The FBI’s cybersecurity division has purchased large amounts of Internet data from a little-known Florida-based technology company, Motherboard reports. Team Cymru, which bills itself as a “world leader in cyber threat intelligence,” sells access to bulk web traffic and claims it can give customers access to a “vast majority of all activity on the Internet.” It was previously found to be selling its services to a number of other federal agencies.
Motherboard got into the details of the FBI’s contract with the company via a Freedom of Information Act request. The 4-page FOIA document is heavily edited and doesn’t reveal much about the broader purpose of the Bureau’s data collection. However, it shows that the government paid a total of $76,450 for information gathering in 2017. What the bureau’s cyber department ultimately did with this data isn’t entirely clear, though Motherboard Remarks that the data in question is so-called “netflow” data, which in some cases can allegedly be used to track cybercriminal activities. Companies like Cymru typically buy the data from ISPs and then resell it to law enforcement agencies, according to Motherboard.
The FBI isn’t the first federal agency to be found Team Cymru purchase dates. It was last September reported that several agencies within the US military had spent millions of dollars to acquire a powerful Internet surveillance tool from the Florida company called Augury. According to promotional materials, Augury allows a user to access bulk logs of internet traffic. In some cases, the data provided could include “access to people’s email data, browsing history and other information such as their sensitive internet cookies,” the outlet reported.
Until recently, Cymru also appeared to be in a relationship with a slightly less obvious partner: the internet’s most well-known Privacy BrowserGoal.
In fact, over the past year, Tor users have begun to wonder why the project appeared to have an infrastructure partnership with the creepy Florida company. “Why is Tor hosted on the network by Team Cymru, a data broker known for selling internet backbone data to businesses? [?]”, a forum user questioned, May 2022. The user posted a screenshot that appears to show a DNS lookup of the Tor project dating back to Team Cymru. Another user pointed this out Rabbi Rob Thomasthe company’s CEO, appeared to be a member of the Tor project board of directors.
In October 2022, after Cymru’s contract with the US military became public knowledge, Tor became official announced it would end its partnership with the data broker. Cymru previously provided “hardware and other resources” to the privacy network, according to Tor project executive director Isabela Fernandes. It’s unclear how extensive this partnership was — or what exactly it was used for. Citing “conflicts of interest,” Fernandes announced that Tor no longer “finds it viable to continue accepting infrastructure donations from Team Cymru.”
https://gizmodo.com/team-cymru-fbi-data-collection-internet-surveillance-to-1850269719 FBI Spent Tens of Thousands of Dollars on Bulk Data Collection