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The NSA and GCHQ try very hard to hack, but also help Tor

Tor spies keep the spooks at bay
Tue Aug 26 2014, 11:24
Tor is an attractive target for spy agency bug hunters

SECRETIVE WEB NETWORK Tor apparently is a hot lure for government hackers and an attractive target for US National Security Agency (NSA) and UK Government Communications Head Quarters (GCHQ) spooks.

That is according to Tor, reports the BBC news. The BBC has spoken with Tor Project operations representative Andrew Lewman, who said that while the agencies have their spies, so does the Big Brother-bothering network.

Lehman said that the intelligence agencies have made a number of attempts to break into the system in order to access otherwise hidden websites, communications and illicit behaviour. However, he added that insiders at the agencies - much like Edward Snowden - regularly inform Tor reps about bugs and design issues, and give it the option to build defences.

"There are plenty of people in both organisations who can anonymously leak data to us to say - maybe you should look here, maybe you should look at this to fix this," he said. "And they have."

Lehman could not confirm that intelligence agency insiders had approached Tor, but he suggested that this was likely. Given the anonymising nature of the project, it naturally declines to ask for more information from such informants.

"Obviously we are not going to ask for any details... You have to think about the type of people who would be able to do this and have the expertise and time to read Tor source code from scratch for hours, for weeks, for months, and find and elucidate these super-subtle bugs or other things that they probably don't get to see in most commercial software," he said.

"And the fact that we take a completely anonymous bug report allows them to report to us safely."

State-sanctioned and other attacks on Tor are not new, and Russia has offered a well-publicised bounty for hacking the Tor network.

GCHQ told the INQUIRER that it still does not comment on intelligence matters, a statement that we have seen before.

"It is long-standing policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters. Furthermore, all of GCHQ's work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework, which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight," said a spokesperson.

"All our operational processes rigorously support this position" .µ



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