Thursday, 24 September 2015

Tor is Broken

For a long time in my mind there's been no doubt that Tor is broken, at least with respect to the powers available to the United States and its allies. Think about it. There are no where near a million Tor nodes and even fewer exit nodes, and a million servers is a rounding error in the DoD black budget for a year.

Sure, non DoD Tor nodes exist, but what % of them are p0wned? (Zero Day Exploit) I'll hazard a guess; just that % required to make it statistically implausible that, combined with traffic analysis, context gleaned from exit nodes a handful of zero-days etc. etc. no one can use Tor and expect sustained anonymity from the government.

I actually think that's a good thing. Hear me out. For the general Tor user who just wants their ISP , nosy Shark Wire aware neighbor, political opponents, large corporations, website owners land various databrokers to fuck off, they have what they want For dissidents in oppressive nations, those nations probably can't muster the resources to de-anonymize Tor users. For very bad people who want to do very bad things, we can get them, with some effort.

I know this is a minority opinion, but I think that the opposing opinion is regressive. Once, it wasn't possible for a small group of non-nation-state individuals to wreak mayhem on millions of people at once.

Once, the amount badness that could be achieved by Bad Guys was a trade-off between the number of people the Bad Guys wanted to effect, the number of people the Bad Guys could enlist to help them and the degree of severity of the Badness itself. Not any more. This changes everything.

We are living more and more in a world in which a few or even one really fucked up person can reach out and kill. This is nothing but the advancement of technology, and it's not going to stop. That means the power of small groups gets larger and broader even as the size of that group spiral down to one.

How are we going to counter this general phenomena? I agree, that giving any government unchecked, unobservable, unlimited powers is always a bad idea. (Ironcially, I believe this because of the actions members of administrations who profess to want to "get government off our backs" and told us "government isn't the solution, it's the problem"- Oliver North, James Secord, Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzales etc etc. )

But in the face of this hypothetical and not-always hypothetical threat we still have the facts on the ground with respect to advancing technologies and the leverage it gives just anyone.

I don't think the answer is to limit the power of government. We need that power to exist. I think the answer lies in the people being able to hold the government accountable and their actions rendered transparent to a degree that would shock most people today, both in and out of government. We need to radically re-think the national security 3rd-rail issues like national security classifications, clearances, Presidential directives, etc. etc.

It will tear this country apart if the government continues to do what it knows it needs to do in order to avert terrorism and societal chaos and the people continue to feel like they have no faith in the integrity of the processes and powers of the government- that it could at any moment turn the death ray on them, and probably will. That whole dynamic, the whole world view needs to be addressed and not just addressed but actually resolved by some radical out of the box thinking no one had done yet.

We can have both security and freedom, but it's not going to just arise naturally by continuing on with the status quo conceptual categories we are using now.

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