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[tor-talk] Exits: In Crossfire on the Front Lines


Russian Crossfire on the Tor Project

Welcome to the first quarter of 2017. The Ruskies have successfully
completed a major full-scope information operation aimed at installing
the next leader of the free world. And it’s no secret; numerous top
cyber-security firms have placed direct attribution of the attack on
the combined Russian Intelligence Services using the Tor network to
mask their point of origin.

As a shocked and dazed United States regains its consciousness we can
expect to see direct measures to mitigate this breed of cyberattacks
in the near future. This response will lead to increased
surveillance/compromise of Tor network infrastructure and leaves
common Tor users caught in the midst of cyberwarfare.

In today’s cyberwar, Tor exit nodes represent the front line of
battle. At this location it is possible to directly observe attacks,
to launch attacks, and to even gather intelligence. An alarming figure
disclosed by The Intercept’s Micah Lee attributed 40% of the network
addresses used in the Grizzly Steppe campaign are Tor exit nodes. And
this is not a good thing.

The concept of collateral damage does not escape the reality of cyber
warfare. We can expect Tor users to be impacted tremendously as cyber
frontlines are militarized. Those users seeking refuge within the Tor
network can expect to be caught in the crossfire with no end in sight.

The funding and resources that will be used to increase capabilities
with regard to Tor networking will be tremendous.

We can expect massive IDS arrays to capture traffic on the wire or
even as native exit nodes. Additionally we can expect nation-states to
operate a larger proportion of exit nodes as they allow for
significantly enhanced information operation capabilities versus line

We can also expect to see additional research on executing de-cloaking
attacks against both hidden services and end-users. Some of this
research may be done openly and in public but for sure not all of it
will be.

Ultimately the weaponization and militarization of the Tor network by
Russian cyber aggressors will leave a large pool of human refugees
with no home.

It’s 2017. Welcome to the frontlines comrade.
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