Tor network is considered to be a main tool for achieving network anonymity. But it is of common knowledge, that Tor was created by programmers in US Navy. Yet the main "spy" on the net is considered to be NSA, another "department" in US Government.

What are the reasons to believe that Tor doesn't just log all the connections to it's assigned "anonymous" IP, and that every person using Tor is identified to an interested party (For creators, for example).

My question is about Tor basis of operation, and how it ensures that the "mapping" of real IP to Tor IP isn't being provided to NSA or other party related to Tor creators?

  • "... that Thor was ..." ^_^
    – user49075
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 12:09
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    You forgot your tinfoil hat, sir.
    – Lighty
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 12:14
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    You can verify that the distributed code for Tor relays does not log. But you cannot verify that actual relays do not log. Some certainly do. But for this issue it doesn't matter who created Tor, but who runs relays. Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 12:20
  • @CodeInChaos, thank you. I think that basically answers my question about architectural security of Tor. You can post it as an asnwer and I'll approve it as a correct one. Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 12:47
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    The NSA created/helped to create IPTables. I rest my case. Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 0:27

1 Answer 1


Strictly speaking, computers are deterministic systems, and thus are not "tainted" by the virtues or vices of whoever is on the other side of the keyboard. That a given piece of software is written by, say, a member of the Illuminati, does not imply that running the software necessarily opens a gateway to Hell.

However this does raise an interesting question: how can you make sure that a piece of software is correct, i.e. fulfils its purported role ? It so happens that we don't really know how to do that. There are people working on it; it is possible to prove some programs, and to write programs that are both useful and provable; but it takes considerable effort. See this question for some discussion. The raw result is that we rely, instead, on indirect criteria, e.g. who wrote the software and what were his motivations.

And, in that case, nobody in the US Navy ever said: "We created Tor to lure people into our web of heavy spying because we sincerely believe that the greatest threat we face is basement-dwelling geeks ranting on what they think to be politics, instead of, say, enemy submarines full of nuclear warheads." So all that remains are hollow speculations.

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    Thank you Tom. My question was about technical aspect. Is it possible by design for those who create Tor to map Tor IPs to real Tor user IP. As far as I know now thanks to @CodeInChaos, it is possible. Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 14:11
  • Security software should not be about phylosophy of wherther we whould worry about someone spying on us, but to provide a solid foundation for us to be sure that this is a vessel of anomimity, that we are using here. Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 14:12

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