Russian Company Back Out Its Deal To Crack “Tor”

citizens who use the Internet anonymity network Tor hit a brick wallPlans by the Russian government to unmask its citizens who use the Internet anonymity network Tor seems to have hit a brick wall. This is after reports emerged that the company that had been hired by the Kremlin administration was reported to have hired a law firm to help it back out of the contract to unmask Tor.

The Russian government was willing to part with nearly $60,000 (3.9 million rubles) to have Tor cracked. Tor is a popular tool that is used to communicate anonymously across the internet. Now, it is emerging that the company which won the contract is ready to spend more than twice the amount it was to be paid by the government to abandon the Tor project.

The tender had been earlier won by the Central Research Institute of Economics, Informatics and Control Systems, which is a Moscow branch of Rostec -the state-managed manufacturer of weapons, helicopters and other industrial and military equipment. The company is willing to pay up to 10 million rubles (equivalent to some $150,000) to contract a law firm to negotiate a way out of the contract. This is according to state-purchase disclosures database.

According to leaked government documents, lawyers from Pleshakov, Ushkalov and Partners are working with Russian officials to put an end to Tor research project.

In 2014, the Interior Ministry of Russia posted a contract on its website looking to find a group that would study whether it was possible to obtain technical information not only on users but also on the user’s equipment of the Internet anonymity network Tor. A spokesman for Interior Ministry department which placed the Tor project order declined to give a comment when contacted. Also, the Rostec research group did not comment on the matter.

Tor Logo

This has not gone down well with Russian authorities especially considering that it is not a huge fan of Internet freedom. And it does not help that the use of the Internet anonymity software is growing in popularity within its borders. The Russian government has put in place draconian censorship laws that effectively stifle Internet privacy.

Judging by the latest developments, it appears Tor is very much secure. Although some strides have been made with regard to gleaning information from Tor network, anonymization has not been a complete failure.

It was never going to be easy for any company to unmask Tor. The government of the US, as well as other nations, has spent much more money to sponsor the building of Tor network. In fact, lots of intelligence agencies would part with a lot more just to access data running over the anonymous network.

About Internet Anonymity Network Tor

Tor, which is just an acronym for The Onion Router, is Internet anonymity software which sends the network traffic of each user to various nodes all over the globe. In so doing, it encrypts the data at every layer, thus making it nearly impossible to track. The network has been embraced by political dissidents, criminals and hackers the world over. Edward Snowden, who is an erstwhile U.S. intelligence contractor and currently living in Russia, is a known admirer of Tor. The number of people using the network in Russia has grown by 40% from the start of this year to reach more than 175,000 users. This is according to data provided by Tor project, the developer of the service.

Edward SnowdenUsing the Internet anonymity software makes it much more impossible to track online connectivity back to the user. In other words, web visits, instant messages, online posts as well as other communication forms to untraceable. The use of Tor is meant to users’ personal privacy, as well as their ability and freedom to communicate confidentially by keeping their Internet activities from monitoring. The US National Security Agency characterized Tor as “King of high-secure Internet anonymity.” In fact, the NSA adds that there are no contenders to that throne in waiting. The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology described Tor as the most popular anonymous Internet communication system by miles. It currently has an estimated user population of 2.5 million people daily.

According to the July 2015 NATO analysis, the world should brace itself for the use of Internet anonymity tools such as Tor as they will only continue to thrive.

People use Tor to prevent their websites from being tracked, to connect to news websites or to access instant messaging service when they are blocked by local Internet providers. By using Tor’s hidden tools, users will be able to publish to websites as well as other services without requiring disclosing their sites’ location. People also use the network for socially sensitive communication.These include web forums and chat rooms for survivors of rape and abuse, or for individuals with illnesses.

A Smartphone Designed To Preserve Internet Anonymity

An Australian-based smartphone company, Ncryptcellular, has designed a unique handset which gives users maximum privacy and Internet anonymity when browsing the net. These devices have gained tremendous popularity all around the globe since their launch. They are available in 3 versions which include the Ncrypt Mega ($1465), Ncrypt Super ($1314) and Ncrypt Slim ($1182).

