Why the attack on Tor matters

(credit: Aurich Lawson / Thinkstock)

This post was originally published on the blog A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering. Matthew Green is a cryptographer and professor at Johns Hopkins University who has designed and analyzed cryptographic systems used in wireless networks, payment systems and digital content protection platforms.

On Wednesday, Motherboard posted a court document filed in a prosecution against a Silk Road 2.0 user indicating that the user had been de-anonymized on the Tor network thanks to research conducted by a "university-based research institute."

As Motherboard pointed out, the timing of this research lines up with an active attack on the Tor network that was discovered and publicized in July 2014. Moreover, the details of that attack were eerily similar to the abstract of a (withdrawn) BlackHat presentation submitted by two researchers at the CERT division of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).

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