Torpark

Torpark is a free anonymous web browser. It sounds good:

A group of computer hackers and human rights workers have launched a specially-crafted version of Firefox that claims to give users complete anonymity when they surf the Web.

Dubbed "Torpark" and based on a portable version of Firefox 1.5.0.7, the browser will run from a USB drive, so it leaves no installation tracks on the PC. It protects the user's privacy by encrypting all in- and outbound data, and also anonymizes the connection by passing all data through the TOR network, which masks the true IP address of the machine.

From the website:

Torpark is a program which allows you to surf the internet anonymously. Download Torpark and put it on a USB Flash keychain. Plug it into any internet terminal whether at home, school, work, or in public. Torpark will launch a Tor circuit connection, which creates an encrypted tunnel from your computer indirectly to a Tor exit computer, allowing you to surf the internet anonymously.

More details here.

Posted on September 28, 2006 at 6:51 AM • 82 Comments

Comments

PerfDaveSeptember 28, 2006 7:50 AM

I've not used Torpark, but as one BoingBoing commenter points out, it's not useful if you're running it on an untrusted machine. And if you trust the machine, you should be able to install Tor and Firefox on it directly.

BrianSeptember 28, 2006 7:54 AM

Didn't work for me on a windows machine. I tried it several different times, and only once did it actually load a site....and then only after about 5 min of waiting. not worth it.

oh, and the first version I downloaded I'm glad I installed on a test machine...turns out the file had been compromised with some type of trojan.

PaeniteoSeptember 28, 2006 8:15 AM

@PerfDave: I don't think that running it on an untrusted machine really is the point of packaging it in an USB-drive version (although it says so on the page).
It is rather ease-of-use, having the relatively complicated setup of Privoxy/TOR already done and just a doubleclick away. The fact that it can then just as well be put on a USB-drive and launched from there is more like a side-effect.

ZaphodSeptember 28, 2006 8:22 AM

@PerfDave

It's not always the case. I trust my work laptop - I'm not allowed to install any software on it. I also trust computers belonging to (most!) friends....I am not about to install software if I happen to be visiting and require this sort of thing.

Zaphod.

Josh RubinSeptember 28, 2006 8:28 AM

The official Torpark website says the program is the work of one dedicated student, but boingboing says it is the work of Hacktivismo and other activists. Not sure which is correct.

However, the program is open source so the authorship may not be that important.

Erik V. OlsonSeptember 28, 2006 8:29 AM

Perfdave nails it. Plugging this key into J Random System isn't going to ensure a secure connection, and if the bad guys are real bastards, it'll just get the code on the key compromised as well.

If they get physical access and time, they own the box. Never, ever, ever, ever use an untrusted box for secure data. Never, ever, ever trust a product that claims you can do so safely.

John DaviesSeptember 28, 2006 8:41 AM

Doesn't the anonymity rely on the Tor exit computers, which are not under your control and could be doing all sorts of dodgy things? ( wittingly or unwittingly )

Chase VentersSeptember 28, 2006 8:42 AM

A better (but still not perfect) strategy would be to put Torpark on a Knoppix Linux distribution and put that on the USB flash-drive.

KerubSeptember 28, 2006 8:48 AM

- ahhhh... - said the first NSA officer.
- this anonimity wave help us a lot. - continued.
- so few proxy servers to be monitored, now... - said the second officer.

- that wasn't a bad idea to start tall these get-anonymous services around the glob, was it? -

Tor userSeptember 28, 2006 8:56 AM

It is interesting to note that at least one of the authors of Tor itself has security concerns with the implementation of Torpark and believes it may not actually provide quite it what it promises.

The fact that the source code for Torpark was just released to the public for the first time with this release should hopefully allow folks to do some auditing of it though. (Previous Torpark limited releases were binary only.)

TimSeptember 28, 2006 9:02 AM

Uh. Why worry about security ? Anyone source that says they are secure has probably sold out to the NSA in some way...Here's my tip for internet security.

Don't look for crap that can get you into trouble !

Trust me, NSA have machines that run on jello. These guys are serious. And if there is any so called "safe" countermeasure to viewing the internet, I trust the NSA have already found a way to crack it and monitor it. Open source is such a joke.

SencerSeptember 28, 2006 9:09 AM

Kerub, you are embarassing yourself, read up on Onion-Routing and TOR, befor mking uninformed comments.

@John Davies:
> Doesn't the anonymity rely on the Tor exit
> computers, which are not under your control
> and could be doing all sorts of dodgy things?

