NSA thinks Tor stinks. While the Tor encryption network is supported by the United States Government and the Defense Department, the NSA and GCHQ has nevertheless been trying to infiltrate its anonymous ranks. It has barely managed to accomplish this task though.
Tor which stands for “The Onion Router” is a cool way of remaining incognito while online. It is a tool used by journalists, dissidents and activists. Unfortunately the anonymity it affords the right elements sometimes also benefits the mutineers on deck. Many terrorists, child pornography distributors and drug dealers cash in on the secrecy this site lends them. That is why the government is starting to pry into the activities occurring on this website.
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Both the American NSA and the British GCHQ have tried infiltrating into the network. Much to their chagrin they have been unable to achieve this monumental task. Except for a handful of individuals, the rest remain anonymous and hence safe from the clutches of these government agencies.
The governmental efforts bore little in the way of fruit. That is why one top secret document even goes to the extent of claiming that “Tor Stinks”. Edward Snowden’s whistle blowing activities have revealed the inconsistencies in the government’s own policies. While it is the government which funded Tor, now it is employing its agencies to infiltrate it. The NSA’s surveillance efforts however are very much micromanaged down to the last details. That is why there are fears that it may be able to reveal many users’ identities via its spying senses.
If the NSA is able to infect a user’s computer than the whole procedure of information gathering becomes a cinch. The fact that a government agency has such extreme powers of spying on virtually the whole globe is cause for concern among every person who leaves a cyber footprint online.
The Guardian has posted the full document of the NSA's top-secret presentation titled “Tor Stinks.” It says, “We will never be able to de-anonymize all Tor users all the time' but 'with manual analysis we can de-anonymize a very small fraction of Tor users.”
But Tor has posted a statement in response to the Guardian article. Tor officially states on its blog, "The good news is that they went for a browser exploit, meaning there's no indication they can break the Tor protocol or do traffic analysis on the Tor network. Infecting the laptop, phone, or desktop is still the easiest way to learn about the human behind the keyboard.
Tor still helps here: you can target individuals with browser exploits, but if you attack too many users, somebody's going to notice. So even if the NSA aims to surveil everyone, everywhere, they have to be a lot more selective about which Tor users they spy on.
Just using Tor isn't enough to keep you safe in all cases. Browser exploits, large-scale surveillance, and general user security are all challenging topics for the average internet user. These attacks make it clear that we, the broader internet community, need to keep working on better security for browsers and other internet-facing applications."