Tor has always been a tough target for law enforcement for years, but the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has found a way to successfully track users across the network.
Tor was generally thought to be a place where users come online to hide their activities and remain anonymous, but a court case has revealed this is not the case. The FBI has been using a tactic called drive-by hacking to track computers using the Tor anonymous computing system.
Security researchers call the tactic a “drive-by download” in which a hacker infiltrates a high-traffic website to deliver the malware to large swaths of visitors. That simply means that the FBI first infects the target sites and then installs malware to tracks its users.
The approach has proved successful in some ways by ensuring over a dozen alleged users of Tor-based child porn sites are now headed for trial. However it’s also created controversy, with charges that the Justice Department has glossed over the bulk-hacking technique when describing it to judges, while concealing its use from defendants. Critics also worry about mission creep, the weakening of a technology relied on by human rights workers and activists, and the potential for innocent parties to wind up infected with US government malware because they visited the wrong website.