Take a look at their FAQ. Tor is not designed to solve every imaginable privacy problem. Those that it claims to solve however it solves well. While clear-text data can be sniffed on the exit node, TOR sufficiently well hides the origin of the requests (their FAQ describes the kinds of attacks that are still possible).

PaeniteoSeptember 28, 2006 9:16 AM

@Sencer:

Yes, clear-text data can be monitored and manipulated by TOR exit routers. But the same thing is true for every router on the path between your machine and the target host.

So, the obvious point is: Use TOR for what it is meant to be used (hide who is talking to whom instead of what ppl are talking about) and use the appropriate technology to protect the content of the communication (SSL, anyone?).

RobSeptember 28, 2006 9:30 AM

I'd really like more insight from Bruce on the concerns raised in the comments ... no offense, but I don't know the credentials of any of you guys. Bruce I trust.

Bruce, if you read this, would you mind responding to some of these questions?

security_guySeptember 28, 2006 10:06 AM

I have played with torpark a bit and from a user perspective it is nice, especially for the guys in China who have to worry about content filters. The bad part is for corporate security. Because the traffic is encrypted from the browser to the exit of the tor network, it bypasses all content filters. The traffic is really hard to block at the border of the corporate network, because it looks like legitimate traffic, but the end IP address and all traffic is obfuscated. So if you want to download content or view web pages that would be blocked by your corporate firewall, just fire this baby up, which does not require admin privileges or anything and you have full, unrestricted, unmonitored access to the internet. Like I said, great for the poor Chinese dissidents, but crapy for the corporate security admin.

Anonymous VIISeptember 28, 2006 10:18 AM

My understanding is that there are some theoretical weaknesses in the TOR system that might permit well resourced spooks to monitor your traffic but for most of us, this is not really a serious worry.

At the minute, TOR looks like the best attempt at real web security. Anybody know anything better?

If you want to read your webmail from a coffee shop Wifi AP, then Torpark seems like a pretty good idea because your web traffic is SSL encrypted rather than plain text.

MyselfSeptember 28, 2006 10:26 AM

While I appreciate the anonymity from government prying eyes, does this not also offer the 'bad guys' an opportunity to by anonymous? The kiddie porn dealers, the 'evil hackers' and any number of other spurious activity evil doers?? We walk a fine line between freedom of speech and enabling reprehensible activities or making it easier for illegal activities to continue.

BearSeptember 28, 2006 10:33 AM

Wouldn't TOR and any other site providing the anonomyzation (is that a word?) of surfing be responsible to provided records to the authorities the same as other service providers?

SafetySeptember 28, 2006 10:41 AM

@Tim:
> And if there is any so called "safe" countermeasure to viewing the internet, I trust the NSA have already found a way to crack it and monitor it. Open source is such a joke.

With open source, you can know it's unsafe(*). With closed source, you can't(**). That's the fundamental difference. It seems foolish to choose software that you can't discover problems in, in the vain hope that the same applies to your opponents (in your example, the NSA).

(*) ...relatively trivially, and fix the problem when you find it
(**) ...at least, not without relatively huge effort, and you certainly can't fix it when it's found.

PaeniteoSeptember 28, 2006 10:48 AM

@Bear: Yes, operators of TOR servers have to hand over any and all information logged by their machines if they face a subpoena or the like.
Only... TOR servers do not keep logs in the first place so there is not much to hand over.
The authorities would have to force a server operator to enable logging *in advance*, which should be rather difficult, aside from probably legal barriers.
Furthermore, chances are that at least one server in every chain is in an area with not so easily reachable jurisdiction.

McGavinSeptember 28, 2006 10:50 AM

"While I appreciate the anonymity from government prying eyes, does this not also offer the 'bad guys' an opportunity to by anonymous?"

The tradeoff of all technology is that everybody can use it.
Should we ban guns? How about cameras? Cell phones are used by bad guys, too. So are ski masks and black leather gloves.

vwmSeptember 28, 2006 10:54 AM

@Brian & Stefan Wagner
Yes, TOR is relatively slow; that is the price. Remember the traffic has to be routed via some extra proxies, most of them offering very limited bandwidth. It needs some extra time (up to some minutes) at start-up for getting information about the proxies available.

@ Bear
Depends on the legislation of the country in which the proxies are located.

