Compliance Management, Network Security, Privacy

Tor alleges FBI paid Carnegie Mellon $1M to hack hidden services

The Tor Project is alleging that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) paid Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers $1 million to attack Tor's hidden services last year.

The attack appears to have indiscriminately targeted several users at once and not just those suspected of criminal activity, Tor said in a Nov. 11 post adding there is no indication that a warrant was used. “Apparently these researchers were paid by the FBI to attack hidden services' users in a broad sweep, and then sift through their data to find people whom they could accuse of crimes,” the post said.

Tor said in the post that it encourages independent research on its software and network, but this attack crossed the line between research and endangering innocent users. 

Vice's Motherboard reported that court documents revealed an academic institution, believed to be CMU's Software Engineering Institute, assisted the FBI in the arrest of a Silk Road 2.0 staff member as well as child porn suspects.

The institution reportedly provided the FBI with IP addresses as well as the servers of several dark web sites. reached out to CMU for a comment to which they declined. has attempted to contact Tor for comment but they have yet to respond.

UPDATE: An FBI spokesperson contacted and denied the claims that it paid CMU to hack into Tor. 

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