How safe is Tor? Ask the CIA

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Image credit: CIA

The CIA now has a presence on the dark web via an onion site that it has set up on the Tor network.

It can be found at ciadotgov4sjwlzihbbgxnqg3xiyrg7so2r2o3lt5wz5ypk4sxyjstad.onion and while it does look like one of those dodgy URLs scammers often use, it is actually a genuine website although you won’t be able to access it via your usual browser. 

Instead you will need the dedicated Tor browser, currently in version 8.0.9.

Secure

The agency introduced the announcement saying “Secure, anonymous, untraceable - traits ever-present in CIA’s intelligence collection mission - and the same is true for our onion site”. Commentators were quick to point out the irony of the statement with many pushing the sarcasm further by joking that it might be a trap. 

The site is a copy of the official CIA.gov where you will find the exact content: from The World Factbook to reporting information to applying for a job.

Brittany Bramell, CIA’s Director of Public Affairs, said in a statement that the agency’s “global mission demands that individuals can access us securely from anywhere. Creating an onion site is just one of many ways we’re going where people are.” 

Tor protects the IP address of the person visiting an onion site and the browsing data by encrypting it and bouncing the traffic via nodes located globally to make it near impossible to track a particular visitor.

More astute users combine Tor with a VPN in order to make it even more difficult to pinpoint them.