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TUCoPS :: Spies! :: anonbkd.txt

Popular Net Anonymity Service Backdoored by court order!




From: Thomas C. Greene  <thomas.greene@theregister.co.uk>
To: bugtraq@securityfocus.com <bugtraq@securityfocus.com>
Subject: Popular Net anonymity service back-doored
Date: Thursday, August 21, 2003 9:24 AM

Popular Net anonymity service back-doored
Fed-up Feds get court order
http://theregister.co.uk/content/55/32450.html

The popular Java Anonymous Proxy (JAP), used to anonymise one's comings and 
goings across the Internet, has been back-doored by court order. The service 
is currently logging access attempts to a particular, and unnamed, Web site 
and reporting the IP addys of those who attempt to contact it to the German 
police.

We know this because the JAP operators immediately warned users that their IP 
traffic might be going straight to Big Brother, right? Wrong. After taking 
the service down for a few days with the explanation that the interruption 
was "due to a hardware failure", the operators then required users to install 
an "upgraded version" (ie. a back-doored version) of the app to continue 
using the service.

"As soon as our service works again, an obligatory update (version 00.02.001) 
[will be] needed by all users," the public was told. Not a word about Feds or 
back doors.

Fortunately, a nosey troublemaker had a look at the 'upgrade' and noticed some 
unusual business in it, such as:

"CAMsg::printMsg(LOG_INFO,"Loading Crime Detection Data....\n");"
"CAMsg::printMsg(LOG_CRIT,"Crime detected - ID: %u - Content:
\n%s\n",id,crimeBuff,payLen);"

and posted it to alt.2600.

Soon the JAP team replied to the thread, admitting that there is now a "crime 
detection function" in the system mandated by the courts. But they defended 
their decision:

"What was the alternative? Shutting down the service? The security 
apparatchiks would have appreciated that - anonymity in the Internet and 
especially AN.ON are a thorn in their side anyway."

Sorry, the Feds undoubtedly appreciated the JAP team's willingness to 
back-door the app while saying nothing about it a lot more than they would 
have appreciated seeing the service shut down with a warning that JAP can no 
longer fulfill its stated obligation to protect anonymity due to police 
interference.

Admittedly, the JAP team makes some good points in its apology. For one, they 
say they're fighting the court order but that they must comply with it until 
a decision is reached on their appeal.

Jap is a collaborative effort of Dresden University of Technology, Free 
University Berlin and the Independent Centre for Privacy Protection 
Schleswig-Holstein, Germany (ICPP). A press release from ICPP assures users 
that JAP is safe to use because access to only one Web site is currently 
being disclosed, and only under court-ordered monitoring.

But that's not the point. Disclosure is the point. The JAP Web site still 
claims that anonymity is sacrosanct: "No one, not anyone from outside, not 
any of the other users, not even the provider of the intermediary service can 
determine which connection belongs to which user."

This is obviously no longer true, if it ever was. And that's a serious 
problem, that element of doubt. Anonymity services can flourish only if users 
trust providers to be straight with them at all times. This in turn means 
that providers must be absolutely punctilious and obsessive about disclosing 
every exception to their assurances of anonymity. One doesn't build 
confidence by letting the Feds plug in to the network, legally or otherwise, 
and saying nothing about it.

Justifying it after the fact, as the JAP team did, simply isn't good enough.

Telling us that they only did it to help catch criminals isn't good enough 
either. Sure, no normal person is against catching criminals - the more the 
merrier, I say. But what's criminal is highly relative, always subject to 
popular perception and state doctrine. If we accept Germany's definition of 
criminal activity that trumps the natural right to anonymity and privacy, 
then we must accept North Korea's, China's and Saudi Arabia's. They have laws 
too, after all. The entire purpose of anonymity services is to sidestep state 
regulation of what's said and what's read on the basis of natural law.

The JAP Web site has a motto: "Anonymity is not a crime." It's a fine one, 
even a profound one. But it's also a palpably political one. The JAP project 
inserted itself, uncalled, into the turbulent confluence between natural law 
and state regulation, and signaled its allegiance to the former. It's tragic 
to see it bowing to the latter. 



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