Smokey's Security Weblog

veritas odium parit

Java Anonymous Proxy (JAP): once a Crook, always a Crook?

Today’s post on DSLReports with subject “JAP” draw my attention.

From Java Anonymous Proxy (JAP) Homepage:

JAP makes it possible to surf the internet anonymously and unobservably.Without Anonymization, every computer in the internet communicates using a traceable Address. That means:

– the website visited,
– the internet service provider (ISP),
– and any eavesdropper on the internet connection

can determine which websites the user of a specific computer visits. Even the information which the user calls up can be intercepted and seen if encryption is not used. JAP uses a single static address which is shared by many JAP users. That way neither the visited website, nor an eavesdropper can determine which user visited which website.

Sound great. Especially because the software and services are free. But after reading the DSLR post my mind about JAP changed.

SUMware mentioned in the DSLR post an 2003 SecurityFocus article about the fact that JAPs anonymity service was (and still is?) back-doored. Sound not good anymore, sound really bad.

Excerpt SF article:

The popular Java Anonymous Proxy (JAP), used to anonymise one’s comings and goings across the Internet, has been back-doored by court order. The service is currently logging access attempts to a particular, and unnamed, Web site and reporting the IP addys of those who attempt to contact it to the German police.

We know this because the JAP operators immediately warned users that their IP traffic might be going straight to Big Brother, right? Wrong. After taking the service down for a few days with the explanation that the interruption was “due to a hardware failure”, the operators then required users to install an “upgraded version” (ie. a back-doored version) of the app to continue using the service.

“As soon as our service works again, an obligatory update (version 00.02.001) [will be] needed by all users,” the public was told. Not a word about Feds or back doors.

Fortunately, a nosey troublemaker had a look at the ‘upgrade’ and noticed some unusual business in it, such as:

“CAMsg::printMsg(LOG_INFO,”Loading Crime Detection Data….\n”);”
“CAMsg::printMsg(LOG_CRIT,”Crime detected – ID: %u – Content:
\n%s\n”,id,crimeBuff,payLen);”

and posted it to alt.2600.

Soon the JAP team replied to the thread, admitting that there is now a “crime detection function” in the system mandated by the courts. But they defended their decision:

“What was the alternative? Shutting down the service? The security apparatchiks would have appreciated that – anonymity in the Internet and especially AN.ON are a thorn in their side anyway.”

Sorry, the Feds undoubtedly appreciated the JAP team’s willingness to back-door the app while saying nothing about it a lot more than they would have appreciated seeing the service shut down with a warning that JAP can no longer fulfill its stated obligation to protect anonymity due to police interference.

A press release from ICPP assures users that JAP is safe to use because access to only one Web site is currently being disclosed, and only under court-ordered monitoring.

But that’s not the point. Disclosure is the point. The JAP Web site still claims that anonymity is sacrosanct: “No one, not anyone from outside, not any of the other users, not even the provider of the intermediary service can determine which connection belongs to which user.”

This is obviously no longer true, if it ever was. And that’s a serious problem, that element of doubt. Anonymity services can flourish only if users trust providers to be straight with them at all times. This in turn means that providers must be absolutely punctilious and obsessive about disclosing every exception to their assurances of anonymity. One doesn’t build confidence by letting the Feds plug in to the network, legally or otherwise, and saying nothing about it.

Telling us that they only did it to help catch criminals isn’t good enough either. Sure, no normal person is against catching criminals – the more the merrier, I say. But what’s criminal is highly relative, always subject to popular perception and state doctrine. If we accept Germany’s definition of criminal activity that trumps the natural right to anonymity and privacy, then we must accept North Korea’s, China’s and Saudi Arabia’s. They have laws too, after all. The entire purpose of anonymity services is to sidestep state regulation of what’s said and what’s read on the basis of natural law.

The JAP Web site has a motto: “Anonymity is not a crime.” It’s a fine one, even a profound one. But it’s also a palpably political one. The JAP project inserted itself, uncalled, into the turbulent confluence between natural law and state regulation, and signaled its allegiance to the former. It’s tragic to see it bowing to the latter.

I don’t know JAPs anonymity service is anno 2008 still back-doored.

Main queustion after the JAP back-doored issue is, can we ever trust JAP again?  My answer is a clear NO. JAP will always have an element of doubt.

SecurityFocus hitted the nail with following remark in the article:

Anonymity services can flourish only if users trust providers to be straight with them at all times. This in turn means that providers must be absolutely punctilious and obsessive about disclosing every exception to their assurances of anonymity. One doesn’t build confidence by letting the Feds plug in to the network, legally or otherwise, and saying nothing about it.

I share SFs opinion. Therefore, stay away from JAP.

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April 26, 2008 - Posted by | Advisories, Alerts, Downloads, Malware, News, Recommended External Security Related Links | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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