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Tor Users Can Be Tracked Based On Their Mouse Movements (softpedia.com) 109

An anonymous reader writes: The way you move your mouse is unique, like fingerprints, and can be used by dark forces to track you on supposedly anonymous and secure networks like Tor, according to a Barcelona researcher. Because the Tor Project has failed to address a ten-month-old issue regarding "time measurement via JavaScript," there are a series of user fingerprinting techniques that are quite accurate at identifying users based on their mouse movements, scrolling speed, and how their browser and hardware reacts to certain JavaScript code. If a user visits a "fingerprinting" website via Tor and then via a normal browser, an attacker can have a general idea about their identity and can even pinpoint them to real IPs. The data that is usually logged in fingerprinting schemes is not 100% reliable or accurate for that matter, but it provides a starting point for future investigations.
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Tor Users Can Be Tracked Based On Their Mouse Movements

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  • Guess it's time to (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cdsparrow ( 658739 ) on Thursday March 10, 2016 @09:19PM (#51675543)
    Start using a trackpad when you use websites you don't wanna be tracked on. Oh and maybe reduce your browser's processor priority so it reacts differently to their time based snooping. Oh and first post maybe?
    • by bloodhawk ( 813939 ) on Thursday March 10, 2016 @09:23PM (#51675563)
      I would imagine trackpads are vulnerable to the exact same fingerprinting techniques. browser priority is unlikely to have any significant effect on timing and tracking of these events and it would be an absolute pain in the arse.
      • Yeah, not sure if the priority would work unless you also ran something else taking up lots of processor. But if you use a mouse on one set of sites and a trackpad, trackball, or probably just a different DPI setting on your mouse, it would make the pointer tracking hard to pin down...
      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Thursday March 10, 2016 @10:03PM (#51675683)

        I would imagine trackpads are vulnerable to the exact same fingerprinting techniques.

        What Cdsparrow is saying is that you use a trackpad on Tor, and use a mouse for normal browsing. Both can be fingerprinted, but they won't be the same fingerprint. When I want to arrange a major drug deal, or hire an assassin, I use a different computer (a second hand Chromebook that I bought for cash), and I connect through a public WiFi. It has a trackpad, a different browser, and a much slower CPU than my desktop.

        • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @08:28AM (#51676841)

          Obviously you need to change the MAC address. The hard part will be not being caught by cameras. Then do it all scripted. e.g. wake up on time X, run the script that changes the mac, connects, sends the messages, recieves the message, shutdown.

          For future contact I would use Usenet. Encrypt the message, so it is not readable by everybody. As only the receiver should have the key, he or she will be the only one reading it.
          There is no direct link between you and the person receiving it. He could be sitting next to you or on the other side of the world. Post it inside images that others will download for their content in the correct group and they can not follow up on who is downloading it at all. Am I downloading nudes and the hidden message as a result or am I interested in the message and have to download a nude persons image.

          Why scripted? That way when you time it correctly, you can have it in your backpack or pocket or anywhere, while you walk around. If it is cheap enough, you could dump it in the trash, where it will activate at time X, do its thing, turn off and be send to the dump.

          Not sure what the cheapest wireless device would be that could run a decent script to do this and has an auto-on function in its bios.

    • I'd say the solution is to fight fire with fire.

      Javascript is able to catch, and also to trigger, events like mouseclick.

      So, just have a plugin that injects a random delay on mouse click, with a slider.

      BOOM. Fingerprinting busted.

    • Replace your mouse pad with rough sandpaper, randomly rotate sandpaper before a new session. The spooks will be looking for a group of terrorists with Parkinson's disease, plus it keeps your mouse feet clean!
    • So i don't understand yet why one cares about this attack. I can see edge cases but I'm not sure I see the main threat but this may be due to my ignorance about how ToR works.