Ncryptcellular
These Android-based gadgets are fitted with unique open-source apps and custom Internet anonymity tools, which allow owners to conceal identity information, encrypt voice and data communications as well as generate forged traffic designed to confuse government metadata breach attempts.

The company’s chief technical officer, Alex Kesik, says that these Internet anonymity smartphones were created as a response to people’s concerns that state agencies could be snooping on their web usage. A marketing campaign seeking official distributors has already been launched, spawning immense response from potential retailers keen on buying the smartphones wholesale and then selling to their native countries.

Ncryptcellular devices
Ncryptcellular devices are increasingly becoming popular amongst business and personal users, most of who want their online activities to remain anonymous. They have cutting-edge security features such as connectivity to the Tor network, and an integrated XMPP app which can also be linked to the onion system. In addition, there’s a Secure Talk, Secure Text and encrypted SMS service that ensures not only your web activities are kept safe but also everyday phone communications.

Furthermore, the Internet anonymity devices contain Anti Listening properties capable of detecting coded IMSI-Catcher surveillance programs, which may have been implemented as proxy Wi-Fi base stations. Ncryptcellular smartphones prevent such security breaches from happening, by determining what type of data each particular app can access. They also contain properties which spoof GPS web locations, allowing owners to alter their GPS details so as to confound any attempts towards hacking.

Though this software may be allowed to operate on other smartphone brands in the future, as for now they are only available on Oppo units which were selected because of their sleek design and comprehensive manufacturer warranty.

Virtual Invisibility Of The Darknet

The popular phrase “the internet never forgets”, as simple as it sounds, has some long lasting effects on its users. Tracking and information security (or lack thereof) are some of the main reasons why the public in general are paranoid about using the internet. This brought about the Darknet, an Internet anonymity channel that can be used on specific networks, protocols and servers to protect the user while browsing the web. It can be done through peer-to-peer networks or through services such as Tor. Whatever the case, it has its positive and negative sides.

Hacker

1. It can be used for hacking. This then means that there are people with the ability to compromise another party’s security while trying to protect their own.

2. It has been used in regions with political strife and for activism. Many other countries have opted to restrict access to the internet for political reasons. This then makes Darknet both a positive and negative thing. Positive in that the masses can still share information with the rest of the world and negative in that Internet anonymity can be used for spreading propaganda and hate speech.

3. It is perfect for file sharing. It is usually illegal to file share unless the content is either paid for or approved by the author. Therefore, people choose to share files via Darknet to avoid detection and legal repercussions.

The most popular Darknet software to date is Tor. It is an application that is downloaded to a PC and is used to bypass regular servers. The user can then browse the web freely without fear of detection thanks to this proxy server. Others include the Invisible Internet Project (I2P), Freenet, GNUnet, OneSwarm and Tribler among others. Freenet and Oneswarm are the more popular peer-to-peer software that enable file sharing, as long as discovery features are turned off on the machines in use.

incognito browserInternet anonymity has gained so much ground in the world that popular browsers Firefox and Google Chrome have an “incognito” browser. This lets you freely browse the internet without fear of detection, as long as it is not used on a communal network. The Darknet has gained popularity on both sides of the coin but it is up to the end user to take advantage of this Internet anonymity for positive actions.

Experts Disagree Gov.’s Proposals For Encryption Access

A group of computer security experts have come out in opposition to demands by the US and the UK governments to be granted special access to encrypted communications. The move, the experts argue, would put the most confidential data and infrastructure at risk.

National Security Agency

The 14 elite cryptographers and computer scientists from around the globe have a formidable influence in the ensuing debate between the law enforcers pushing for less Internet anonymity and advocates of online privacy. Encryption has come to the fore following Edward J. Snowden’s disclosures that government spying was at a record high. The fact that data is being put online at previously unseen speeds has helped to fan the already heated debate on Internet anonymity.

