Doug Vitale Tech Blog

Posts Tagged ‘anonymous

Tor anonymity: how it works and how to use it

The Onion Router (TOR) network is intended to help protect the privacy of Internet users and promote greater freedom of expression online. Tor is a system of volunteer servers that acts as a buffer between Internet users and the resources they connect to. If you connect as a Tor client, your online access is channeled through this buffer before it reaches the general Internet. To understand clearly how Tor functions, you must first have a good idea of what proxy servers are, and of the role they play during network transmissions.

A proxy server acts as a middleman between a client computer and the target server or resource it is accessing. As such, proxies can be configured to log user activity and restrict Internet access; for example, by blocking certain websites or protocols. However, proxies can also help protect the client user’s privacy because the target server is only aware that it is communicating with the proxy, not with the client. For example, if you connect to a web proxy and then load a website, the site is only aware that it is being accessed by the proxy and it has no knowledge of your computer and IP address. The illustration below depicts network data flow when a proxy is deployed. Resources within the Internet icon (such as web servers) are only aware of the proxy server, not of the three clients behind it.

Internet access through a proxy server

The “Internet” only knows about the proxy, not the three clients

Now what if instead of using a single proxy server, you could connect to a network of them for increased bandwidth and availability? And what if you could encrypt your communication sessions for increased confidentiality? Using Tor, you can.

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Written by Doug Vitale

May 29, 2012 at 11:06 PM

The HBGary Federal Hack

In February 2011, the loosely knit collective of hacktivists known as Anonymous successfully compromised the corporate network of HBGary Federal (HBG Fed), a company that provided information security services to the federal government of the United States. This attack brought down the HBG Fed website, compromised the Twitter and LinkedIn accounts of HBG Fed CEO Aaron Barr, and resulted in the public release of thousands of internal documents and emails.

Before proceeding you may want to familiarize yourself with the history of the Anonymous hacker group.

Anonymous logo


HBGary Federal logo

Storm brewing – the prelude to the attack

The internal documents disseminated to the public by Anonymous reveal much about the nature of HBG Fed’s business operations before “the incident”. HBG Fed was engaged in several anti-hacker projects that were aimed at disrupting and discouraging Anonymous-style hacktivism. Based on their own internal files, here is a breakdown of HBG Fed’s efforts at fighting Anonymous, similarly motivated Internet activists, and individuals deemed to be antagonistic to their clients.

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Written by Doug Vitale

January 13, 2012 at 1:55 PM

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