MontagSeptember 28, 2006 11:47 AM

Kerub makes an point that's probably worth following up on. Because TOR servers are NOT the norm, what kind of security trade-off are you getting when you choose to use TOR + encryption to secure your traffic versus just encryption? You do get anonymity, but are you opening yourself up to other risks as a result? When TOR servers are not the average server, is it better to use "security through obscurity" rather than TOR when attackers are more likely to monitor a few TOR servers over many average ones?

Chuck Norris as BruceSeptember 28, 2006 12:09 PM

The sheer quantity of comments perhaps shows a plethora of interest in Tor and related programs. Could someone provide a cryptanalysis summation of Tor? I'm unable to find all of the source for these dlls in torpark as well. Are there steps to recreate torpark from source code?

AnonymousSeptember 28, 2006 12:20 PM

I think there is a lot of misunderstanding about the security that torpark and TOR provides. The traffic is only encrypted to the exit of the TOR network and nothing else. It does not provide security. It does provide anonymity and that is all. Do not use this tool expecting security, that is not the point. It even has a splash screen when you start it saying that it does not provide secure communications and should not be used to transmit sensitive data. All it provides is anonymity and the ability to bypass internet filters. This tool was designed to allow people in China to have unrestricted access to the internet. Don't expect anything else.

Mark J.September 28, 2006 12:26 PM

I'm not sure it would be as useful for "public" PCs. I've set up several publicly accessible PC labs at various universities and have never allowed executables to run from removable media. I would think this would be pretty standard practice for most public PCs, but I've never really bothered to check. Do internet cafes and public libraries allow you to run executables from removable media?

Anonymous SecGuySeptember 28, 2006 12:48 PM

"All it provides is anonymity and the ability to bypass internet filters. This tool was designed to allow people in China to have unrestricted access to the internet. Don't expect anything else."

No, Tor was not designed for this, check the wikipedia log on its' history.

It is actually quite bad for people in countries such as China because it does not hide the fact that users are using the Tor network. (There are numerous, trivial ways to detect if someone is using the Tor network from upstream of the client... nothing more is required then an everyday IDS... their design document notes they do not try to hide the fact that users are using TOR.)

What it does hide is their traffic, end to end. Middle stream, you should not be able to either see where they are going nor what they are viewing (unless you simply own enough of the proxy servers to make sense of that).

Hopefully Tor will see fit to try and hide the fact that users are using Tor so governments and other institutions do not see fit to start creating lists of people who use such applications. Because that simply offers an incredible data mining oppourtunity to such governments as it is.

What is sad, however... is that people don't get this. Really very obvious stuff. They just are so caught up with the hype or their own paranoia... they don't think about such gaping weaknesses.

Anonymous SecGuySeptember 28, 2006 12:54 PM

Oh, I should note: That said about the data mining possibilities Tor gives to governments and corporations -- I still support it and think others should, as well.

However, I hope that they (or someone else) takes care of this problem.

Essentially, Tor isn't a big improvement on the previous proxy networks out there... it is simply what more people use... and it is the people who make such a network useful.

Anonymous SecGuySeptember 28, 2006 12:58 PM

Answering this one from another angle:
"While I appreciate the anonymity from government prying eyes, does this not also offer the 'bad guys' an opportunity to by anonymous?"

Bad guys are easily identifiable and hackable or watchable... governments should be focusing not on sweeping surveillance which includes innocent civilians... but they should learn to hack or learn to use hardware surveillance and target those obvious criminals out there.

Terrorists, Pedophiles and such... they are easy enough to find. They have to recruit. They make their presence known online. The answer for governments is to learn how to hack -- not to learn how to listen to what innocent people are doing or saying.

bearSeptember 28, 2006 1:02 PM

Paeniteo, Vml, thx. I was not thinking that far out of the box. My mind was set in thinking the services would be in North America. Should have thought of that with the number of blips blocked on my firewall that come in from other places.

BrianSeptember 28, 2006 1:28 PM

@Anonymous SecGuy

A gaping weakness to one person is totally irrelevant to someone else. Different people have different needs. Tor is really good at hiding the source of traffic from the destination of the traffic. For some people, that is all that matters. For others, such as Chinese dissidents or people trying to evade a corporate firewall, Tor screams out "suspicious" and is not a good idea.

@Everybody who thinks Tor gets used for child pornography

Tor absolutely *kills* network performance. I seriously doubt anyone is using it to trade any kind of photos or videos.

Anonymous SecGuySeptember 28, 2006 2:06 PM

"A gaping weakness to one person is totally irrelevant to someone else. Different people have different needs. Tor is really good at hiding the source of traffic from the destination of the traffic. For some people, that is all that matters. For others, such as Chinese dissidents or people trying to evade a corporate firewall, Tor screams out "suspicious" and is not a good idea."

