CISA – Defending Against Malicious Cyber Activity Originating from Tor

CISA – The US Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency have released through the National Cyber Awareness System an advisory highlighting risks associated with Tor (the Onion Router).

This advisory uses the MITRE Adversarial Tactics, Techniques, and Common Knowledge (ATT&CK®) and Pre-ATT&CK framework. See the ATT&CK for Enterprise and Pre-ATT&CK frameworks for referenced threat actor techniques.

This advisory—written by the Cybersecurity Security and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) with contributions from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)—highlights risks associated with Tor, along with technical details and recommendations for mitigation. Cyber threat actors can use Tor software and network infrastructure for anonymity and obfuscation purposes to clandestinely conduct malicious cyber operations.[1],[2],[3]

Tor (aka The Onion Router) is software that allows users to browse the web anonymously by encrypting and routing requests through multiple relay layers or nodes. This software is maintained by the Tor Project, a nonprofit organization that provides internet anonymity and anti-censorship tools. While Tor can be used to promote democracy and free, anonymous use of the internet, it also provides an avenue for malicious actors to conceal their activity because identity and point of origin cannot be determined for a Tor software user. Using the Onion Routing Protocol, Tor software obfuscates a user’s identity from anyone seeking to monitor online activity (e.g., nation-states, surveillance organizations, information security tools). This is possible because the online activity of someone using Tor software appears to originate from the Internet Protocol (IP) address of a Tor exit node, as opposed to the IP address of the user’s computer.

CISA and the FBI recommend that organizations assess their individual risk of compromise via Tor and take appropriate mitigations to block or closely monitor inbound and outbound traffic from known Tor nodes.

Click here for a PDF version of this report.