Freedom Hosting which hosted a number of "hidden services" on Tor, ranging from Tormail (which allows anonymous email communication) to.. well, Really Bad Stuff that you don't want to know about. Basically.. Law Enforcement (LE) appear to have discovered the real-world location of these servers on the other side of Tor and have busted the alleged operator.
What gets interesting is that some of these Tor services were infected with an injection script that attempted to reveal the real IP address of the the visitor through a security flaw in the version of Firefox in the Tor Bundle. There's an interesting analysis of the script here and the long and the short of it is that the injected code attempt to call back to 126.96.36.199, in order to track the Tor users involved.
So.. who is 188.8.131.52? Well, it seems to be a Verizon Business IP (part of a "ghost block" of 184.108.40.206/29) in the Washington DC area. You know.. the home of several government agencies or branches thereof. But now the Internet is awash with rumours that this IP address belongs to the NSA. But what evidence is there?
A lot of the fuss seems to have happened because of this tweet from Baneki Privacy Labs.
SAIC (apparently not the SAIC who own MG Motors!) and that SAIC are connected to the DoD. Although SAIC are certainly a military contractor, the error that they are making is to believe the report from DomainTools which appears to be misinterpreting the allocations in that particular block.
So, does SAIC (listed here as SCIENCE APPLICATIONS INT) own the whole /24? No. Verizon has simply allocated the first /28 in that block to SAIC, and it appears the DomainTools is misinterpreting that data.
NetRange: 220.127.116.11 - 18.104.22.168
Comment: Addresses within this block are non-portable.
CustName: SCIENCE APPLICATIONS INT
Address: 47332 EAGAN MCALLISTER LN
Address: RM 1112 1st fl
City: LEXINGTON PARK
Other suballocations is that block do include government agencies, but just a couple of IPs away from the mystery IP is 22.214.171.124/29 which belongs to an industrial supply company called Universal Machines. Whoever uses 126.96.36.199 is very likely to be a corporate or government entity, but really that's pretty much all you can tell from the Verizon Business IP. DomainTools is great but as with any automated tool.. sometimes you need to double-check what it reports back.
But then Baneki make another claim.. that obviously 188.8.131.52 belongs to the NSA, because the NSA controls the entire 184.108.40.206/11 range (220.127.116.11 to 18.104.22.168) which is about 2 million IPs.
It may surprise you to learn that law enforcement officers and intelligence agencies are not normally complete fucking idiots when it comes to guarding their IP addresses. They do not (for example) sign up to Silk Road with their @fbi.gov email addresses or poke around the underweb from an NSA IP address range. Well, not normally..
I am not saying that the injection wasn't the work of the NSA. Or the CIA, FBI, DOD, IRS or another other Alphabet Soup Agency. But let's see some real evidence first, eh?
UPDATE: I had a closer look at the users of the /24 here. It's a mix of businesses and government organisations and contractors, not surprising given the physical location of the /24.