Brian, absolutely, and I totally agree that Tor is great for many purposes.

And, I am certain solutions will be provided which make these systems stealth.

Even in China - if they have already implemented detection mechanisms - then Tor still is not enough to get locked up for. So, if you already are public about your anti-Chinese government beliefs... which is common for the Chinese people, historically ('down with Ching, up with Ming')... then you do do very well to use this kind of thing.

Likely, they won't yet adapt this quickly, despite how technical savvy their government has proven to be.

And, hopefully, by the time they do... there will be stealthing solutions for Tor.

mozSeptember 28, 2006 2:37 PM

@brian

The problem with systems that are secure only in limited applications is that users are notoriously bad at understanding which of those applications they actually have. Specifically, the Chinese user has to either understand the security or understand the English and then not use tor to be safe. That doesn't mean that tor isn't a good idea, but it does mean that pushing tor too hard may be a bad idea.

P.S. moz welcomes Moz to Bruce's blog comments section. :-)

JojoSeptember 28, 2006 2:50 PM

Has anyone noticed that when running a USB flash drive, CPU temperature increases by 6-10 degrees C? When I remove the drive, temperature returns to normal. Anyone know why this happens? Polling?

elfspiceSeptember 28, 2006 4:48 PM

as far as i know most public internet access terminals do allow executing programs from removable media. some places don't most notably library catalogue computers, but in general it is possible. it's not that well known amongst windows system admins how to lock down execution of arbitrary executables.

the whole point of tor is simply eliminating the tracability from source to destination in the network traffic. this is important because of many reasons, mostly involving aggressive data mining by hostile groups and individuals. this doesn't just mean your own government. i'd say in china tor is intentionally used by the government to access sites they don't want other governments knowing they are accessing, for example.

despite what paranoid nonsense people spout about anonymity on the internet, there is way too many people (ie, 99% of the population) who need it. the internet is an open field, you can't be certain who is listening on any given point in the route between you and another. eventually some nasty large criminal group or terrorist organisation is going to use data mining to pick its targets and this will get known and all of a sudden it won't just be an issue for security freaks.

BrianSeptember 28, 2006 5:22 PM

"The problem with systems that are secure only in limited applications is that users are notoriously bad at understanding which of those applications they actually have."

Tru dat!

RalphSeptember 28, 2006 6:38 PM

There is some basis to suspect that this kind of thing will not make your use of and browsing completely anonymous.

I'd like to see if the paging file on a windows PC might still have details of your activity on the local hard drive even if the browser cache was on your USB drive.

JojoSeptember 28, 2006 6:45 PM

"I'd like to see if the paging file on a windows PC might still have details of your activity on the local hard drive even if the browser cache was on your USB drive."
==================

It probably would unless you allocated a primary page file on the removal device (which I think would be pretty slow). And you would have to reboot to do this.

RealistSeptember 28, 2006 7:20 PM

TOR and TORPARK may provide some protection as to what is being surfed, but they fail the inference tests. The products are easily detected while executing, and leave interesting footprints all over firewall logs -- made good use of those characteristics today to nail an internal user for some nasty stuff.

ThepenguinSeptember 28, 2006 10:41 PM

@Brian, thats a false postitave that keeps popping up, allow me to assure you that Torpark contains NO trojan horses whatsoever, if it does, ill eat my shoes

AnonSeptember 28, 2006 11:22 PM

@ Brian

"Tor absolutely *kills* network performance. I seriously doubt anyone is using it to trade any kind of photos or videos."

You're wrong. For instance, http://anegvjpd77xuxo45.onion/pe/ points to a tor hidden service that provides (adult) pornography.

If there are people willing to wait on tor to provide material for which they aren't likely to need anonymity, I think that those with more motivation to be anonymous would likely be willing to wait as well.

One of the problems (features?) of most anonymous networks is that indexing and searching are hard. You can never really be sure what is available until you find it, and you can't ever be sure that something isn't available.

J.September 29, 2006 1:21 AM

"Essentially, Tor isn't a big improvement on the previous proxy networks out there... it is simply what more people use... and it is the people who make such a network useful."

It is. It is however not perfect and has disadvantages. I'm not sure where you get your statistics from and then again, they're just statistics.

