14:16 GMT +315 October 2018
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    Cyber crime

    Nearly Half of Grizzly Steppe's 'Russian Hacking' IP Addresses Prove Nothing

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    The US intelligence community’s Grizzly Steppe report claims that 876 unique IP addresses were used to infiltrate the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta’s email accounts. But it turns out that 42 percent of those IPs are, or were, simply part of Tor’s evolving network of exit nodes, a new analysis has revealed.

    A whopping 367 of the IPs are, or were, simply Tor exit nodes, according to a recent analysis by The Intercept’s Micah Lee. This means anyone using a Tor web browser, whether in Ireland, Nigeria, Alaska, or mom’s basement in Ohio, could leave an IP trace that would apparently render them as those crème de la crème Russian computer hackers, according to the logic of the US intelligence community’s report.

    Tor allows users to surf the web anonymously by bouncing the IP address through a series of 7,000 servers, or nodes, and then shooting out some randomized IP address that says what IP addressed was "used." The point is to mask browsing habits, not only from government agencies but also from corporations that annoyingly want to sell you products based on your browsing history. By bouncing your IP through a global net of servers, your location becomes almost impossible to track.

    Lee’s analysis revealed that a questionable IP address, 93.115.95.202, one of the IPs listed in the Grizzly Steppe report, is actually in her own web logs. "If I find this IP address in my logs, that’s evidence that I’m a target for Russian cyber-attacks," the report suggested.  Nonetheless, the suspicious IP was in a web log containing a temporary URL that only Lee knew, leaving the journalist to wonder, "Does this mean that I’m an elite Russian hacker and I just didn’t realize it?"

    The Tor Project was funded in part by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, between 2013-2016, according to the Tor Project's list of sponsors. Tor is seen as a way to cultivate democracy for those living under authoritarian regimes and eventually improve diplomatic ties. For instance, as the Tor Project website states, the US Navy uses Tor for open-source intelligence gathering in the Middle East. Another example of Tor’s usefulness is demonstrated by US law enforcement, which "uses Tor for visiting or surveilling web sites without leaving government IP addresses in their web logs."

    US President Barack Obama ordered the removal of 35 Russian diplomats living in America in response to their alleged involvement with the DNC hacks. Russian President Vladimir Putin did not react so hastily, deferring to wait for President-elect Donald Trump’s administration to resume building positive ties between the US and Russia. Trump is scheduled to receive a briefing from the "intelligence" community on Friday "on so-called 'Russian hacking'" but remarked that the delayed meeting could point to the intelligence community’s need for more time to "build a case."

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    Tags:
    Grizzly Steppe, Tor, Hack, The Intercept, U.S. Department of State, John Podesta, Barack Obama, United States
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