently. I watch the fringes. I use Tor to avoid leaving footprints on nut basket web pages, and I can tell you my friends, the world is full of nut baskets and goof balls, some of them are angry and armed. I would suggest that we work hard to keep the governments we already have honest. I prefer a stable government that I can complain about to going back to the barricades and pitchforks."

The poster also mentioned "humans", a tacit admission that much of NSA's oppression machinery is actually robotic. Another crucial point about the USIC's surveillance dragnet which has thus far gone unstated in this thread is the fact that the USIC is using the Big Data snarfed by the global dragnet to perform "predictive analysis" on a wide range of individuals, and in some cases it uses the results of these computerized analyses to draw up revised lists of assassination targets.

Good citizens might well ask: which is more dangerous to the People, a few angry "nut baskets", or a government which has been captured by rogue intelligence agencies? Which is more dangerous, a few deranged citizens armed with (one presumes) small arms, or a government which fields hundreds of heavily armed SWAT teams (even if many masquerade as 501c nonprofits), a government which is armed with hundreds of missile-carrying drones, nuclear weapons designed to kill people without damaging buildings, the surveillance dragnet built by NSA, and the demonstrated willingness to use these population oppression systems against peaceful political dissidents?

Simply asking this question provides the correct answer.

With tongue in cheek, I assert that semantic analysis suggests that the author of the quoted post was Gen. Hayden, who is currently functioning as Chief Propagandist for the Surveillance-Industrial Complex which he helped to create during his time in NSA/CIA. But if this attribution is wrong, this would simply illustrate the point of my own post:

Which is more dangerous to the beleaguered population of our little blue marble, a few angry and armed "nut baskets", or a semiautomatic killing machine, largely unsupervised by humans, which uses fallible algorithms to decide who to assassinate each week?

If you add "active terror groups" to the category of "nut baskets", this question might not be quite so easy to answer, but clearly it is a question which deserves free and honest public debate. A debate which, tellingly, GCHQ and the USIC are evidently determined to prevent.

Anonymous

July 16, 2014

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Speaking of GCHQ and NSA... Given the stated goal to crack 'darknet' and revelations about operating exit nodes, is today's massive pedo sweep across the UK related?

NCA deputy director general Phil Gormley said sex offenders should understand they cannot avoid detection while using the internet, even on the so-called "dark net". "I want as much confusion and fear to remain in the minds of those who want to perpetrate this sort of crime as possible”. Is this just an attempt to confuse or was Tor exploited in some way.

This is a difficult circumstance under which to ask questions about tor security. Do I become a pedo or terrorist suspect just for using tor, and even more so for asking about vulnerabilities during a massive bust, lol. Even if I do, I still need to ask for the sake of anon everywhere. ;)

What is known?

Thanks.

Anonymous

July 17, 2014

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"What happened in the UK?"

It passed.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-28352673
Parliament passes emergency Data Retention Bill
17 July 2014

This is very bad news, not just for UK people but for people everywhere:

http://www.salon.com/2014/07/17/drug_trafficking_and_gmail_now_our_emai…
Drug trafficking and gmail: Now our email is needed to fight common crime?
Marcy Wheeler
17 July 2014

Microsoft and other US "cloud provider" giants are resisting the global data grab, but it should be said that Microsoft is not without sin. See its most recent "botnet takedown", which was badly botched and disrupted the perfectly legal activity of thousands of victims of "collateral damage".

The USIC and its allies are continuing to field what we might delicately call "creative" arguments for why the US Congress should, they say, authorize them to break into the computers of ordinary citizens who are not suspected of doing anything wrong. Two which have come up frequently of late:

(i) clueless Windows users who don't know and don't care (seemingly) that their PC has been enlisted in a botnet pose a menace to the civilized world, they say, so Microsoft wants permission to "remotely access" all PCs suspected of belonging to a botnet, without the knowledge or permission of the legitimate owner, in order to "delete objectionable content" (presumably meaning both malware and any files stored by the botnet owners).

(ii) journalists, bloggers, eco-activists, academic researchers and others might plausibly be targeted by "foreign intelligence organizations" and multinational corporations (all too true, as far as that goes), so the FBI wants permission to "remotely access" their computers, without their knowledge or permission, in order to image drives and look for evidence that other intruders have been there before.

Needless to say, "remote access" is a euphemism for an unauthorized intrusion, and "delete content" means wiping (or cryptolocking) someone's hard drive.

Amazing, isn't it, that Congress continues to give any ear time to these folk?

Suppose some mob boss walked into his Senator's office and said: "In order to conduct my business, I need to make unauthorized clandestine intrusions into computers owned by other people, possibly in other countries. Please make a law just for me so I don't have to worry about anyone possibly accusing me of doing something wrong". I hope the Senator would decline the thousand dollar check and show this fellow to the door. Why should it be any different when he comes calling with an FBI identification badge?

