Tor, the prominent system for protecting Internet privacy, said yesterday many of its users trying to reach hidden sites might have been identified by government-funded researchers.
In a note on the non-profit's Web site,
Dingledine said it was "likely" the attacking computers, which were removed on 4 July, were operated on behalf of two researchers at the
The pair had been scheduled to speak on identifying Tor users at the Black Hat security conference next month. After Tor developers complained to
Previous reports on the research had already raised alarms among privacy activists. Dingledine went further, warning yesterday that "users who operated or accessed hidden services from early February through 4 July should assume they were affected."
Those navigating to ordinary Web sites should be in the clear.
It remains uncertain how much data the researchers were able to collect and what will happen to that information, which would be of interest to intelligence agencies and law enforcement.
Hidden services include underground drug sites such as the shuttered
Dingledine said the physical locations where the hidden services were housed could have been exposed, although probably not the content on them that was viewed by a visitor.
"Unfortunately, I cannot comment," lead
Defence department spokeswoman
"You have to know what organisation and which individuals inside the
Even if there is an overarching guideline about access to unpublished research, "the general rule may not apply," she added.
Tor is an anonymity tool designed to protect the identity of Internet users by routing traffic through multiple nodes around the world. It is used by human rights activists, criminals and others looking to evade surveillance.
Dingledine advised users to upgrade to the latest version of its software, which addresses the vulnerability that was exploited. He cautioned that attempts to break Tor were likely to continue.
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