General Question

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Why haven’t those who may be terrorist, insurgents, etc. not discovered how to use onion routers or similar technology to communicate in the blind?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26821points) November 7th, 2014

If technology exist that can bounce your communications through a myriad of computers while encrypting the date many times as to hide the source and designation, how come those seen as insurgents or terrorist to the governments they oppose have not learned to use it? I am sure some criminal organizations have learned to use it to their advantage.

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9 Answers

josie's avatar

How do you know they haven’t?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

I guess because the government seem to have thwarted some high level attacks and very few have actually been carried out, as evidence that the feds got wind of it because they attackers were tracked and spied on up top.

zenvelo's avatar

Consider that the Feds just took down Pirate Bay 2.0 this week, and all that is is a drug site. The NSA is listening to everything, and they pick up on something and turn their full focus on it.

But also consider ISIS has a full black market oil operation going, and a lot of that negotiation is electronic, and it hasn’t been shut down.

flutherother's avatar

I’d be surprised if they haven’t but using a complex means to disguise what you are doing is suspicious in itself.

jerv's avatar

They probably have. Billions of people have, the main holdouts being those in the technological backwoods of the world: Eastern Africa, Central America, and the US. Those who know anything about technology have known about this for years, if not decades. TOR has been around for over a decade, and anonymizing proxies have been around since…. well, at least as long as there have been computers hooked together over phone lines.

@zenvelo – You are thinking of Silk Road 2.0, taken down 11/6/14 as part of Operation Onymous. Pirate Bay may have lost it’s founders, but taking it down would be like nailing jelly to a tree. Also, Pirate Bay is far from a drug site whereas Silk Road was a marketplace dealing primarily in drugs.

@flutherother Yes, the “Free Tibet” movement is suspicious, as is anyone in China or North Korea wanting to access the real internet instead of just the government censored version. And gawd forbid that a corporation wants to encrypt their stuff to prevent people from stealing patented trade secrets or any other info covered by ITAR, NDAs, HIPA, “national security needs” or anything like that!

And therein lies the problem; there are MANY legitimate uses for secrecy, encryption, and other security measures that allow for the possibility of covert crime like drug-dealing and terrorism.

Anyone who disagrees that there is any legitimate need for things like TOR and PGP, please post ALL of your personal info here; banking info (with PINs and passwords), medical info (including the stuff normally protected by HIPA), SSN, nude pics, any/all confidential information from your workplace… FULL disclosure. If you are unwilling to do that, then you are conceding that there are some things that should be kept secret, and therefore there is no choice but to allow for the possibility of bad things happening in the shadows. Also, be sure to tell China that you support their efforts to reclaim Tibet, and the North Korea is the bastion of enlightenment and freedom.

dabbler's avatar

There’s no reason to think they haven’t taken advantage of all the means of electronic hiding that are available to them.
I’d include the use of crypto-currencies, like Bitcoin, to launder money.
I’d also include crime cartels (e.g. drug and people trafficking) along with ‘terrorist’ groups.

As @jerv points out, there are lots of legitimate used for encryption and obfuscation technologies, including the exercise of constitutionally protected privacy in communications.
But unfortunately using these often puts you on the radar of law enforcement because of the obvious possibilities for criminal activity.

zenvelo's avatar

@jerv thanks for the correction, I was writing from memory and confused the two in my mind.

Your point is well stated: we don’t and can’t know the extent of the hidden traffic, and neither do governments.

flutherother's avatar

@jerv I didn’t mean using onion routers was suspicious in my eyes but it might be in the eyes of governments. (Assuming governments can identify those who use onion routers.)

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@jerv And therein lies the problem; there are MANY legitimate uses for secrecy, encryption, and other security measures that allow for the possibility of covert crime like drug-dealing and terrorism.
That is the rub, isn’t it? Comes back all of the time are knives bad, or the person with the knife, are guns evil or the person with the rifle. Anything can be exploited by those seeking criminal activity or to do harm to others. If people considered terrorist by a government, say the US, plan and carry out attacks by way of onion routers or the Shadow Web, would Uncle Sam seek some means to do away with them, or lock the door to anyone not blessed by the feds to use them?

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