If you repeat the same lie, it doesn’t make it more true. Recently, the infamous (and normally awesome</em>) Zed Shaw tweeted this</a>:
“Those of you thinking Tor helps you, remember wikileaks started with scanning Tor, and Tor’s Jacob Applebaum supports them heavily.”</em>
The 2nd part is true, Jacob Appelbaum did support WikiLeaks heavily, and based on his Twitter account still does. In fact, he stood in for Julian Assange when he wasn’t able to come to the United States due to the fact that he would be arrested on the spot and charged with the Espionage Act. However, the first part is not only false, but completely irrelevant.
The way Tor works is that there are entry points (your computer running Tor) and exit nodes. Of course, your computer can be compromised, and that’s a weak spot regardless. However, the only other weak point is the Tor Exit Node. The Tor Exit Node knows your destination and it’s job is to relay the requests to and from the destination back through the Tor circuit. If you encrypt the data going through the Tor circuit, it should be fine, and suprise, suprise, if you are dumb enough to use plaintext, you will get plaintext out</a>. The purpose of Tor is to help protect your privacy and to defend yourself against network surveillance and traffic analysis. It is not a silver bullet, because it is only one tool. There are already other ways</a> to determine someone’s identity and to spy on what they are doing in their browsers, and if you use Tor and then send something with your name and address in it, there’s clearly no point in using Tor.
Part of the way it succeeds is the fact that it has numerous stakeholders. For example, the Tor Project takes funding from the US Naval Research Laboratory</a>. Also, Law Enforcement uses Tor as well, and you have to be completely naive to not believe that the US Government isn’t running a Tor node (or that CSE isn’t running one as well</em>). Finally, the Tor Project takes funding from an Anonymous US NGO. Frankly, I think that it’s sketchy, but I’m certain that they have just as much of an interest to remain private as anyone else.
Finally, I think the timing of the original allegations is pretty suspect. It was around the time that the Next HOPE was happening when there was a bunch of drama with the informant who snitched on Bradley Manning. If you want to read about that drama, I recommend Glenn Greenwald </a>who covers it here in detail here.
In the new year, I plan on spending about $100 on some ATIPs that I don’t expect to get anything back on. One of which will be asking about the use of Tor. Should be fun times!!!