Russian Ministry of the Interior Files a Lawsuit for Default of a Tor Hacking Contract

News and Analysis

Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs filed a claim as to terminate a contract with one of Rostech’s subdivisions. The contract scope was in hacking Tor. The reason for termination is officially failure to fulfill the contractial obligations in time; however, a part of the project is already at the enforcement’s disposal.

The project’s purpose is to “research the possibility of obtaining information on users of anonymous network Tor and their equipment”, and its estimated cost comprises 3.9 billion roubles (slightly less than $60 million at the time of writing).

The Rostech’s subdivision, however, states that the project was generally finalized, and that the Ministry’s officers are using its findings right now. Indeed, not so long ago a Russian court found a man guilty in administrative violation. He employed Tor to post comments as to his impressions from taking various illegal drugs. Notwithstanding all the tricks of onion routing, the law enforcement managed to determine his identity.

Some experts think that the claim has nothing to do with any breach of obligations, but only with a desire to save government money or to receive a forfeit payment. Many government customers recently started practicing such policy by filing claims for evidently formal reasons.

However, it is hardly possible that Rostech managed to find vulnerabilities in Tor, which could guarantee to determine a user’s identity. The abovementioned instance of drug enthusiast is more about lack of cautiousness, rather than about failures of Tor. Nevertheless, no one can acutally give a 100 percent gurantee that Tor had not been already hacked. Many experts believe that the fuss around the contract termination and impossibility of hacking Tor were inflated on purpose in order to maintain the delusive confidence of anonymity for anonymizer users.

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