Tor Developer Suspects NSA Interception of Amazon Purchase

January 25th, 2014
Updated 01/26/2014 at 7:13 am

Andrea Shepard, a Seattle-based core developer for the Tor Project, suspects her recently ordered keyboard may have been intercepted by the NSA.

Following the purchase of a new IBM Thinkpad Keyboard from, Shepard discovered her package to be taking a strange detour to the East Coast, revealed by a screenshot of her shipment tracking information.

You’d think #NSA shipment ‘interdiction’ would be more subtle…

— Andrea (@puellavulnerata) January 24, 2014


Instead of shipping straight towards Seattle from the Amazon storage warehouse in Santa Ana, California, Shepard’s package made its way clear across the country to Dulles, Virginia. Jumping around an area deep inside what some privacy experts refer to as America’s “military and intelligence belt,” the package was finally delivered to its new endpoint in Alexandria.

While not uncommon to see packages sent to major shipping hubs in different areas of the country, the “out for delivery” and successful “delivered” statuses clearly indicate the item’s final destination was changed without Shepard’s approval, leading privacy experts to take notice.

“Could Amazon have made a mistake in notifying Shepard about this extra journey, which was likely meant to stay a secret?” PrivacySOS asks. “If this really is an example of the TAO laptop-interception program in action, does this mean that companies like Amazon are made aware of the government’s intention to “look after” consumer products ordered by their customers? Or did Shepard receive this weird notice only after some sort of glitch in the NSA’s surveillance matrix?”

According to recently revealed internal NSA documents, the agency’s Office of Tailored Access Operations group, or TAO, is responsible for intercepting shipping deliveries of high-interest targets.

“If a target person, agency or company orders a new computer or related accessories, for example, TAO can divert the shipping delivery to its own secret workshops,” Der Speigel noted last month. “At these so-called ‘load stations,’ agents carefully open the package in order to load malware onto the electronics, or even install hardware components that can provide backdoor access for the intelligence agencies.”

Given the NSA’s deep interest in Tor, a popular online anonymity tool, some speculate Shepard’s keyboard could likely have been implanted with a TAO bug known as “SURLYSPAWN,” a small keylogging chip implanted in a keyboard’s cabling. According to NSA slides, a bugged keyboard can be monitored even when a computer is offline.

“If it ever shows, I’ll be inspecting it as closely as I’m capable of,” Shepard said on Twitter.

Other leaked documents have revealed the NSA’s repeated attempts at identifying users of Tor, which according to the agency’s “Tor Stinks” presentation has only received minor success at best.

“We will never be able to de-anonymize all Tor users all the time,” the presentation states. “With manual analysis we can de-anonymize a very small fraction of Tor users.”

Whether Shepard’s incident was the result of a simple error by Amazon, an NSA interception, or an act of intimidation is still unclear. Given the government’s history of targeting Jacob Appelbaum, Tor’s main advocate, the idea of a top Tor developer being singled out for advanced NSA surveillance is far from unlikely.

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Category: Internet Freedom, Privacy, US

About the Author ()

Mikael is the lead features writer at His articles have been featured on sites such as the Drudge Report, Infowars and Natural News. During his time at, he was frequently ranked the number one political writer.

Comments (146)

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  1. freedomfannn says:

    This is a heads up to Andrea ( who received the diverted, hacked and redirected ) keyboard. Located only 2 miles from the Washington " Dulles " airport ( in Virginia ) is one of the ' 16 ' U.S. Intelligence agencies. The little know agency is called the NRO , National Reconnaissance Office. They are very closely connected to the NSA and the CIA . Their primary ( on the books ) function is designing, building and operating " SPY " equipment , primarily spy satellites. They obviously have the wherewithal to design, produce and install ( micro – sized ) electronic " surveillance / monitoring " equipment into your keyboard. By the way ( i'm sure you know, but many of the the readers may not ) they now have equipment that can CAPTURE / STEAL , your wireless information transmitted via the ( Wifi connection to your laptop ) from directional radio signal receiver equipment. Usually located in a mobile surveillance vehical. Keep up the good fight, we need all the Andrea's we can get.

  2. Roger says:

    One company, one industry at a time…. they steal one small freedom, one small right to privacy.

    And the media pretends nothing is happening.

    This is Germany 1939.

  3. Very interesting, only a few months back I ordered a new CPU for my computer from Amazon and when I received it I found out that the AMD sticker on the side of the box had been cut meaning that someone had possibly tampered with it. Although the CPU worked fine you never know what could have have happened to it.