      Here's the issue. Suppose the user visits the following three web sites.
      1. Mao Mao Mao, via tor, a site secretly run by the chinese military that fingerprints Tor User
      2. Falun Gong Spy Network using tor, but not controlled by the chinese miltary
      3. Communist party phone directory, not on Tor but using fingerprinting.

      So clearly the

      • Who cares? Perverts trying to hide from the FBI after they bust a child porn server and are trying to identify people from the logs.

        And, and people who want to see the perverts burn also care.

        You're right, for freedom of speech under oppressive regimes (the main purpose of Tor) it is not a big deal.

        In your scenario though, you'd care a lot if #2 got busted and they had the server logs. But that is true anyways, the content needs to be in a safe country. That is the whole Tor system. So it is only people doi

    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      Or use the other hand, same strategy as when applying "The Stranger".

    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      Block scripting and don't use Tor like a proxy? Stay on domain names that end with .onion. Don't use it on "clearnet" for anything. Do not let scripting run unless you're damned sure you can trust them or you really want that access. Tor's actually still really safe so long as the user reasonably smart about practicing safe hex. Just because it blocks some things does not mean it blocks everything. The user still needs to watch out for data spillage.

    • I only use Tor on touch sensitive devices anyway
  • Noscript. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sims 2 ( 994794 ) on Thursday March 10, 2016 @09:19PM (#51675549)

    This one of the reasons why they should have never left noscript off by default.

    • Re:Noscript. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jack Griffin ( 3459907 ) on Thursday March 10, 2016 @09:58PM (#51675665)
      Makes no difference, we're all fucked. Technology is now reaching a point where humans cannot compete with machines.
      Your cell phone provider already has enough info to know everywhere you are at any point in time, who your friends and family are, who you call and how often. Google knows all your web habits, and what you hobbies are, and you bank knows every cent you spend, where and on what. And this info is freely bought and sold to marketing companies and other bad actors. It only takes one slip to connect a name to this data and your life is captured on record forever. We need to start preparing for a non-private reality, than try to hang onto any semblance of privacy we think we still have. Even as I type this some algorithm somewhere has already tied my writing style to all my other web aliases and is connecting me to my real identity.
      Privacy is dead.
      • by Ace17 ( 3804065 )
        What a load of crap.
        Your privacy seems to be dead, yeah. That's your problem ; especially if you did it by stupidly giving away private information to random private corporations.

        Just don't believe that we all share your privacy-killing way of life.

        Use Tor, disable javascript by default, only use free-software, don't bring your cellphone everywhere you go (and keep it turned off most of the time), use email encryption, and don't stay logged in gmail/google when you browse the web!

        But maybe, you wo
        • Use Tor, disable javascript by default, only use free-software, don't bring your cellphone everywhere you go (and keep it turned off most of the time), use email encryption, and don't stay logged in gmail/google when you browse the web!

          All of which may seem good advice, but then again, being invisible on the net is such an unusual thing nowadays that this in itself may attract unwelcome attention.

        • Use X, disable Y, only use Z, don't bring A everywhere, use B, and don't stay C

          Oh right, that's freedom right there...

          But maybe, you would prefer that privacy were actually dead, because that would allow you to rationalize that you made the right choices accepting these intrusive behaviours from private corporations, now that you have become dependent on the convenience they provide..

          Oh ok then. Ignore the facts, blame me instead...

      • Your cell phone provider already has enough info to know everywhere you are at any point in time, who your friends and family are, who you call and how often. Google knows all your web habits, and what you hobbies are, and you bank knows every cent you spend, where and on what.

        Actually, if you have an Android phone or if you use Gmail, Google knows all of this.

      • Privacy is dead.

        You're absolutely right, and this is why I (after others) have been railing about how we need to build a society where it doesn't matter if your information comes out rather than worrying about how to keep it private. There's no putting the cat back in the bag, and we're going to either build that society or fail miserably because the tech eliminates all other possibilities.

      • by Falos ( 2905315 )
        You can't win, but you can muck it up. Fortunately, the involved systems will usually be indirectly connected at best, or outright competitors, or the data certainly exists in two piles but the draw'able conclusions from their overlap can't be made because the two data dumps aren't compatible (yet).

