Carnegie Mellon University has been accused of hacking into the Tor network to expose identities of its users and for being paid $1 million by the FBI to perform the hack. Tor is a network that includes a web browser to allow users to enter the Dark web or Deep web. The Dark web is a part of the internet in which users can browse anonymously and access websites that are not found on the normal internet. On the positive side, users’ identities are protected by Tor, but this also means crime can occur anonymously too. Silk Road is a virtual Black Market website (found in the Deep Web) where users can purchase weapons, drugs and other illegal things anonymously.
When members of Carnegie Mellon University supposedly hacked into Tor, identities of criminals were exposed but also innocent people too.
Devin Coldeway from NBC NEWS reported the following:
“The accusation arose from the Tor Project itself; Tor obfuscates its users’ Internet traffic by passing it along a network of carefully protected computers, and last year it was announced that a number of these ‘relays’ were attempting to decrypt the data they were supposed to merely pass on.
A paper describing a hack like this, by security researchers at CMU’s Software Engineering Institute, was then submitted for presentation at the Black Hat hacking conference but later pulled. Such research is valuable for keeping secure networks on their toes, and sometimes must be carried out without the knowledge of the system to be evaluated — but this attack in particular put actual users’ data at risk of being exposed.
Last week, with new information in hand, Tor accused CMU of carrying out the hack attack as part of a million-dollar contract with the FBI, possibly as part of its investigation of the Silk Road black market on the ‘Dark Web.’ ‘Civil liberties are under attack if law enforcement believes it can circumvent the rules of evidence by outsourcing police work to universities,’ read the Tor Project’s blog post making the accusation.”
Carnegie Mellon and FBI both denied the $1 Million payment, but at least it appears they were ordered by the FBI to do the hack as part of a criminal investigation. Andy Greenberg from Wired reported the following:
“Despite Carnegie Mellon’s rebuttal, the Tor Project isn’t dropping the issue. In response to WIRED’s request for comment, Tor Project spokesperson Kate Krauss writes that it still has ‘many questions about CMU’s new statement.’ Those questions, Krauss writes, include how the FBI might have known what to subpoena from Carnegie Mellon, and whether Carnegie Mellon’s Institutional Review Board approved of its Tor research…”
Tor and the Deep Web are havens for criminals and also innocent people who want privacy. It’s unfortunate that the government seems to do such sneaky things to try and take privacy away from us on the internet; at least they are trying to reduce crime in the process.
If Tor interests you, visit their website where you can download the browser for free and access the Deep Web. https://www.torproject.org/
Here are some YouTube videos that discuss Tor and the Dark Web/Deep Web