NSA Double Agents Working for TOR?

Could government agents working for the NSA and other spy agencies secretly be assisting online privacy company Tor stay secure? That is the claim being made by the head of the company.

Tor is a virtual network and internet browser, allowing users to surf Web sites without having their browsing history tracked. The application was developed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. The system is utilized by the military, as well as advocacy groups.

Tor allows users to report suspected bugs in the application. Some of the suggestions made to the company required intricate knowledge of the code used to create Tor.

Andrew Lewman, executive director of Tor, believes some of these comments may be coming from double agents, working for U.S. Spy agencies.

He stated, “there are plenty of people in both organizations that can anonymously leak data to us saying ‘maybe you should look here’ or ‘maybe you should fix this.”

Lewman suggests that computer researchers working for the NSA may be upset over recent revelations of widespread spying by the agency. Although it is “only a hunch” on his part, he told the BBC the company is receiving similar reports every month.

Tor is one of the most secure systems available for Web surfers who wish to maintain their privacy while online.

The Russian government recently offered $100,000 to anyone who could break into the database maintained by the Tor network. Some bugs in the system are being recorded by private researchers, as well as public agencies. One developer was set to deliver a presentation on how to easily gather information from Tor on a budget. That speech, scheduled for a conference discussing the network, was recently canceled.

Tor operates by maintaining 6,000 internet relays in 89 countries. When a user puts in a request through the browser, that information is routed through three of these relays. The systems used constantly change, making a user appear to be located in a random area. Over 150 million people have downloaded Tor in the last year.

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