Naturally, technology companies have been dragged into this face off. Companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Google have increased their efforts to encrypt corporate and customer data since becoming aware that the NSA and other government agencies have been hacking into information centers and intercepting digital communications.

Commercial encryption efforts, law enforcers argue, sabotage their attempts to monitor crime. The UK prime minister even threatened to ban the use of encrypted messages completely. The NSA director, Michael S. Rogers, has suggested that technology companies develop digital keys that can be used to circumvent Internet anonymity and offer access to encrypted data. However, such a key would be shared among different people so that no one person could have full access to the information.

The debate on Internet anonymity is still a long way from an amicable resolution. The timing of the report by the elite group of experts was, for instance, quite opportunistic. The report was released just a day before FBI director James B. Comey Jr., and deputy attorney general at the Justice Department, Sally Quillian Yates were to testify at the Senate Judiciary Committee against the use of encryption technologies that provide the ironclad Internet anonymity that prevents the government from doing its job efficiently.

The report by the technologists is the first of its kind. In the report, the experts claim that by granting the government access to encrypted information, important infrastructure such as the banking system and the power grid would be seriously compromised. Some of the big names behind the report include Whitfield Diffie, considered a pioneering influence in public key cryptography, and Ronald L. Rivest, one of the forces behind the RSA public cryptography algorithm.

The level of trust the government would need to be granted what they need would be unimaginable. This would be especially difficult since the government has been experiencing widespread breaches that would result in the keys falling into the wrong hands. Moreover, the demands would have a ripple effect as other countries such as China would feel obliged to enforce similar measures, and this would put the very people the “back doors” are supposed to protect at risk. The adverse economic impact of compromised Internet anonymity would also be substantial, not to mention an affront to the moral authority developed countries currently wield in the rest of the world.

Encryption

The government’s stand is that end-to-end encryption makes it harder for them to do their job by forcing them to pursue targets rather than the companies supplying the technology. However, those in support of the report released by the experts believe that this report conclusively explains why the government’s proposal is not at all workable.

The Battle Over Privacy And Internet Anonymity

The Conflict

NSA leaksIn 2013, Edward Snowden, a former CIA contractor, leaked classified details containing the extensive surveillance and spy activities conducted by the U.S. government through the NSA. His revelations indicated that the NSA was collecting phone records of millions of Americans, had unlimited access to the major email service providers such as Yahoo and Gmail, and also had direct access to Facebook, Skype, Apples, and YouTube servers, all of which handle millions of users worldwide.

The revelations sparked a global outrage. In the post-Snowden era, millions of internet users are more aware of the possibility that their traffic may be monitored at any given point in time with little or no oversight and regulation. Even corporates collect billions of user metadata from internet traffic to predict user behavior patterns, lifestyle choices, and other statistics. Unfortunately, some of these practices are unregulated and collect an overwhelming amount of private data.

Internet Anonymity and Privacy Tools

Internet users are now rebelling against tracking and snooping by adopting privacy tools and plugins that block ads. Private search engines such as DuckDuckGo and anonymous browsers insulate against intruders who steal data and compromise on users’ online anonymity. The four major search engines, Google, Yahoo, Bing, Chrome and Safari, all have an in-built feature that enables users to browse the web privately.

DoNotTrackMe, for instance, is a browser plugin available for the four browsers, which prevents ads and social networks as well as notorious data collection companies from tracking you across the sites you visit. Adblock Plus is another popular browser plugin that works in a similar fashion as DoNotTrackMe, but focusing chiefly on ads.

Cryptography is, undeniably, one of the few proven and trusted mechanisms for enforcing internet anonymity. Today cryptography is no longer a mere branch of computer science, but a mainstream concept. Virtual Private Networks ride on cryptography. They create a barrier between the tracking and monitoring agencies, and the users who use to maintain their internet anonymity.

The Onion Router (Tor), which is founded on cryptography, makes monitoring, eavesdropping and snooping almost impossible. Tor masks user IPs and bounces off traffic through multiple relays spread across the globe. Using cryptography to hide in the network makes it even difficult to uncover a communication’s source.

