Sunday, January 17, 2016

Good Old Grandpa Tor and the HORNET's Nest

I’ve been focused on the attacker side of information security for a while now, and have stumbled upon a rival to Tor. As security gets tighter on the Internet, the deep web is simultaneously thriving.  The new adversary is called High-Speed Onion Routing at the NETwork Layer, a.k.a. HORNET. As it’s name implies, it works like Tor through onion networks, only it’s much much faster and can be scaled to a size comparable to the Internet. They’re claiming it can reach speeds of up to 93 gigabits per second. It also works at the Network layer so a VPN can be used with it. You should look at this article if you want to see how it works, but I want to focus on the implications of it. The rise of HORNET (Hail Hydra?) is the start of another deep web. Tor has always been known as the dark web, and I expect it to grow for many years to come, but I’m starting to think that Tor will eventually be remembered as the grandfather of the anonymous online underworld. It lays down the foundations for the future. When most people think of Tor, one of the first thoughts that comes to mind is “slow”. Tor is notoriously slow to a crawl. It averts many users from exploring the deep web, for example computer hobbyists that are always racing to build bigger badder machines to reach high network speeds. The HORNET network is the newest answer to that problem. The way I’m looking at it, in the coming years, competitors to Tor will come into the light, building new systems that will offer advantages to all the drawbacks Tor has, with Tor pushing as hard as it can to keep up for many years to come. We’ll see many deep webs come and go, and the user base on them will continue to rise right alongside simplicity and ease of use.

Right now there is a large market for hackers selling virus’ as a service as well as rootkits to low-skill or no-skill would be criminals. Compromised information is a hot commodity. There are even high skilled hackers that sell their expertise to clients. The more users learn how to be script kiddies, the larger the potential impact on information security. The more people are armed with tools to attack, the easier it is to obtain the tools, and the easier it is to use the tools, the more attacks there will be.

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