September 23, 2014

Presentation on how to break Tor removed from Black Hat schedule

Tor project logo(LiveHacking.Com) – A highly anticipated briefing about a low-cost technique for de-anonymising Tor users has been removed from the Black Hat 2014 talk schedule for as-yet unknown reasons. The talk, which would have presented a method on how to identify Tor users, was cancelled at the request of attorneys for Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where the speakers work as researchers.

The spokesperson for the conference, which is running in Las Vegas on August 6-7, said that a Carnegie Mellon attorney informed Black Hat that one of the speakers could not give the Tor talk because the material he would reveal has not been approved for public release by the university or by the Software Engineering Institute (SEI).

The Onion Router (TOR) Project network was originally developed with the US Naval Research Laboratory as part of an investigation into privacy and cryptography on the Internet. Tor re-directs Internet traffic through a set of encrypted relays to conceal a user’s location or usage from anyone monitoring their network traffic. Using Tor makes it more difficult for online activity to be traced including “visits to Web sites, online posts, instant messages, and other communication forms.”

According to Roger Dingledine, one of the original Tor developers, the project did not “ask Black Hat or CERT to cancel the talk. We did (and still
do) have questions for the presenter and for CERT about some aspects of the research, but we had no idea the talk would be pulled before the announcement was made.” He went on to say that the project encourages research on the Tor network along with responsible disclosure of all new and interesting attacks. “Researchers who have told us about bugs in the past have found us pretty helpful in fixing issues, and generally positive to work with,” he added.

Security researcher Alexander Volynkin was scheduled to give the talk titled ‘You Don’t Have to be the NSA to Break Tor: Deanonymizing Users on a Budget’ at the Black Hat conference. It would have outlined ways that individuals can try to find the original source of Tor traffic without the need for large amounts of computing power.

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