TOR, VPN, and Proxy Server: The Team-up that Lead a Hacker Break a Sexual Child Abuse Site

TOR, VPN, and Proxy Server: The Team-up that Lead a Hacker Break a Sexual Child Abuse Site

Just recently, Einar Otto Stangvik, a Norwegian national has busted one of the largest and popular websites that have been feeding any user with sexual abuse of children content.  With a lot of patience, technology-driven mind and a little help from three privacy oriented software namely - TOR, VPN and proxy servers, he has ultimately saved a lot of children from being exploited.

It isn’t the first time that Stangvik has come across with individuals or companies who make use of child abuse content.  His work last 2015 has led to unmasking more than 95,000 user profiles globally exposing the contents they downloaded, may it be in the form of video or photos.

In an interview, Stangvik told how he and his colleagues approached the complicated journey.  He said that they spent a month on figuring out how they would attack the system.  Their main goal isn’t just to uncover who is behind the portal but also where the content came from – producers and those who abuse the children.  Although their efforts lead to a dead end last 2016, the Norwegian hacker has thought of a different way to attack the platform at the beginning of the year.  He then discovered that the upload function of the website isn’t secured through TOR.  After finding this weak spot, he used three tricks to find the IP address of a site. 

The first trick he tried is by using TOR (The Onion Router).  Finding out that servers were just sitting next to each other, he then excluded TOR as the right node.  With TOR eliminated, the next steps will be to test it with VPN and a proxy server like HighProxies.  In this, one will need to check on the time to live values.  Upon analysis, the true IP address was revealed.  It was discovered that the site is under one of Australian police task force.

The website ran for about 11 months wherein even the Australian police have shared malicious content just to investigate and caught users who patronize that type of content.  Information gathered through the website may be helpful.  But the arrest or charge to a certain criminal will still be another issue that is yet to be discussed. 

Stangvik further admitted that child abuse material doesn’t normally reside in the dark net.  It can also be found lingering Google, Facebook, and Youtube. 

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