Senior computer science major David Yip knowingly installed the Tor onion router, a tool that allows for anonymous internet browsing that is published by the Free Haven Project and Electronic Frontier Foundation. The tool reroutes internet traffic across a network of 'onion' nodes, making it hard to track its origins. It's website advertises that: "Your traffic is safer when you use Tor."
But it fails to mention that also goes for hackers who use the tool.
In Yip's case a hacker used Tor to launch an attack against a French company, defacing its website and taking over mail servers to send out 'vulgar emails'. The attack was traced back to Yip's computer, but there the track dropped dead.
Now Yip is in a truckload of trouble. The university has suspended his internet connection and is investigating if further action should be taken.
Anonymous surfing tools might be great to secure free speech, anyone using them should also realise that criminals tend to use the same tools in their efforts to cover their tracks. As a computer engineer to be, Yip should have known better.
The case should make a strong argument for a mandatory course in computer security skills and ethics at the university.
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