Hi guys,

Below is a link to an explosive article on vice.com outlining how the FBI successfully identified a TOR user. As some of you may know, the TOR Netwerk is supposed to be completely anonymous, making it impossible for its users to be identified. I even did a tip recently on the benefits of using the TOR browser. Here’s an excerpt from the tip that you can read HERE:

What is the TOR browser, and what does it do?
The Tor (The Onion Router) browser conceals its users’ identities and their online activity from surveillance and traffic analysis by separating the identification (IP address etc.) of its users and the routes (the websites they visit) they take. It is called onion routing (like an onion, it has many layers), which encrypts the traffic and then bounces internet users’ and websites’ through “relays” run by a network of thousands of volunteers around the world. You can use TOR to browse the internet anonymously, and you can also use it to access sites on the dark web.

Who uses the TOR browser?
The Tor project team says its users fall into the following main groups:

  • Normal people who want to keep their internet activities private from websites and advertisers;
  • Those concerned about cyberspying, such as Journalists, activists, whistleblowers, etc.
  • Users evade censorship in certain parts of the world.

But now, Joseph Cox from Vice has written an article showing how the US government, and you can assume other governments, can identify users of the TOR browser. The suspect was tracked down to his grandmother’s house using his IP address in this case. This is supposed to be impossible with TOR. Here’s an excerpt from the article that you can read in full HERE:

According to the complaint against him, Al-Azhari allegedly visited a dark web site that hosts “unofficial propaganda and photographs related to ISIS” multiple times on May 14, 2019. In virtue of being a dark web site—­that is, one hosted on the Tor anonymity network—­it should have been difficult for the site owner’s or a third party to determine the real IP address of any of the site’s visitors.

Yet, that’s exactly what the FBI did. It found Al-Azhari allegedly visited the site from an IP address associated with Al-Azhari’s grandmother’s house in Riverside, California. The FBI also found what specific pages Al-Azhari visited, including a section on donating Bitcoin; another focused on military operations conducted by ISIS fighters in Iraq, Syria, and Nigeria; and another page that provided links to material from ISIS’s media arm. Without the FBI deploying some form of surveillance technique, or Al-Azhari using another method to visit the site which exposed their IP address, this should not have been possible.

In a nutshell, in line with the advice I have always given about not trusting any technology, please be careful using TOR as we now have proof that its users can be tracked down.

When I have more information about this, I will do another tip, but for now, please share it with anybody you think might be affected.

All the best,
Max Roberts,
Incognito Privacy Care Team