Australian police hacked US Tor users to get child porn site owner

A report by Motherboard showed that Australian cops hacked into the activity of US TOR users as part of a widespread child porn investigation. The investigation saw the IP addresses of more than 30 Americans turned over to the FBI.

Australian police hacked US Tor users to get child porn site ownerThe police had knowledge of who the owner of the dark web child porn site which was called “The Love Zone” since he started all of his messages with the word “hiyas.” After searching for the word on the browser, the results brought up 45,000 hits and the police managed to bring it down to an important few who identified the owner of the child porn site. The offender is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence for evil and depraved sex offenses.

The police took hold of the account for the Love Zone site, and they were now able to see all the activity in the TOR-hidden site. They could read all the private messages on the site, but they were limited in their ability to view the IP addresses of the users.

The Queensland Police Service Taskforce Argos ran the account for six months, and there were no results so they eventually resorted to social engineering. The cops sent out a child porn video as bait.

A court filing which was filed in October 2015 gave account of how the Australian police had managed to get hold of the true IP addresses. The court filing said that when the video was sent out and users wanted to click on it, they received messages which told them that the video they were trying to get was hosted on an external website.

If they decided to follow on, the video file which contained the child pornography images would begin to play, and thus the law enforcement agencies would capture their IP addresses. The agency had configured the video to open on an Internet connection outside the network software which allowed them to get hold of the IP addresses.

Another court filing showed that the exercise had brought up IP addresses of more than 30 American registered users which had then been turned over to the FBI. The issue at the moment is not that the IP addresses were turned over to the FBI but rather how they were obtained and if it was legal or not.

Some US judges rule that using TOR does not give users IP address privacy and others have argued that using any slick methods to obtain the IP address is a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment Rights.

The FBI did not mention on the Love Zone case in particular but in a statement said that the agency always looked to foster strategic partnerships with other foreign law enforcement agencies through various methods such as sharing knowledge, experience, capabilities and exploring the joint operational opportunities.