I feel that the Golden Rule is a pretty good rough guide to ethical behavior in most situations. How would the FBI feel about someone breaking into THEIR computers and stealing, altering or deleting data? Not very happy, I should think. And that's why the FBI should be told to get lost when they come, badge in hand, asking to do unto others what no-one wants done unto himself.

Regarding what NSA does with the content it snatches from ordinary citizens caught up in the global dragnet:

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/07/snowden-nsa-employees-routin…
Snowden: NSA employees routinely pass around intercepted nude photos
"These are seen as the fringe benefits of surveillance positions," Snowden says.
by Cyrus Farivar
17 July 2014

Small wonder that UNCHR (United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights) urges that Snowden be amnestied outright, and declares the activities of NSA and GCHQ to be illegal under international law.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/07/un-human-rights-report-and-turnin…
UN Human Rights Report and the Turning Tide Against Mass Spying
By Parker Higgins and Katitza Rodriguez
16 July 2014

This madness must stop. NSA and GCHQ must be eradicated.

Anonymous

July 18, 2014

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John Young does many good things at cryptome.org, and I was very happy to see that website return after that it's latest banishment. He rarely explains why he publishes the things he does, so I have no idea why he just published a somewhat incoherent "critique" of Tor:

https://secure.netsolhost.com/cryptome.org/index.html
2014-1010.pdf
On Trusting Tor: Not If Your Life Is At Stake
July 17, 2014

The author is Bill Blunden, who has written two books on malware.

I can't tell what advice Blunden is really trying to offer, but he seems to be telling citizens to stop using Tor, end-to-end encryption, or any other technical countermeasure. I think that would be very foolish.

Let's briefly review what the people most knowledgeable about the threat landscape think about the most popular privacy-enhancing tools:

* The NSA presenters of the "Tor stinks" briefing said NSA will never be able to directly subvert Tor, and added that they found CNE against Tails to be a "bitch". GCHQ also implicitly endorses Tor by incorporating it as the foundation of their own infrastructure (as discussed above). NCIS investigators posted overseas (to investigate potential fraud by US military contractors, I presume) use Tor to communicate with their bosses, family and friends, without alerting possibly unfriendly local telecom engineers that USG officials are staying in a certain house or hotel room.

* Edward Snowden, someone in an excellent position to know the true capabilities of NSA through 2013 (he did after all teach technical countermeasures to USIC people as part of one of his earlier jobs with the USG), says that end-to-end encryption, properly implemented, works.

Snowden recently expanded on that view in an interview:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/17/edward-snowden-professiona…
Edward Snowden urges professionals to encrypt client communications

Snowden also likes Spideroak:

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jul/17/edward-snowden-dropbo…
Snowden: Dropbox is hostile to privacy, unlike 'zero knowledge' Spideroak

So the people who know best say more people should use Tor and GPG/PGP, not less, and I agree with them.

But Blunden seems to think some privacy advocate out there is telling citizens at risk that simply using Tor will by itself provide for all their security-anonymity needs [sic]. Of course that's not true at all. The blog he cites, from EFF, is here:

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/07/7-things-you-should-know-about-tor

What EFF and other privacy advocates have really been saying is this: everyone is at risk to some extent from targeted attack by professional spooks (or their automated mass attack tools), so by all means use Tor, but try to use it wisely:

https://www.torproject.org/about/overview.html.en
https://tails.boum.org/doc/about/warning/index.en.html

In more detail:

https://www.torproject.org/about/overview.html.en
https://www.torproject.org/docs/faq#AnonymityAndSecurity

Tor is designed to do certain things, and thanks to Edward Snowden, we now know that, at least as of 2012 or so, it does those things well enough to foil the largest and most lethal intelligence agency which has ever existed. Not bad for a tiny nonprofit project with less than a dozen employees.

Tor is by no means the only software which has proven invaluable to bloggers at risk and other people targeted by NSA or competing intelligence agencies. Tails provides not only Tor and a modified Tor browser, but additional tools such as mat (a metadata scrubbing tool, for those publishing an image of a policeman misbehaving, for example) and ssss (Shamir's secret sharing system, a tool for distributing master keys and other critical information among the members of a cooperative).

Everyone who knows anything about computer security knows that in software, true perfection is impossible. (That's a theorem.) Computer security is not a destination to be reached, but a process to be pursued. Anonymity and digital privacy are not goals to achieve, but the almost complete lack of these two things at the dawn of the 21st century are urgent (and sometimes life threatening) dangers to ameliorate.

Multiple hostile agencies are scanning every computer in the world for vulnerabilities and exploiting zero days to suck up whatever they can, following Gen. Alexander's instructions to "collect it all".

The problem we all face is this: the People don't define who the spooks identify as targets: they do, and as we have seen in the most recent disclosures by Greenwald and Gellman, their choices often seem pretty strange.

