Tor is warning its users to prepare for a cyber-attack which may crumble the network in the coming days. This comes after unusual activities were reported in Tor specialized servers over the weekend.
Tor project is warning about a looming cyber-attack probably from law enforcement entities targeting its specialized servers in an attempt to break down the defiant Tor network. In a blog, Tor said there was “an attempt to incapacitate our network in the next few days through the seizure of specialized servers in the network called directory authorities.”
Directory authorities help Tor clients to find addresses of relays on the Tor network, an important ingredient in helping bounce communications around. Tor has assured clients that its network “remain safe to use” adding that the Tor system is “already built to be redundant so that users maintain anonymity even if the network is attacked.”
The onion Router (TOR) conceals the user’s identity by encrypting and distributing communications across several Tor servers. Anyone trying to trace the source, will see traffic from random nodes rather than from the user’s computer. To achieve this Tor users’ need to know the addresses of the Tor relays which are apparently generated from the Directories authorities.
“The Tor network provides a safe haven from surveillance, censorship, and computer network exploitation for millions of people who live in repressive regimes, including human rights activists in countries such as Iran, Syria, and Russia,” says Tor in the blog “Tor is also used by banks, diplomatic officials, and members of law enforcement, bloggers, and many others. Attempts to disable the Tor network would interfere with all of these users, not just ones disliked by the attacker.”
Notably, Tor network is also a safe haven for the bad boys who use the network to conceal their criminal activities. Recently, a dark web operation by FBI took down Silk Road 2.0, an illegal online bazaar, alongside other 400 websites operating under the Tor network. It is therefore not surprising the other Law enforcement agencies might also be targeting Tor.
The first attempt to sabotage Tor network was reported over the weekend by Thomas White, an operator who runs a cluster of Tor exist nodes. White posted a distress message on Tor mailing list, saying he had lost control of his servers after somebody opened the chassis of his servers and inserted a USB drive.
“Having reviewed the last available information of the sensors, the chassis of the servers was opened and an unknown USB device was plugged in only 30-60 seconds before the connection was broken. From experience I know this trend of activity is similar to the protocol of sophisticated law enforcement who carry out a search and seizure of running servers,” wrote White, whose exit nodes have already been blacklisted by Tor.
Tor is urging its users to remain vigilant when browsing, adding that the company will continuously monitor the threat and disseminate information through its official blog and twitter handle @TorProject. “So far all is quiet on the directory authority front, and no news is good news,” reads the Latest update on Tor’s blog.