The Future of Privacy and Internet Anonymity

Protection LockTo promote privacy and internet anonymity, search engines, browsers and other web services may result to embedding encryption and security into their services. For instance, Tor users may be familiar with Disconnect.me, the network’s choice of search engine, which was designed by former Google engineers. The browser is now available to mainstream internet users as a browser plugin. Working like a VPN, Disconnect.me blocks requests from web analytics companies, preventing them from tracking your activities on the internet.

Such significant steps in the battle for privacy and internet anonymity are bound lock horns with corporate giants, marketing and advertising firms. What is certain, though, is that the battleground will expand exponentially as people gradually become aware of the massive privacy violations conducted on the internet. User behavior on the internet will also change significantly, and people will put privacy needs before user experience and interactivity.

Snowden: Two years after NSA Leaks

Two years after the publicized U.S surveillance programs data leaks by Mr. Edward Snowden, the nation’s tech firms are still anxious about backlash from other governments. According to Yael Weinman, the Vice President of international privacy policy at ITIC, many foreign states continue pushing for policies which require that all data generated within their borders be stored within the country and not outside. He says that such barriers to cross-border data flow only makes doing business become a difficult thing, given that today the world is more of a global village.

Edward Snowden

The initial surveillance leaks from Snowden, former contractor of the U.S. National Security Agency, has drawn major debate on whether it’s appropriate for governments to share their virtual information with other states for security reasons. The heightened pressure in some nations for Internet anonymity data policies will not just hurt U.S tech gurus, but also vendors from other countries around the world since they’ll have to comply with these same regulations as well. For instance, a Russian data localization law is expected to be passed by September 2015.

NSA leaks

Generally, it’s estimated that the data backlash exhibited by these foreign states will cost U.S. tech companies anywhere between $21.5 and $35 billion dollars. It’s now emerging that the entire U.S. IT economy, and not just the cloud-computing sector, has immensely underperformed since Snowden’s revelations. Apart from Russia’s upcoming regulation, Germany and France are also trying to create their own private Internet anonymity networks while other countries such as China, India and Australia have already imposed data localization laws. Even before Snowden’s revelations, some countries had already began pressing for regulation of data within their respective territories, but this unfortunate event only made them more adamant in pursuing this goal for Internet anonymity reasons.

Campaign Against Internet Anonymity

The Pentagon has just updated its strategy on cybersecurity. But as the updates were rolled out last month, there is one crucial item that may have escaped the attention of many – the strategy on Internet anonymity.

Robert LenzWhat many didn’t realize is the smart move by the Department of Defense to use the newly updated strategy to openly attempt to reduce the level of Internet anonymity that is often enjoyed online.

According to the Department of Defense, Internet anonymity enhances “malicious cyberactivity” by both state as well as nonstate groups. While the latest move is widely seen as the boldest ever attack on the web’s secrecy, the Defense department has always expressed its opposition against anonymity on the web. It is in 2009 when then DOD chief information officer Robert Lenz spoke sternly against Internet anonymity, saying it needs to be driven out of the Internet. He even went ahead to refer to the need to kill anonymity as the most important priority for the country.

Now the new strategy has apparently identified quite a number of problems with Internet anonymity. For instance, the government cannot identify and punish cybercriminals because they are shielded by anonymity. It’s also difficult for Pentagon to effectively respond and stop cyberattacks.

Internet anonymity is the typical double edged sword. While it serves as the best protection and cover for criminals and people with malicious intentions, it also protects honest individuals against unfair government or corporate retaliation for simply expressing their opinions on matters that affect them.

cybercriminals

Anonymity creates the best platform for freedom of expression to thrive. Remember free speech is a fundamental component of democracy which is key for a balanced and fair society. Honest individuals out to express unpopular views can only do so in the comfort of anonymity because it’s always obvious that not everyone will tolerate their views. Those against them are ever eager to identify and punish or even eliminate them.

This is why Internet anonymity is a serious necessity for the honest persons whose only desire is to voice what they feel should be expressed for the greater good of everyone. Think about the journalists and bloggers who took cover in the anonymity of Tor to hide their identities when expressing their views online during the revolution. These are people who stood up to fight for democracy. Internet anonymity gave them the comfort and space to do it.