Differences:
1) APs (anonymous proxies) are only anonymous to the website owner as it hides the IP. TOR is anonymous until the end node.
2) Hence, to sniff the data of users, all nodes a user uses (which are random) need to be backdoored. TOR nodes exist worldwide though. In an AP service you only need to arrange that w/the AP service. If its operating from US or EU such is peanuts as seen with JAP and various other AP services.
3) APs often don't use any encryption whatsoever. TOR does.
4) TOR makes profiling and data mining harder (though not impossible).
5) AP services sell something either backdoored or sell snake oil. TOR is free as in speech, free as in beer, and slower than an AP.

Consider you are a whistleblower who likes to remain anonymous. You have credible sources but fear for your life if you publish. Your government, for example. Therefore, you'd like to remain nomen nescio for the time being. Would you pick an AP being anonymous for the website owner, or TOR, being considerably harder to track if not impossible right now? Your website owner is not part of the group who wants you dead the latter whom are, in this example, your government. Now, say you are residing in North Korea hence falling under North Korean jurisdiction and assume the NSA can sniff TOR. Do you think the NSA will collaborate with the government of North Korea to find you so the North Korean government is able to deliver your body in pieces to your wife? I don't think so. The point here being made is that one who uses TOR should realize who they are hiding from and who would collaborate w/them to find you.

The fact someone uses TOR or runs a TOR service does not mean they are doing illegal things. It does however mean that they are not trusting certain people (usually humans with a penis, grey hair, and a tie) to view certain traffic and/or allow others who have that view to provide them a secure platform. So the fact a person residing in China runs TOR or uses encryption means they hide something however that alone is not a reason to raid someone. It should mean though that you should realize that such may trigger a raid. Don't break the law (however sick the law may be) and you're safe. Your right to use TOR, you have, for now. So in the whistleblower example above the publisher should keep their information encrypted (I don't believe steganography works well enough but Truecrypt provides such), or never have saved a copy of it on swap or HDD. One of the attacks existing then which ought to be considered still, is profiling.

TOR is like a Freenet-bridge to the Real World. For publishing, assuming I had the need to remain anonymous and had to choose, I'd pick Freenet. As others said, together with WiFi its very useful although lately there was some news on fingerprinting of WiFi signals. In such case, destroying your WiFi card in a sophisticated ritual should be suffice (and such is far, far worth the price for life in the case of a whistleblower).

I am wondering if there are possibilities to fingerprint on different aspects than an IP address and how TOR deals with such. Such, if possible, could also aid profiling. I'm referring to the traffic after the end node. Does anyone have a reference paper to such?

Anonymous SecGuySeptember 29, 2006 3:25 AM

BTW, I forgot to point out Tor addresses a recent pedophile bust on their front page right now. So, that is not theoretical, though I do believe Brian has a point about slow traffic.

The truth is that policing of the internet for internet pedophiles and hard core militants is very poorly done. It remains a virtual wild west out there. Often even when they are scoped out they are not investigated.

Much of the worst stuff out there is not underground at all. They don't need to be underground. Nobody is doing anything about them. A high profile bust here, a high profile bust there... and a lot of low level surveillance.

People talk about organizations like the NSA as if they were gods. They are mathematicians, hardly even spies. It is a far cry distance from being a mathematician to being a spy.

Elfspice (?) wrote:
"eventually some nasty large criminal group or terrorist organisation is going to use data mining to pick its targets and this will get known and all of a sudden it won't just be an issue for security freaks."


I think you are going somewhere with that, but not sure where. Regardless, for Islamist terrorists they tend to pick emotional targets currently for the US. They like to strike at the underlying infrastructure in a way that damages national confidence. I doubt Tor would aid them there.

Recruitment is the big issue for militant, malicious groups... and the internet is full of such recruitment. That is the most dangerous stuff right there.

Few of these guys are entirely off the radar... and those who are off the radar, ie, not publically visible in recruitment activities... are generally connected to those who are. But, the only way governments can get at these networks is through hacking. IMO.

We did not adapt during the 90s, we barely made it past the 60s... and I do not foresee much positive adaptation here on the internet. We think and operate too slowly.

AlexSeptember 29, 2006 10:23 AM

General question about browsers and internet.

If I log onto my Windows or Mac box with my id "User1", does "User1" id/info get transmitted to sites I visit so they can keep it?

I use Mozilla, Firefox, and Safari, and clear the cookies when I close it.

I use TOR, Metropipe, and Proxyvibe when I browse.

Thanks.

AlanSeptember 29, 2006 2:09 PM

Tor does not provide perfect anonymity.

