The CIA announced Tuesday that it was launching its own dark web website to collect intelligence tips, calling the site its “latest layer.”
“Our global mission demands that individuals can access us securely from anywhere. Creating an onion site is just one of many ways we’re going where people are,” said Brittany Bramell, CIA’s director of Public Affairs.
In a press release, the CIA described the website as “secure, anonymous, [and] untraceable” and noted that the onion site was housed on the Tor [The Onion Router] network. Interestingly, the organizations the CIA is keeping tabs on also use the Tor network, including terrorists and criminals. However, Stephanie Whited, communications director for the Tor Project, believes the CIA’s move to Tor is not only positive but the logical next step for the intelligence agency.
“We believe onion services are a key next step in securing the web, similar to the standardization of https as more secure configuration thanHTTP, so it that sense, it is not a surprise that the CIA would want to take advantage of the privacy and security protections that onion services provide,” Whited told Motherboard. “Tor software is free and open source, and so anyone can use it, including the CIA.”
The onion website doesn’t just serve as a way for individuals to contact the agency anonymously (though the onion site does provide more information about how to report intelligence tips to the CIA), the CIA is replicating every resource available on CIA.gov on the new site. Available resources include the World Factbook and job applications.
Its new onion website isn’t the CIA’s only recent move to join the 21st century. On April 18 the agency announced that it would be joining Instagram and made its first post on April 25. In less than a month, it has amassed more than 100,000 followers.