What are some secret government organizations

Secret service in the anonymization network: CIA website now accessible via Tor

The US foreign intelligence agency Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) now also provides its own website via the Tor anonymization network. Tor users can connect to this onion service via an .onion address without one of the two endpoints being able to determine the identity of the other - onion services are still more widely known under their old name Tor Hidden Service.

The agency says it wants to give people the opportunity to visit their website securely and anonymously. "We go where the people are," said the CIA's PR chief in a press release.

Anonymous applications and the World Factbook

The CIA website can be reached in the Tor network at the address. This is apparently the same website that is also offered under cia.gov on the World Wide Web.

This page contains general information about the secret service, the CIA World Factbook (a regularly updated, public publication with statistical data on all countries in the world) and a lot of previously classified documents from the Agency's pool. However, you can also contact the CIA via the website - for example, because you want to apply for a job there or because you want to send information to the secret service. The CIA spokeswoman emphasizes that this is now possible anonymously via the Tor network.

Like some other editorial offices in Germany and the USA, the Heise editorial offices also offer a secure mailbox that can be reached as an onion service. The Tor Browser required for this can be downloaded from the Heise download portal. An article by heise Security explains how to set up the software and what you have to consider for safe use. Anyone interested in how the Onion Services (or hidden services) work will find all the details in a background article by heise Security Editor-in-Chief J├╝rgen Schmidt.

Tor and the US government

Visiting the CIA website should not differ from visiting another website in the Tor network if the Tor browser is used correctly. Such a visit, however, harbors the same risks as a visit to cia.gov - you connect your own browser and the underlying system to the servers of a foreign secret service. A secret service whose mission is not just to collect and analyze information about other states and their citizens. The CIA is also charged with carrying out covert operations in other states. Since Edward Snowden at the latest, we have known that this also includes (together with the sister service NSA) spying on other computer systems.

Nevertheless, the official presence of the NSA in the Tor network is something of an accolade for the anonymization network. Although its developers, project manager Roger Dingledine in advance, know that the service is used extensively by law enforcement agencies and government organizations around the world, public commitments to it are rare. Too heavy is the public image of criminals who trade in weapons and drugs and who are up to mischief in the "Darknet" - a term that Dingledine does not like at all, as he emphasized again this year at the FOSDEM conference. The development of the Tor project was mainly paid for by the US Navy and the US government organization DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). So, in the end, it is only logical that organs of the US government should use the technology that their government (albeit indirectly) brought into being. (fab)

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