Without Internet anonymity, the freedom of expression plus the healthy political activity that it often guards will also go away. The consequences of such a move will be fatal and the impact dire. Even the businesses that are currently supporting the eradication of anonymity will begin to feel the detrimental effects of an internet void of anonymity.

While the problems cited are valid, the notion that anonymity should be driven out is one that must be approached with caution. Freedom of expression and healthy political activity are fundamental pillars to any society that wants to make progress. Instead of killing these key pillars, the Pentagon may want to consider strategies that identify the criminals without necessarily punishing the genuine individuals who are voicing their honest views online. They must always be protected and Internet anonymity is their supreme protection.

WikiLeaks Has Relaunched

After an internal breakdown among staffers five years ago, WikiLeaks is once again open for business, a file sharing site that allows users to anonymously upload and share documents that contain sensitive and/or classified materials. WikiLeaks reviews and release important information that has otherwise been kept secret from the world.

Julian Assange

Currently seeking asylum in England, Julian Assange, controversial leader of WikiLeaks, has finally managed to get the site up and running again with the recent release of the official beta version. Although, the process has not been without its challenges.

First, the complete breakdown in operations five years ago was blamed on staff members not trusting the motivations of Assange, who then took it upon themselves to deconstruct the anti-secrecy group from within. Also, security concerns have been a top priority for everybody involved with WikiLeaks; the ever changing technological landscape makes internet anonymity a moving target. However, the group has confirmed their renewed efforts to protect the identity of users with a Tor-based system that has been extremely successful, assuring users they can maintain their internet anonymity while leaking sensitive documents.

Additionally, WikiLeaks must keep up with the competition; sites such as GlobaLeaks and SecureDrop are now also providing internet anonymity services for uploading classified documents. Though, Assange addressed these issues by promising a bolder approach to secret leaking, explaining that WikiLeaks is going to focus on complete transparency, while other companies are known for censoring their leaked material. According to Assange, the reformulated WikiLeaks will publish uncensored materials, such as portions of the Snowden documents, of which 99 percent have been kept hidden by all other sources.

WikiLeaks

Internet anonymity is hard to come by when attempting to leak confidential information. Moreover, users want to be absolutely positive their identities are protected when sharing this information. The new and improved WikiLeaks site promises that, and more, to truth seekers around the world.

Safety Measures Online

Internet safety basically includes protection from threats, harassment, and identity theft. Maintaining internet anonymity is also another facet of online safety. Using Internet is much like exploring other areas in real life. One must use common sense and prudent judgment. Whenever you are undertaking any financial transactions online, you should always know why and to whom you’re providing the information. You should avoid unfamiliar websites, and you should never give out any of your personal information like bank accounts, credit cards and your social security number unless you’re 100% sure of the entity you’re providing them to. In addition, never respond or open emails from any unknown contacts; they may contain viruses, malware and other malicious software or programs which can install themselves to your PC without your knowledge.

Safety Measures Online

Safety Measures Online

Choose a strong password. Passwords are much like the keys to your accounts; only the one with that key can be able to access them. Whenever you are choosing your password, you will want to ensure you select one that’s unique, strong, and isn’t easily guessed by online strangers or the ones close to you. You need to choose a password which uses numbers, letters, Upper case, lower case and characters.

Shop safely and always guard your card. Shopping online is a major part of modern online experience and it’s potentially dangerous. You should only shop with trustworthy, reputable websites which offer comprehensive customer protection policy and are properly accredited by reputable organizations. In addition, try and maintain internet anonymity by keeping the credit card(s) information private; any disreputable individual or business that gets your credit card(s) information may hijack your online identity and even make fraudulent purchases.

maintain internet anonymityTo protect your online personal information and maintain internet anonymity, you may manually delete the cookies, the temporary files and all other data using “Options” or the “Preferences” feature on your browser. Ensure that you manually sign out or log out of sites and then set the browser(s) to never remember the passwords to make sure that the login data is not ignored or saved when clearing the cookies and various other files.