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  11. goafenny says:

    i wish some expert check my thinkpad e540 for any spying by nsa, i just bought 7 days back through my roommates amazon account . My hero richard stallman personal website has blacklisted amazon and this article was linked as a reason. Here is is the link for your info

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  18. Wow thanks for the information, it would be useful for us. Now we know that we are spied by them :(

  19. developer says:

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  20. IBM Thinkpad my choice but i don't have experience with IBM

  21. oooooo says:

    Is there any proof of this ? Did you find the implant ? Is the firmware checksum different from other thinkpads of the same model. You need a bit more proof. And WTF is a Tor dev ordering from Amazon from ? Really come on. Have some sense.

  22. Nick says:

    Almost all Virginia packages are routed through Dulles it's because of Dulles Airport and the nearby mail facility lol how did she not realize that is she new to Virginia or something? I order MANY items from many different stores every week and almost every single one of them arrives via Dulles Airport, is sent to the Dullers postal facility and then is sent to my local office in Manassas, VA.

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  28. whoknowsU says:

    Have you been there to tell us about?

  29. whoknowsU says:

    I don't have a schedule, I'm self employed and doing well no matter what the economy does.

  30. whoknowsU says:

    I have my own site, I'm on disqus.

  31. JethroBilly says:

    disqus is where all the debaters are now. Running around on ID sites that only have about 30 posters combined seems futile. What is debating the same old people every day on small sites going to accomplish? If you're looking to make a stand for your cause go to CNN and duke it out with the thousands of bloggers there. Why hide on the small sites? Grow a set and jump in the pit!!
    Your ID account will be nice and safe away from it for further use down the road. If you're not willing to duke it out where the action is then you're ineffective for your cause.

  32. whoknowsU says:

    disqus is the place to be.

  33. whoknowsU says:

    This site is a good site, you are the derailer of all comments.

  34. whoknowsU says:

    Well it's news time, see you tomorrow, hope you keep on blabbering, I need a good laugh one in a while.

  35. Mr. Liberty says:

    Don't get me wrong. We need to protect America's cyber space, it is where we are most vunerable to devestation. China has a branch of their military solely devoted towards Cyber Warfare.

    But you and me both know that these people are not being recruited to protect America. The NSA has yet to prove that they are protecting America and they are yet to disprove they are abusing their powers.

    Audit the NSA immediately.

  36. Mr. Liberty says:

    I'm not suprised at all. Ever heard of Doug Hagmann Wee?

  37. Mr.Lincoln says:

    No audit. Kill it. They have been profiling Americans since 1999. Never trust government or Bureaucrats for your safety. Never! That is a myth by the police state!

  38. Mr. Liberty says:


  39. WeeToddEdwards says:

    Sure have.

    Ever hear back from the mods on our comments being deleted?

  40. Mr.Lincoln says:

    Here is more propaganda for indoctrinating our youth!

    New Cartoon Brainwashes Kids In To Accepting Drone Spying

  41. Mr. Liberty says:

    No I have not heard anything yet.

    Hagmann's sources seem extremely legit. It is very scary and accurate as far as DHS and the NSA.

    A little refresher from Dec. 2012.

  42. Mr. Liberty says:

    Aww the ladybugs are soo cute and friendly. F ing BS.

  43. WeeToddEdwards says:

    Thanks for the link.

    How was your weekend Mr. Liberty?

    -35 here today with windchills

  44. Mr. Liberty says:

    It was good man, the weather was perfect until last night. Its snowing here now, not quite as cold as you though, suckas.

    How was your weekend?

  45. WeeToddEdwards says:

    Yep and the weakest (like you) wil lbe the first to be dragged to a FEMA camp.

  46. WeeToddEdwards says:

    Sure is

  47. Roger says:

    Will I? Not if tea party folks can stop the fems camps being used.

    Why give up and wait for the revolution you seem to hope for?

  48. WeeToddEdwards says:

    Yes, you will. The tea party will be the first to go.

    Well please enlighten us on how much they have got accomplished to stop these camps.

    Links or sources would be nice.

  49. patriothere says:

    tea party kooks don't care about the poor being thrown into fema camps. or muslims or jews.

  50. WeeToddEdwards says:

    Where do you fit in? You try to eliminate free speech by having comments pulled. Free Speech is one of the things that makes this country great:

    Roger 165p • 6 minutes ago
    No, you know I'm not for the things that made this country great.

  51. patriothere says:

    lol! conservative christians want god in charge. the framers put the people in charge

  52. Roger says:

    It might, or you might find that the tea party won't go away.
    It is the normal folks that are waking up and not liking 'muslim friend red'

  53. WeeToddEdwards says:

    Revolution is what made this country great. It wil take that again. Millions of Americans are ready an. You willing to die to protect our freedoms. You hate that, you try and eliminate free speech and have comments pulled.

