While Tor “was originally developed with the U.S. Navy in mind, for the primary purpose of protecting government communications … it is used every day for a wide variety of purposes by normal people, the military, journalists, law enforcement officers, activists, and many others,” according to the Tor Project site.
In attempting to infiltrate Tor, the NSA used its ability to tap into undersea fiber-optic cables, monitored Tor traffic to identify users’ patterns in the hopes of identifying them and tried to take advantage of vulnerabilities in the software used to access the network, according to The Guardian.
The Guardian article notes that Tor cloaks its users’ location, “meaning any attack” by an intelligence agency “could be hitting members of Tor's substantial US user base.”
The NSA’s attempt to crack Tor is an example of its “ongoing effort to takeover the Internet,” Amie Stepanovich, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s Domestic Surveillance Project, told us.
While “it is impossible to trust any surveillance-proof technology 100 percent … companies like Tor do make your communications more secure, as demonstrated by the released documents,” she said.