The FBI Has Been Buying Bulk Internet Data from This Florida Company
The Feds have been purchasing mass amounts of internet data, but what for?
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is known for its law enforcement, especially against cyber attacks by criminals and terrorists. Recently Motherboard reported that the FBI’s cybersecurity department has been buying large quantities of internet data. This data was being purchased from an unknown little company based in Florida. Team Cymru which labels itself as the global leader in cyber threat intelligence sells access to bulk traffic and also informs its clients that it can provide a gateway to a “super majority of all activity on the internet.” Several Federal Agencies have actually bought from them in the past.
Motherboard got the details of the contract the FBI has with the company via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The contract doesn't give much information on the reason why the FBI made the data acquisition. However, in 2017 the government paid a total of $76,450 for the information. What the bureau did with the information remains a mystery. The data in question as reported by Motherboard is called “netflow” data. Apparently, netflow data can be used in tracking cybercriminal activity. Companies such as Cymru access the data by purchasing it from service providers. They then, later on, resell it to law enforcement agencies.
In September it was reported that a number of agencies within the U.S. military spent millions in procuring a powerful internet monitoring tool from the Florida company known as Augury. Looks like the FBI isn't the first federal agency to make a purchase. Augury allows users to access a bulk of internet traffic logs and this includes access to people’s email data and browsing history amongst other information.
It’s a surprising fact that Cymaru also has a relationship with the internet's most well know privacy browser called Tor. This is an uncommon relationship with regard to their other customers. Tor’s users have also been questioning this unfamiliar relationship and they wonder how the two companies relate. One user posted a screenshot showing a DNS lookup of the project Tor has with Team Cymru.
Another user had some suspicions that Rabbi Rob Thomas the CEO of Cymru was also a member of some Tor Project’s board of directors.
The reveal that happened in October 2022 of the contract the U.S. military had with Cymru ceased the relationship Tor had with Cymru. Tor announced that they would be putting a hold on this partnership they had with the data broker. According to Tor, Cymru had been a provider of hardware and other resources to them. The facts of their partnership remain unclear, especially in terms of the activities of the two companies. Fernandes went on to mention that Tor no longer found it necessary to continue accepting the infrastructure donations from Team Cymru.Advertisement