Additionally, to maintain internet anonymity, turn off “3rd party” cookies so as to reduce trails you leave when surfing the Web.

The Dangers Of Using MovieBox

So you want to play a part in the golden age of digital piracy? Maybe you’re brand new to this world, or maybe you’ve already tried some direct music downloads, or viewed some online streams. Either way, I’m here to talk to you about MovieBox.

MovieBox is an awesome app that installs onto your iOS device and you can watch all of the latest movies and TV shows right on your iPhone or iPad or even airplay to your TV. If you wan to know how to install MovieBox then go here.

MovieBox home

Movie box uses P2P  torrents to deliver the movies and TV shows. Torrents one of the most powerful tools at your disposal when it comes to getting any media you want for free.

A torrent is just a small computer file, which allows a user with a BitTorrent client, such as MovieBox, to access tracker computers from around the web, which have pieces of a file the user wishes to download. Each of these computers upload the various parts of the file that they have, allowing the user to download the file.

The torrent file itself will contain metadata about the file/files being distributes and also will normally contain a list of the network location of trackers which allow the uploaders to group together in swarms in order to achieve more efficient distribution.

This method of distribution, developed by Bram Cohen is extremely powerful, as it allows large files to be downloaded very quickly. As well as this, unlike an online stream or direct download, the file isn’t actually hosted on a website, it is accessed from various different computers around the world. This allows pirates more security.

danger sign

Are there any risks to downloading via MovieBox?

Yes of course there are, and I’ll discuss them now. What many people don’t realise about torrenting, is that every downloader is also acting as an uploader, and is seeding the file. As I have already mentioned, this is how the download works, computers connected via the trackers upload pieces of the file so that they can be accessed by other computers. So unlike watching a stream where you’re just a user of a pirated file, when using torrents and MovieBox, you are contributing to sharing the file.

Is there any way to prevent this?

Yes there is, you can limit the amount you upload, however, because of developments in BitTorrent clients, you may be faced with viciously limited download speeds, as low as 0.1 Kb/s, because leechers, those who don’t seed, are not wanted in a swarm.

In reality, you’re probably going to end up seeding the files, and this does put you at some risk. Recently in Australia, those who downloaded “Dallas Buyers Club” through torrents have been targeted, and a court ruling has been given, forcing ISPs to hand over the details of those who downloaded the film illegally. All those who participated will face fines.

A man from Sweden was fined  $652,000 USD for sharing 1 movie! In the USA the damages are limited to $150,000 per movie but think how many movies have you watched? You probably where uploading it at the same time and didn’t even know. Another even bigger example of massive fines for sharing content via torrents is in the USA a couple of years back. Jamie Thomas-Rasset was fined in $1.9 million USD in the US for sharing 24 songs.

privacy

To prevent this from happening to yourself, what you really need to do is to mask your internet activity. You can do this by using a VPN or Virtual Private Network. A VPN creates a private connection between computers that are linked over a public network such as the internet.

When using a good VPN, only encrypted data, which looks like gibberish is sent to your ISP, meaning that your privacy is secure. If any movie studio try to get your records from your ISP to check if you have been sharing pirated content then your ISP will have nothing to hand over because even they do no t know what you have been doing.

If you want a good VPN for MovieBox then there are a few things to look for:

1. Make sure to they allow P2P traffic (torrents) and that it is unthrottled. Many VPN providers will slow your speed down if using torrents so just make sure they don’t.

2. Make sure it has a good mobile app sice you will be using it on your iOS device.

3. Make sure they dont keep any logs! Some companies log your activity while using the VPN which completely defeats the purpose. The best ones log nothing.

You can find a good VPN at this site TopVPNSoftware.com. They seem to have tested the VPN’s pretty well as I have checked out a lot of the VPN review sites and most of them seem like they have not even looked at the VPN’s themselves.

Using torrents and MovieBox opens up a world of possibilities, however, it is important that you remember at all times to keep your privacy secure.