1) A warrant to search the last Tor server in the chain might yield the upstream Tor server. Another warrant to search that one may yield the next one, etc.

2) A government or other agency might inject a bunch of Tor servers into the network. That could lower the bar to tracking activity.

3) Tor services are not exactly secrets. A savvy opponent might know where they all are. Imagine an opponent who can observe the packets flowing into and out of each of them. Any packets coming from a non-Tor server represent a Tor user. Any packets leaving a Tor server destined for a non-Tor server identify a target. Timing analysis might correlate the packets entering the Tor network with those leaving it, yielding the location of the browser and of his destination. And remember, the last Tor server does not encrypt the data to and from the destination server.

JohnTSeptember 29, 2006 2:35 PM

I've not used torpark, but I do use tor here. Yes, it dows slow things down, but it is possible to use it only for those connections for which you feel the additional security is important (c.f. the "switchproxy" extension for Firefox). I agree that using torpark from a USB stick on an untrusted machine would still leave you vulvernable to e.g. keystroke loggers and such, and that if you're using a trusted machine why not just use tor itself?

Perhaps my understanding of tor is deficient, but IIRC tor traffic between the routers is encrypted, so there is no cleartext to monitor or manipulate except at the exit nodes. If you control one of these (your local tor proxy through which you connect to the swarm), then that leaves only one, randomly selected exit node to be concerned about. Not perfect, but pretty close and certainly better than nothing at all for many people.

Anonymous SecGuySeptember 29, 2006 2:55 PM

Whatever wrote:
"Anyone who believes TOR is anything other than a toy to play secret agent with should take a long hard look at Torment:

http://metasploit.com/svn/torment/trunk/
"

From some Tor page:
"Torment is a windows GUI for Tor, written in Delphi and provided with full source but no longer maintained."

Which means... nothing... I see some ruby, perl source, whatever. Thanks for the false accusation... it did nothing here.

JohnTSeptember 29, 2006 3:02 PM

JohnT:
"Perhaps my understanding of tor is deficient, but IIRC tor traffic between the routers is encrypted, so there is no cleartext to monitor or manipulate except at the exit nodes. If you control one of these (your local tor proxy through which you connect to the swarm), then that leaves only one, randomly selected exit node to be concerned about. Not perfect, but pretty close and certainly better than nothing at all for many people. "


Yep, you are absolutely right. I have a criticism or two, but it is important to have correct criticisms... at least two guys has made Tor traffic to be readable or crackable -- that is not true.

All that is true is that Tor does not try to hide the fact that you are actually connected to a Tor network.

That is what that is.

If someone can crack Tor -- let's see proof. Theory is fine, but hearsay theory is worse then nothing.

Under "Non-Goals" in their design doc:
"Tor does not try to conceal who is
connected to the network."

http://tor.eff.org/svn/trunk/doc/design-paper/tor-design.pdf

So, this is by design.

Someone said something about wearing a black mask downtown anonymity... that it what it is like. Versus, say the inconspicuous anonymity of Joe Smith, postal worker in Smalltown, Delaware. Or whatever.


Anonymous SecGuySeptember 29, 2006 3:07 PM

Alan Wrote:
"Tor does not provide perfect anonymity.

1) A warrant to search the last Tor server in the chain might yield the upstream Tor server. Another warrant to search that one may yield the next one, etc.

2) A government or other agency might inject a bunch of Tor servers into the network. That could lower the bar to tracking activity.

3) Tor services are not exactly secrets.
"


Alan is right as well. I should actually add, though these attacks I do not see as high of a priority as you can do the same sort of thing with mixmaster relays.

It is far easier for a snooper to simply hack the suspect or put a hardware tap on their system then to bother with such matters... though, I think point three I had not thought of and is very good... because Tor does not try to hide itself you can map out the various servers and the traffic to and from them... though the distributed handling of the packets should still provide some layer of protection there.

There are, however, a number of bars here... more traffic would make it safer, less traffic would make it less safe. For instance. A good general rule of thumb.

AnonymousSeptember 29, 2006 3:11 PM

Alex wrote:
"General question about browsers and internet.

If I log onto my Windows or Mac box with my id "User1", does "User1" id/info get transmitted to sites I visit so they can keep it?

I use Mozilla, Firefox, and Safari, and clear the cookies when I close it.

I use TOR, Metropipe, and Proxyvibe when I browse.

Thanks."

Alex, you are safe from that kind of snooping using something like Tor... and cleaning out your cookies (for instance).

In regular browsing sites will have your IP address from which they can get your general area and the ISP you use. Unless you have registered your IP address.

