Last week a Tor developer claimed that NSA and GCHQ agents have been undermining their respective agencies by helping Tor researchers.
According to the man responsible for all Tor Project’s operations, Andrew Lewman, leaks from inside the two agencies have alerted his team to possible vulnerabilities within Tor, allowing the team to work to improve the security provided by the software.
Tor allows web users to anonymously visit sites on the web, including those referred to as the “dark web”, including online drug marketplace and sites with child abuse imagery frequented by pedophiles. However, this is not the primary concern of the software; rather, Tor is committed to online privacy for all web users and Tor is designed to make tracing of a user’s online activity next to impossible.
When Tor developers are alerted to flaws, they can then work to fix these, and in turn enhance the security that they can offer. Despite these tip offs being anonymous, Lewman was convinced that they had come from inside either the US or UK’s intelligence agencies.
“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.”
But what does this mean if it is true? Can there really be pro-privacy advocates working as spies inside the NSA and GCHQ?
Perhaps two years ago, this would seem unlikely, if not impossible. However, since Edward Snowden revealed the true extent of the NSA’s operations over a year ago, it’s become obvious that even within government agencies, an increasing number of people are becoming unhappy with the seemingly endless personal and human rights being ignored by global intelligence agencies.
Over the summer, it’s been revealed that users of Tor have been targeted by the NSA, giving the two organizations a strange symbiotic relationship. Does this mean that using Tor actually negatively affects your online security? It’s too early to say – but investing in a good no-log VPN like SurfEasy is always a good idea.
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