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Catherine Fitzpatrick

Let me reprint this other item that shows how Runa and Soldatov organized this conference:

Data protection against illegal access discussed in Moscow

By Dmitry Florin, GDF correspondent in Central Federal District

A conference “Access to Information in an Internet-Censored Environment” was held at Moscow’s Andrei Sakharov Public Centre on 30 April. The organisers – Andrei Soldatov, chief editor of the news website, and Runa Sandvik, senior IT specialist with the Centre for Democracy & Technology and analyst with the Freedom of the Press Foundation and the TrueCrypt Audit project (USA) – told the conferees about existing methods of information protection against undesirable surveillance.

“In a situation where access to important and independent online information is blocked, and where the latest legislative initiatives on blogger registration restrict online freedom of expression, web users need a new strategy to help them feel freer. The Tor project, launched by a group of enthusiasts, helps users to secure their anonymity in the internet and to skirt censorship,” the organisers said announcing the conference agenda.

Runa Sandvik of the Tor project has worked on developing a web browser that makes it possible to view blocked websites. Tor and a few other browsers have been in great demand in the past few months – ever since the Russian authorities blocked a whole range of opposition websites, among them,, Yezhednevny Zhurnal and others – without letting the relevant media staffs know for what particular law violation their sites were blocked.

Another major topic for discussion at the conference was how to secure the confidentiality of online information. Fresh on everybody’s memory are the recent scandals stirred up by a number of media based on hacked correspondence of politicians and prominent public figures. Sandvik, who is a digital security specialist, has worked in Washington for four years as a Tor security trainer for law enforcers and journalists. “Safe methods of work need patience,” she said addressing the Sakharov Centre conferees. She cited examples of scandals that had flared up over the hacking of logins to Forbes staffers’ IP addresses by a group of hackers calling themselves the Syrian Electronic Army, and made an overview of some tricks hackers play to crack logins to different e-mail and other web accounts.

“As regards telephone and SmartPhone security, the universal answer to this would be: you’d better not have any phone at all,” Sandvik said.

Asked if she thought it likely for Russia to switch the internet off altogether on its territory and to replace it with a domestic analogue network, she said, “I don’t think that will happen. Many governments in different countries have tried to but failed. Even in North Korea, the internet isn’t blocked throughout the country. Technically, of course, that would be possible, but I can’t imagine what country might be able to do it.”

Toward the end of the meeting, volunteers were offered to get brief instructions on how to use different information security tools – the Tor anonymizing browser, the Adium messenger with a correspondence-coding application, and others.

Sen So

re: Tor

The one who controls the most "guard" nodes, owns the network. Guard nodes are trusted, long-running, high-bandwidth servers. There are some very stable and fast nodes in DC and Virginia that would cost a fortune to run on the free market. Recent research ("spoiled onions") shows that of the top 20 Tor nodes in Russia, 16 actively tamper with the network. They can't compromise it like that, not for lack of trying, so they will try from the inside. The recent arrest of deHart of Anonymous in Canada shows the Russian embassy was particularly interested in Anonymous and Wikileaks.

Sen So

Sandvik isn't a developer. She was responsible for packaging Tor for Linux. The equivalent of an intern fetching coffee. Just like Appelbaum, he wrote something like 0.1% of the Tor source code.

But you are right about their sabotaging anything not controlled by Assange's gang. Durov was forced out of his country but this intern is welcomed. Gee I wonder who is the threat to that government. Durov fled because his life was threatened for not bugdooring his software, like Tor. Tor admits to not even trying to defend against the "global passive adversary" which in practice doesn't need to be global or passive. Tor is developed by three or four core people, who absolutely can be bought -- all live in the US, the top two have families and the third loves LSD. But anyway, they are already bought: 80% of Tor funding is from the US government. If you think they are going to do anything against the GPA any time soon, think again. Maybe when Russia gets the skills to be one, then it will be a priority. ;) Just like "circumvention" wasn't a priority until the Iranian government started tagging Tor traffic with DPI.

Catherine Fitzpatrick

Sandvik is shown on chat lists and github and such as a developer, I don't know if it is accurate to say she merely fetches coffee. She's a geek girl. I realize Appelbaum did a lot less for Tor than he is described, but he's listed with titles and glorification even more than ever on the latest version of their website.

Yes, I think there is simple sabotage of Durov going on -- no angel he, but they are despicable. This man has to flee Russia, and they are dicks.

But ultimately, you, as an anonymous source, fall short, because you seem to belong to the camp that hates Tor merely because it's American and funded by the government and you believe it is deliberately "bug-doored" with the connivance of Sandvik and Appelbaum, and they must appear like hackers as a kind of "cover".

I don't see evidence for that other than script kiddie forums with conspiracy theories.

I think they are in fact true believer anarchists who have wormed into the US government like later-day Alger Hisses and are trying to wave that very McCarthyism anti-anti communism/anti-witch hunt sort of card to escape scrutiny or even prosecution.

As for comments on the others, I have no clue. Having or not having a family doesn't make one more or less likely to hack (see Sabu). I find it hard to believe anyone "loves" LSD -- it's not cocaine, and we're not in 1968 at a Grateful Dead concernt.

As for something called "the global passive adversary," I don't even know what that is. It sounds contagious.

In other words, you don't oppose Tor on the right grounds, that it is actually unethical, or that they've helped Snowden, you oppose them merely because you think it's The Man.


As for the stuff about guard nodes and the servers in Langley, if that's your hint, or in Ft. Meade, well, maybe so, maybe not. Who knows. I have no knowledge of this and you are anonymous.

The information about the spoiled onions is openly reported by the Swedes. Of course the Russians snoop and pull just like Assange did in his day, absolutely no different, they are hand and glove.

I read about DeHart but he sounded like a wannabee. Will have to study closer.

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