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If DARPA created the internet aren't there are all sorts of backdoors and systems we don't know about built in? I've never really understood - if you can - those fundamentals.

Well, the thing about the internet is that it's completely open: implementers work off of specifications. If you're curious what sort of back doors might be in the specifications, you can read them all at ietf.org (although there are a lot of them). How they're implemented varies from one implementation to the next, but they _have_ to follow the specification, or else they won't be compatible with other implementations, leaving little room for "secret" back doors in the specifications themselves.

Privacy and encryption schemes operating over the Internet already assume hostile actors can see your traffic at any or all points between your device and the other end, so that's not an added concern (and yes, lots of entities are snooping on every single thing they can, to be clear). Beyond that, it's just public protocols. Any holes or inadequacies in those that allow monitoring or eavesdropping are well-known and are why privacy and encryption schemes for Internet-enabled software exist in the first place.

All that really remains is that one or more governments have secretly broken essentially all crypto. Which is possible, I guess, but unrelated to their developing the Internet. There's a non-zero chance there are shenanigans going on with some root cert servers for SSL encryption, which require trust for their related identity-assurance schemes to work properly, but again, that's not related to government development of the Internet.

Not that it matters, but if you're worried DARPA funded the internet you should be more worried Radio Free Asia (founded by the CIA during the Cold War and currently funded by the US government) funds Tor development right now.

I don't think this means there are back doors. I did find it amusing Jacob Applebaum hung around in Berlin pretending to be in exile because of American repression while being paid a $100,000 salary by the State Department, funneled indirectly through the military industrial complex.

Source: https://pando.com/2014/07/16/tor-spooks/ (I think Pando's core facts are correct but some of their conclusions are overblown)

Edit: mixed up CIA and State Dept

You should read up on the history of the internet. ARPA was funding researchers who ended up creating what we call the internet today. This doesn't mean it was "ordered" by Pentagon or something of that sort. Most of the ideas came from individuals acting on their own accord.

Very aware of the history of the ietf public internet, and the US Military Network (MILNET) for Unclassified traffic Defense Secure Network One (DSNET 1) for Secret traffic Defense Secure Network Two (DSNET 2) for Top Secret traffic Defense Secure Network Three (DSNET 3) for Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI).

What sort of backdoors does that history make you suspect?

Something at a progenitor level that no one is aware of but which is called by certain actions

Implemented in hardware? Software? Protocol flaws? By ISPs? By other infrastructure operators?

The Internet protocols are all public and are developed by IETF, not DARPA.


The Internet is operated by Internet service providers, not DARPA. The U.S. government role in directly operating the Internet ended in 1995 with the shutdown of NSFNet. The ISPs buy hardware from private companies that implement the public Internet protocols.

That doesn't mean that there aren't backdoors of various kinds in Internet infrastructure, but whatever backdoors exist aren't likely to exist by virtue of DARPA's role in funding the original research.

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