Perhaps the most important lesson from the Snowden leaks is this: just because you are not doing anything wrong, or even suspected of doing anything wrong, does not mean that you will not come under targeted attack by professional spooks.

These days there is simply no way for any ordinary citizen to tell whether or when they might become a target. Unless they belong to one of the groups, like Muslims, journalists, human rights advocates, telecom engineers, network sysadmins or Tor users, who have already been proven to be targets, not because of anything they are suspected of doing, but because of who they are or what work they do. In which case you know you are under attack and you should exercise the natural right of self-defense of any innocent person who comes under attack by a hostile force.

When you are under attack, you can't stop to complain that the tools you have available to defend your computer and person are imperfect, you must use what you have and get on with defending yourself against the enemy. Using Tor, end-to-end cryptography, CNE-resistant computing systems such as Tails, and other legal countermeasures, would seem to just be common sense.

It's awful but true that thanks to Alexander and Hayden, everyone on Earth is potentially at risk of:

* being spammed by spooks:

WARPATH
Mass delivery of SMS messages to support an Information Operations campaign

* being maliciously manipulated by spooks:

SYLVESTER
Framework for automated interaction/alias management on online social networks.

UNDERPASS
Change outcome of online polls (previously known as NUBILO).

GESTATOR
amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (Youtube).

* being maliciously impersonated by spooks:

CHANGELING
Ability to spoof any email address and send email under that identity.

UNDERPASS
Change outcome of online polls (previously known as NUBILO).

* being MTM'd by spooks:

TORNADO ALLEY
is a delivery method (Excel Spreadsheet) that can silently extract and run an executable on a target's machine.

* having their PC, phone, home router, printer, etc., scanned by spooks:

SILVER SPECTER
Allows batch Nmap scanning over TOR.

* having their private communications copied and stored by spooks:

SODAWATER
A tool for regularly downloading gmail messages and forwarding them on to CERBERUS mailboxes.

* having their encrypted data copied for cryptanalytic attack in case greatly improved techniques later become available to spooks:

VIKING PILLAGE
Distributed network for the automatic collection of encrypted/compressed data from remotelyhosted JTRIG projects.

* having their electronic data stolen by spooks, not because you are suspected of doing anything wrong, but just because you live in the Bahamas or some other country targeted by spooks pursuing their covert goals:

HACIENDA
is a port scanning tool designed to scan an entire country or city. It uses GEOFUSION to identify IP locations. Banners and content are pulled back on certain ports. Content is put into the EARTHLING database, and all other scanned data is sent to GNE and is available through GLOBAL SURGE and Fleximart.

* being malicious misdirected to a lookalike malware-punting website by spooks:

HAVOK
Real-time website cloning technique allowing on-the-fly alterations.

* being sent malware by spooks:

GLASSBACK
Technique of getting a targets IP address by pretending to be a spammer and ringing them. Target does not need to answer.

* having their bank balance monitored (or zeroed) by spooks:

The covert banking link for CPG JTRIG'S MS update farm

* being DOS'd by spooks:

SUNBLOCK
Ability to deny functionality to send/receive email or view material online.

SILENT MOVIE
Targeted denial of service against SSH services.

ANGRY PIRATE
is a tool that will permanently disable a target's account on their computer.

* being cyberstalked by spooks:

TANGLEFOOT
is a bulk search tool which queries a set of online resources. This allows analysts to quickly check the online presence of a target.

FUSEWIRE
Provides 24/7 monitoring of Vbulletin forums for target postings/online activity. Also allows staggered postings to be made.

and having the most personal aspects of their private lives examined by spooks, not for "national security" but just for kicks:

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/07/snowden-nsa-employees-routin…

What the leaks show is that these are things the spooks will do to us if they find that they CAN do those things. But if we take countermeasures, they will find it more difficult to do all or any of those things, and the more citizens who take countermeasures, the more difficult it will be for them to target us all.

So the latest revelations do not provide reasons to despair and give up without a fight. They provide reasons to defend ourselves against hostile attack.

We the People are not the evildoers; the spooks are, whether they work for President Assad, USG, HMG, or CHICOM. We have every right to defend ourselves by using the best tools currently available. Right now those tools include Tor, Tails, PGP/GPG, LUKS encryption, SSSS, SpiderOak, and more are coming soon (not silly things like dubious VPNs but credible tools being built by smart and well-informed researchers).

Anonymous

July 18, 2014

Permalink

Someone snarked:

"Having at least one key spokesman with an appearance that looks like it was groomed to shout, "Look at me! I'm an obnoxious, in-your-face narcissistic degenerate twerp!", doesn't exactly help Tor's image."

If there were really such a crime as felonious twerpitude, John Brennan would be bunking with KSM.

All joking aside, there are very credible allegations of real war crimes for which Brennan could very plausibly be charged at the ICC, and we should work to see that one day he IS charged with these crimes.