When using the Tor browser bundle, you load the check.torproject.org on start. It tells you when there is a security update to downloads, and let's you click a link to get it.

The way for users to know it's a legit site is to 'check for the hang lock'. It's there and green, and the certificate info is correct, so the user clicks the link and downloads the browser bundle.

If and NSA runs an exit node, they can by the power of law (may be secret or not yet exist) create fake certificates and bypass browser security. Can they then redirect the data from their own server instead of the one run by the tor project? If so, why can't they secretly serve a Tor browser bundle binary with malicious code and a key logger?

2 Answers 2


The Tor Browser Bundle doesn't pin* the check.torproject.org certificate. So, yes, this is very possible.

But, Martin Martin Martin, the NSA doesn't really need to do that. You already download get your TrueCrypt download link from the official TrueCrypt site via HTTP, same goes for KeePass and tens of other security tools. Actually, they don't even need to do that. They can just intercept your connection when you do your Microsoft updates, or when you run sudo apt-get upgrade, or.. or.. or.

This is how it is. You have to accept it and live with it. Unless you create your own MartinOS and run your own MartinNet, then there's pretty much nothing you can do about it. If they want you, they can have you. Period.

* What is certificiate pinning?

  • Microsoft and apt updates are signed, and not with a CA (at least not for apt). They could not MITM that.
    – forest
    Dec 14, 2017 at 3:57

Yes, they can do both, according to Schneier. The packet injection servers are named QUANTUM, which hijacks the packets going to the legitimate site, and the NSA's fake application server's codename is FOXACID, which can deliver what ever is desired. They have also created programs such as EGOTISTICALGIRAFFE to attack Tor specifically.

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