Some ad systems which are across domains will have a consolidated cookie tracking system, eg, you do something at site x, they tie that to your IP... you go to site y, do something, they are there too, though the banner ad or whatever... and they tie that to you from there.

They can then tie whatever you did at these sites together.

Torpark makes that problem go away, however... and I have never seen a malicious case of this kind of attack -- unless you call ad targetting "malicious".


Anon SecGuySeptember 29, 2006 4:04 PM

Safety wrote:
"With open source, you can know it's unsafe(*). With closed source, you can't(**). That's the fundamental difference. It seems foolish to choose software that you can't discover problems in, in the vain hope that the same applies to your opponents (in your example, the NSA).

(*) ...relatively trivially, and fix the problem when you find it
(**) ...at least, not without relatively huge effort, and you certainly can't fix it when it's found."

Guys, please do not believe this. It is a bit easier to do security audits on code where you have the full source, but it is not that significant. I speak from experience.

It really does not make that much of a difference.

Believe me, I could put a backdoor in code you could not find. Want proof? Go find some security bugs. Go look over security bugs found. Now imagine how someone could have written those into the application intentionally. It really is not so hard to do that kind of thing.

And if everyone is so great at security auditing... how come they can't find any of these bugs?

Who really looks over their code? Anyone? Let me tell you something... you have to have a lot of experience to be good at security auditing... and if you are you can do it from source or binary.

Source is a bit easier... but what does that matter to laypeople? Nothing. They do not look... and even if they did, they wouldn't know what to look for.

Is it better if a source is examined by lotsa people? No.

No, because the one guy who might be able to find something might be the one guy who wants his own little backdoor.


JoeSeptember 30, 2006 3:18 PM

Okay, I've just got to comment on this one...

Guys and girls,

Onion routing and all of the associated security issues & topics run pretty deep. There has been a LOT of excellent research done in this area, and a LOT of very thorough analysis by some very smart and talented people. I'm seeing questions being posted left and right about common misunderstandings and points of confusion about Tor and onion routing in general. So, if you care to learn about this stuff, a good place to start would be by reading through the documentation on the Tor site & joining the Or-talk mailing list available there. Furthermore, read some of the academic papers written by Tor's authors, Roger, Nick, and Paul. Tor is taking on some huge and difficult challenges, but it is not doing it just willy-nilly. There has been so much proper work done here. Please go educate yourselves before jumping to conclusions about things that may not be intuitive to you at first.

Thank you.

PeteOctober 2, 2006 6:38 AM

@Joe
"... there has been a LOT of excellent research done in this area ..."

Couldn't agree more. Many of the issues discussed in this blog entry have been covered extremely well in a couple of the papers on anonymity at the WEIS conference in June - see "The Economics of Mass Surveillance and the Questionable Value of Anonymous Communications", and "Anonymity Loves Company: Usability and the Network Effect".

Both at http://weis2006.econinfosec.org/prog.html

HTRegzOctober 3, 2006 7:44 AM

Torpark is a nifty little tool... I don't want to spam your blogs too much (since last time you were gracious enough to link to me in your article which generated mega hits to my page) but check out http://www.computerdefense.org/?p=26. The comment especially gives a great rundown on TorPark (it's dated now... from Feb.. but still provides decent information).

RonOctober 8, 2006 10:15 PM

I have used torpark with mixed results. it frequently crashes zone alarm. Today I got a warning from zone alarm saying that torpark wanted to send email messages. When I denied permission torpark went away. Any program that wants to send email messages from my pc sounds awful suspicious (think spyware).

Ron

jeffjgaleOctober 9, 2006 1:07 AM

I've read all these posts with interest, but none of you here have thought from the other side of the coin. There are many in countries that do not have free speech etc,
Many would be Christians can view Christian sites without being found out using this browser, the more that become Christian the less to be t.....
Thanks for letting me speak. Jeff

The-NaviGatorOctober 12, 2006 3:34 AM

@jeffjgale

When has N.A.M.B.L.A. ever been considered a Christian site?
(Tom Foley is innocent. Clinton set him up.)
P.S.
If you vote republican this election, you are voting for the Devil.(God told me so).
I'm a Baptist, so it's the truth.

bvoltOctober 20, 2006 11:24 PM

Using torpark about 2 weeks now. Takes long time to load. Only seems to ever have 5 ip addresses it cycles through. Where's the network? Anywho, I'm tired of it cause cl blocked those ip addresses from flagging so got no more use of it.