        It's kind of like how the last bastion for commoners is the supercompanies (and governments) holding each other back. Or kind of like living with an incurable disease, but one of symptoms you can somewhat resp
  • by Anonymous Coward

    "time measurement via JavaScript,"

    There's like a dozen betters ways to track someone using javascript.

    If a tor user has javascript on, they should assume they're not anonymous.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Absolutely right. I keep seeing stories about how TOR users can be tracked . . . and they always involve javascript . . . what gives? Perhaps the headline should read "javascript users can be tracked by mouse movements?"

      If there was a story about people being tracked by network analysis of TOR traffic, or some other novel means, that would be news.

      1. Use the Tor Browser Bundle to access .onion sites
      2. Check that noscript is set to block all javascript in the Tor Browser. (it might not default to block all)
      3

      • That's really the crux of the issue.

        Frankly, TFS sounds like an anonymous reader's pet bug hasn't gotten the attention he feels it deserves, so he submitted it to Slashdot to make it a bigger deal. Ultimately, though, it boils down to user error.

        Fixing an information leak is effectively making a blacklist for particular attack vectors. It's never going to be complete. The only way to actually ensure that an anonymizing method works is for the user to ensure that he's behaving anonymously. If that means usin

      • Re:Gee Fucking Whiz (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Aighearach ( 97333 ) on Thursday March 10, 2016 @11:35PM (#51675875) Homepage

        Yeah but if you're not on Tor, you're not doing anything illegal and you're not worried about tracking of that sort because normally of course the remote server knows your IP and everything, and there are a zillion potential logs or whatever in the middle.

        If you're on Tor for free speech, of course you don't care because you're not there for privacy; you're there to disguise your activities from local observation of the network. You already have to trust the remote server not to tattle to your government in that case.

        • by Raenex ( 947668 )

          If you're on Tor for free speech, of course you don't care because you're not there for privacy; you're there to disguise your activities from local observation of the network. You already have to trust the remote server not to tattle to your government in that case.

          This comment makes no sense. Of course you want privacy for free speech if you're using TOR, and the whole point of TOR is to prevent the server or anybody else from identifying you.

          • ... the whole point of TOR is to prevent the server or anybody else from identifying you.

            Nope, complete fail. You can just google tor and find out what it is, who funded it, what it is for, all that stuff. You don't have to just go with whatever somebody told you in a chat room.

            • by Raenex ( 947668 )

              The "complete fail" is on your part. First you misunderstand TOR, then you come back with conspiracy theories. You're all over the map.

              • It is a US government-funded thing, sorry. That was the whole point; people who wish they had our laws, can get on Tor and their network experience happens as if they live here. So that they can engage in free speech for political and creative purposes that are banned in their countries.

                It was not invented to hide from the US Gubermint. It was invented for people who wish they had our Freedoms, and all it does is hide their activities from their ISP and State-sponsored firewall. It is up to them to hide the

                • by Raenex ( 947668 )

                  The server would be using for these speech activities would generally be located in some western country in the offices of some ex-pat group from their country, except for where they're just using it to access mainstream international news.

                  But the whole point of TOR is that the server doesn't know who the real TOR user is. So your original statement "You already have to trust the remote server not to tattle to your government in that case." doesn't make any sense.

                  There is no conspiracy theory involved. This is all stuff you would find out if you went and looked it up .

                  I didn't need to look it up because I already knew the origins of TOR. What you don't understand is that while it may have come out of the US government, it's a neutral protocol.

                  As for the technical details of where the logs are expected to be and where not, you didn't actually say anything other than "hurr durr ur wrong."

                  Then follow your own advice and look it up. This is basic info. But here, let me spoon feed you: https://w [torproject.org]

                  • No no no, you have to go read technical documents first, since you don't understand the subject in detail already. Then, after having done that, you'll know which servers to expect to have which information.

