For years, Tor has been the most popular encryption method for internet users.
Tor wraps your internet connection in a layered proxy. It anonymizes you online and lets you browse the internet free of tracking – and it also lets you visit sites on the deep web.
Understandably, law enforcement agencies around the world have run into problems with Tor. How can you arrest hackers, scammers, and illegal pornographers when they’re protected behind a powerful proxy?
Of course, law enforcement agencies aren’t giving up anytime soon. The NSA and other organizations have repeatedly tried to crack Tor’s encryption – although they’ve had little success.
Now, Russia is entering the fray and is offering a huge reward to anyone who can crack Tor’s encryption.
3.9 million ruble reward
Russia hates anonymizing software. In fact, it has repeatedly tried to ban anonymizing software.
Finally, instead of outright banning anonymizing software, Russia appears to have taken a different approach: launching a Tor-cracking contest.
Here’s how the contest works:
-Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs posted a notice on the government procurement board
-In that notice, the ministry announced it was “seeking proposals for researchers to study the possibility of obtaining technical information about users and equipment on the Tor anonymous network.”
-The competition is open to all Russian citizens and companies. A winner will be chosen on August 13.
-The winner will receive 3.9 million rubles, or about $110,000
Has Tor already been cracked?
Interestingly enough, Tor may not be as secure as its users think. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon were recently scheduled to talk at a Black Hat security conference titled “You Don’t Have to Be the NSA to Break Tor: Deanonymizing Users on a Budget”
That title obviously earned some attention.
Unfortunately, that talk was canceled due to “legal issues”.
According to rumors, the Carnegie Mellon researchers found a weakness in a component of TAILS, which is the virtual operating system used to anonymize Tor users. TAILS is also used with a number of other anonymizing programs.
Russia already forces bloggers with over 3,000 readers to register their identity with the government. If it also cracks Tor, then Russia could launch a frightening war against the freedoms of the internet.