The National Security Agency has been trying to hack into Tor networks, according to a new report by The Guardian’s NSA watcher Glenn Greenwald. Ironically, the NSA’s attempts to hack the online anonymity tool are an example of one U.S. government agency trying to defuse something promoted by another U.S. Federal agency.
The most recent NSA revelations come from top-secret NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden, and they show that NSA has repeatedly attempted to find vulnerabilities in the Tor online network.
Some of those attempts involve targeting the Firefox web browser when it’s using Tor, a hacking technique also suspected to be used by the FBI to take over a Tor network over the summer. The documents suggest that the NSA has had limited, piecemeal success in its attacks on Tor networks.
Tor is a system that relies on a volunteer network of computers to anonymously relay internet signals through a maze of connections, which are called relays or nodes. This keeps users’ traffic secure from surveillance or censorship, while retaining the anonymity of the user. In the wake of the avalanche of NSA-overreach reports this summer, the Tor network’s traffic has more than doubled.