                    Where you say "the server doesn't know," you didn't even just reference a specific server. Lets put this in logical terms:

                    Some servers know who Tor users are. Some servers do not know who Tor users are. Therefore, "the server" doesn't know who the Tor user is. T/F

                    Yes, you really do need to look things up

                    • by Raenex ( 947668 )

                      Holy shit, dude, just admit you don't know what the fuck you are talking about. You've got the fog machine on full blast. You made a mistake, you were corrected, deal with it.

    • There's like a dozen betters ways to track someone using javascript.

      It depends if you're tracking them as they browse, or by analyzing the logs afterwards.

  • Good luck catching pedophiles with that.
    • Re:I don't see it. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 10, 2016 @10:02PM (#51675679)

      They don't have to. They just have to parade some "experts" in front of a jury and say they're pretty sure they matched your mouse movement to a pedo. Sort of like how the FBI handles hair analysis. If the government wants you gone, this is just another tool in the toolbox.

      • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

        If the government wants you gone they just use the IRS (or whatever the local variant is called where you live).

        That's how they took down Al Capone.

        • That was needed because the FBI at the time was corrupt but Capone had not thought of bribing the IRS.
          Others such as the scientologists have taken care of that angle as well as the law enforcement angle.
  • You know, there are LOTS of little things that are particular to a particular person that can ID you if tracked. You can be tracked by your farts is the peroper telemitry is in place. Mouse movments? I choose not to be that paranoid.

  • I know nothing, but doesn't The Official Tor Browser have NoScript enabled by default?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Freenet is a bit more paranoid than that. They don't even let the JS tags hit the browser.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The Tor Browser has four "security levels". At the default (low) level, NoScript is set to "allow scripts globally". Now you know.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Thursday March 10, 2016 @09:53PM (#51675645)

    - Change hands every so often
    - Manually alter your mouse's tracking and acceleration settings to different values before starting Tor

  • Ubercookie did a poor job as reconnecting my identities when surfing in normal and private modes. Only two numbers in clientRect match, everything else is different.

  • Well, I guess it's time to write a jitter plugin for Chrome. It's going to make using the browser with jitter enabled sort of like trying to perform a delicate operation after five or six beers, but without the false confidence, or everything's-funny, added benefits of beer...

    The one guy using Tor with Parkinson's is going to have a lot of problems pretty soon.

  • The Tor Browser, by default, does not use any form of javascript.
  • I don't know who's dumb enough to be surprised that any technology can singularly solve a problem as large as privacy.
    Tor solves the network connection problem, moderately well. There's more to privacy than that, and it's ridiculous to expect Tor to solve that all by itself.

    Big surprise! If you use tor to log into facebook, facebook knows who you are! Where's the outrage?!?!

    • If you ... log into facebook, facebook knows who you are! Where's the outrage?!?!

      Actually, I hear people belly-aching about that all the time!

  • I use a laptop. I like my laptop in my lap, my mouse movements probably have 2-3 patterns (just got up, working on the first coffee, been up a while). Then my cat discovers my lap and the laptop moves to some combination of my right leg (stupid cat insists my left leg is the only one worth sleeping on) and my right armchair leg. It changes every time the cat jumps up, as I'm reminded every time I use fingerprint recognition to login.

    When in the office, did I ride my bike to work or drive? Cafeteria o
  • Okay, now that's just creepy and more than a little unsettling.

  • I imagine I would be identified by my hardly using the mouse. I tend to use the keyboard unless I have to use the pointer. In addition, if I had a touchscreen, I would be using that where possible. But the basic fix in the browser is something like we see with Android, but on a per-site basis: if your javascript wants access to timing information, it needs explicit permission.

  • You realize that "noscript" thing that's on by default keeps javascript from running, which in turn keeps javascript from tracking you this way. If requiring intentional disabling of that feature wasn't enough, as i recall, there is a warning about scripts on startup. It's about as well addressed as a vulnerability can be.

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