Last August, Dan Egerstad, of Sweden, hacked his way into secret email accounts of government embassies, various NGOs and corporations. It was easy, partly because it was not a secure network. He then posted a very large number of email user names and passwords.
The way he did it was simple.
There is a piece of software that acts, more or less, as a “caller ID blocker” that can be put on a node on the internet, including on your own computer.
This software, called “TOR” was developed by the Navy on the premise that “loose lips sink ships.” They wanted Naval personnel to be able to use email and otherwise access the internat without spies using this “traffic” info to infer global naval operations. But then one day it dawned on the Navy that TOR left a signature. Thus, anyone could tell that a TOR-marked communication was always a Navy-connected communication.
This prompted the Navy to release this software into the open source world. Now, TOR is said to be primarily used by people using thier office computers to access pornography. But it is also used by people who claim to be libertarians who simply don’t want The Man to ever have any chance of knowing what they are doing.
So, between the Libertarians, who mostly live in shacks in Montana and Idaho, and the Navy, well, TOR is pretty much used to access pornography, I would imagine.
TOR works by taking in some date, encrypting it so nobody can see it, then passing randomly among a network of volunteer TOR nodes (presumably mostly in shacks in Montana and Idaho) messing up its “Caller ID” info at each node, then at the last node, decrypts it and sends it on to where it is supposed to go.
So Dan placed this software on exit-node servers at several locations on the internet, and hacked it so that he simply received a copy of the unencrypted data streaming out of the TOR network.
I would say that is very smart of him but in truth, it is a blindingly obvious thing to do.
The Man came for Dan yesterday.
Dan, clearly an unmitigated wise-ass, his arrest and interrogation is desribed in an email recounted in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald:
“I got a couple of police IDs in my face while told that they are taking me in for questioning,” he said.
But not before the agents, who had staked out his house in undercover blue and grey Saabs (“something that screams cop to every person in Sweden from miles away”), searched his apartment and confiscated computers, CDs and portable hard drives.
“They broke my wardrobe, short cutted my electricity, pulled out my speakers, phone and other cables having nothing to do with this and been touching my bookkeeping, which they have no right to do,” he said.
While questioning Egerstad at the station, the police “played every trick in the book, good cop, bad cop and crazy mysterious guy in the corner not wanting to tell his name and just staring at me”.
“Well, if they want to try to manipulate, I can play that game too. [I] gave every known body signal there is telling of lies … covered my mouth, scratched my elbow, looked away and so on.”
The police let him go but kept is stuff and are saying nothing.
Here’s a fairly annoying podcast of an interview with Dan if this interests you. The “story” Dan gives in this interview is different than the information he apparently supplied other sources earlier on. FOS warning.