“Tor at the Heart”
During the month of December, we’re highlighting other organizations and projects that rely on Tor, build on Tor, or are accomplishing their missions better because Tor exists. Check out our blog each day to learn about our fellow travelers. And please support the Tor Project! We’re at the heart of Internet freedom.
Is Whonix going to get a write-up? Do we need to submit something to Steele?
My general impression is that the Tor Project is pretty dismissive of Whonix’s efforts, despite the fact that the majority of the normal Tor Browser population is running their ‘anonymous’ session on top of Winblows i.e. are only one exploit away from complete de-anonymization and pwning.
I think it is a major oversight for the devs there to not recommend users instead try a split virtualization solution under the circumstances (ongoing and prevelant hacks of Tor users), nor highlight things like Qubes-Whonix.
I know they want to keep their numbers up and appeal to less technical users, but it is still negligent.
It is at times like this I like to don my tinfoil hat, and revisit infamous quotes from Roger Dingledine like:
“The United States government can’t simply run an anonymity system for everybody and then use it themselves only. Because then every time a connection came from it people would say, “Oh, it’s another CIA agent.” If those are the only people using the network.”
“on today’s network, clients choose one of the fastest 5 exit relays around 25-30% of the time, and 80% of their choices come from a pool of 40-50 relays.”
“This choice goes back to the original discussion that Mike Perry and I were wrestling with a few years ago… if we want to end up with a fast safe network, do we get there by having a slow safe network and hoping it’ll get faster, or by having a fast less-safe network and hoping it’ll get safer? We opted for the “if we don’t stay relevant to the world, Tor will never grow enough” route.”
- We already know that users of Tor are singled out for full-take surveillance by the NSA, based on Snowden disclosures (arguable honeypot status);
- We know the US Navy open-sourced the Tor code to the public in 2004;
- We don’t see the US government pulling funding for Tor, despite financial records showing the vast majority of funding comes from them. The obvious conclusion is that they need the normal traffic of the public to help cloak their intelligence and military field agents;
- Mathewson and Dingledine were on the Pentagon payroll for three years, and the federal payroll for at least another seven years;
- The history of Tor Project grants show significant contributions from the DoD, Pentagon, CIA spinoffs, the State Department etc;
- The NSA doesn’t actually think “Tor Stinks”. They love it, because it concentrates potential targets into one location. From their own slides: “Critical mass of targets use Tor. Scaring them away from Tor might be counterproductive. We can increase our success rate and provide more client IPs for individual Tor users. Will never get 100% but we don’t need to provide true IPs for every target every time they use Tor”;
- Running fast and stable nodes is expensive, but absolutely no obstacle if you are a well-funded intelligence agency; and
- Dingledine and Perry have already decided to sacrifice security for speed (thus the default to a low-latency network). Network padding is persistently ‘on the horizon’ and has been for years, even though this would go some way to defeating end-end correlational analysis which is Tor’s major weak spot.
Perhaps “Tor at the Heart” should instead be highlighting the stirling job normal users are doing to help the military-intelligence complex accomplish their missions instead… /sarc off
On a serious note, I don’t think Whonix can recommend any truly high-value targets e.g. whistleblowers, use Whonix or Qubes-Whonix. Immovable targets generating an obvious Tor signature from their home or business address are easily hacked by a motivated adversary.
The Tor metrics show the Tor population is sufficiently small that it would be worth their while to hack every single instance of an IP where Tor traffic was consistently detected at the network level. Even though this is illegal, the intelligence community is emboldened, because they have not been held accountable for any of their dragnet surveillance and hacking to date.
Simply put, we have morphed into a global police state and the old rules no longer apply.
Whistleblowers and the like should instead be a moving target. This would comprise using TAILS from constantly changing locations. Ditto communications; the whistleblower should forget obviously encrypted communications which are of great interest and kept forevermore, and instead default to One-Time-Pads and steganography if their life or freedom depends upon it.