CheeseWhizzOctober 21, 2006 2:25 PM

As close as I can get to a probability of Johnny NSA_Agent getting both the entrance and exit nodes for your connection and finding your IP by plaintext analysis (Given that node choice is completely random):

x nodes in network .
y compromised nodes.
z nodes per circuit.
1 node must be compromised per circuit.
Nodes 1 or z must be compromised.
1 and z are mutually exclusive.

= N


For second compromised node.

x - 1 Nodes in network.
y - 1 Compromised nodes.
z - 1 Nodes per connection.
1 node must be compromised.
Nodes 1 or z - 1 must be compromised.
Compromised node must not equal N.


Anyone do the formula for / correct and elaborate on that? It's as close as I can get it as i'm thinking, but I have difficulty with equations!

PLamaOctober 22, 2006 12:20 PM

Is topark a trojan app? Allegations on the torpark forums http://www.torrify.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=311 match Rons experience that torpark phones home. No respone yet from the site admin or torpark creators. Now i have to refrain from using torpark. I was uneasy using the new release when it was announced by hacktivismo. I dont know these guys. My paranoia is kicking in.

DJOctober 23, 2006 2:29 PM

Attackers running malicious TOR exit nodes can replace or augment the content that you see (think iframes). This can:
- send you to a different website than the one you thought you were visiting
- inject content around a site
- present zero-day exploits to your browser

Here's a new paper presenting this research and real-world implementation.

http://www.packetstormsecurity.org/0610-advisories/Practical_Onion_Hacking.pdf

Basically, with TOR, you are trusting all of the exit node operators.... without knowing anything about them.


Joseph T.November 8, 2006 8:22 AM

Just today when I started Torpark it tried to send email and luckily my firewall caught it.

Why is Torpark trying to (secretly?) send email? Who is it sending it to and what is it sending? This really has me wondering whether Torpark can be trusted.

In a previous post Ron noticed this same behaviour.

DJNovember 24, 2006 9:34 AM

From someone in China: Great idea but it is far too slow - even on a fast DSL connection. I would rather live with the great bamboo curtain than try and surf with this software from here. Thanks for trying anyways.

yakJanuary 27, 2007 6:51 AM

If I have a website that has banned me for differing political commnets and i want to rejoin using a different name.... would this cloak my ip sufficiently? I have done this with an anonymising url - is this as effective?

browserJanuary 27, 2007 11:53 AM

@yak

TOR is (primarily) intended to prevent your ISP or other parties listening in to your internet traffic by using cryptography e.g. encrypting your webmail with TORPark when using WiFi in a coffe shop is a good idea.

The anonymising url is intended to make your IP address appear to be something different from your actually workstation address.

Both will do what you want but TOR will be substantially slower because it requires many network hops between TOR servers. I suggest that the anonymising URL will meet your needs and will be faster as well.

Corp TravelerJanuary 31, 2007 11:32 PM

I travel 100 plus nights a year. I use this program on a thumb using my company issue laptop. I can go where I want and I'm not in their proxy and no info on my pc.

Nothing illegal - just keeping up a tradition I've had since I was about 13. Just like every other guy.

A Part Time Chatter :)November 21, 2007 11:31 AM

I was banned from my usual parachat portal but then I have had recourse to Torpark which made the admin confused about my location :) No need to reset my router, Torpark solves my problem. I can confirm it because I connected to the chat with two different computers - one picking up the usual IP and the other running Torpark. Guess what!!! I could log in the chat with Torpark while the other screen still showing that my IP is rejected :) I yelled "It's alive !!! It's alive !!!"

seanFebruary 14, 2008 2:40 PM

Just say that their is a program such as msn explorer on the computer. If an account has parental controls and can list each site that it was connected to will torpark hid that.

michaelbApril 23, 2008 10:36 AM

I have been banned from posting on a web site, local newspaper. When I come in using another ID, my IP keeps me from posting. Can TOR ... or what other vehicle can I use to bypass my IP from being checked? Thanks.

CuriousCatJanuary 20, 2009 3:27 PM

I tried TorPark a while back and I kept getting pinged every time i used it
so I used my firewall's backtrace feature to discover the pinger. It was a computer in Harvard and it also had a directory with a file in it that contained a list of about 900 tor routers. Most of the other places in this computer would have actually required forcing. I wonderd around in areas that were revealed by google. I don't count using google as hacking bcause google is the one doing it. I would say that this indicates someone is interested in a simple attack for research purposes bare minimum.

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