    You're no American

  54. WeeToddEdwards says:

    They have fallen under the radar and most Americans are turned off by tea bagger folks. Just like the ocuturds. All both movments accomplished was more divide

  55. WeeToddEdwards says:

    We had a revolution to break free from the British. Our government has no become the thing it's not suppose to be.

    Quit trying to pull your religious BS into this

  56. WeeToddEdwards says:

    Good for him. What has he accomplished though? I like the guy I really do, but he has accomplished nothing

  57. WeeToddEdwards says:

    Creator is open to endless possibilities. My parents were my creators.

    Our government almost has full power over us.

    This is not a relgious discussion. Stay on topic

  58. WeeToddEdwards says:

    Really? Changed dialogue huh?

    obama is still in charge and our government is corrupt.

    So he has done nothing

  59. WeeToddEdwards says:

    Considering our Founding Fathers were diests and pretty much did not like your relgion (all one has to do is read their quotes) your comment is invalid.

    "Are you here to torment unrest and push towards revolution for some sharia justice style goal? "

    No rog, I am here to comment with like minded people, you make sure that does not happen.

    You have been corrected

  60. patriothere says:

    I realize your muslim friendly loyalties have a different spin on Creator since you can't admit it was a Judeo-Christian Creator that the founding fathers (from a Christian realm) understood.'

    They didn't like that god. lol!

  61. WeeToddEdwards says:

    Good for him. So the three people who still listen to radio support him.

    obama is still in charge and our government is corrupt.

    So he has done nothing

  62. patriothere says:

    Obama doesn't have fox news. They blast him all the time

  63. Mr. Liberty says:

    Divide by design. If we take an honest look at what both movements were trying to accomplish we would see that both movements had and still have very similar positions. It is the media that has divided the two groups. Just imagine if both groups united politically. Look out scumbag Washington.

  64. Mr. Liberty says:

    Haha nice. Did they enjoy the movie as much as you did? Haha jk

  65. Mr. Liberty says:

    Roger, when are you going to realize that we need to all unite, put aside our differences and defeat the real enemy at hand, the globalists. They do not care if one is liberal, Muslim, conservative, or Christian. They hate mankind. We are all the same them.

  66. Mr. Liberty says:

    I am a tea partier and I don't think any of that should happen. I think the corrupt scum of DC and Wall Street should be thrown into the camps though.

  67. Mr. Liberty says:

    I am a Christian and God is in charge of my life. That does not mean that I think God should be in charge of the US government. Please read the link attached. This will provide my stance in a nut shell. ROGER and WEE read this too my friends. Mr. Lincoln, I am sure that you will agree with 90% of this article. Enjoy.

  68. WeeToddEdwards says:

    A lot of these kids movies have some adult themes in now a days. Wasn't to bad

  69. Roger says:

    Propaganda is like that.

  70. Mr.Lincoln says:

    It is well thought out and purposeful stuff!

  71. Alinsky Hero USA says:

    Al Frankin is doing a lot of work in this area. The conservatives created the problem.

  72. rogre says:

    Says the guy with the bushy little mustache.

  73. Mr. Liberty says:

    Not at all, I'm not even surprised that all our comments have been deleted from yesterday…

  74. WeeToddEdwards says:

    I know, it's getting old though. Here is my take on it. Someone does not want us to discuss issues that face our country. They want to emlinate free speech. Who ever is reporting them is Un-American

  75. WeeToddEdwards says:

    Makes me sick

  76. WeeToddEdwards says:

    Sounds like something he would do

  77. Alinsky Hero USA says:

    Well my comments are still here. But then again, Roger is off line.

  78. rogre says:

    You haven't got the first clue what debate is, much less discussion. You're a Storyleak virus, and I'm the cure.

  79. Roger says:

    Alinsky, you do this here and comment on another site at the very same time.

    You're not the cure, you're the disease. How again has marx made the world a better place again?

    More have been murdered due to his teachings than any other reason.

    And my comments are still up. So, you're not solving a thing.
    Do you realize when Wee leaves you as the weekend troll that the posse isn't leaving it's A team out for the world to see?

  80. Rogre says:

    What the hell does that mean?

  81. Rogre says:

    I doubt Roger ever made cocktail waitresses two at a time.

  82. Alinsky Hero USA says:

    His private life is not your concern. There are dating sites for sexual stalkers like you.

  83. Rogre says:

    Name one Marxist government that ever saved us from Islamists like you. You are just here to push your atheist agenda. There is a real issue here you know.

  84. Alinsky Hero USA says:

    You small little Rogre thing , you. Facts don't agree with you.

  85. Rogre says:

    You are just here to stop real debate. I am a seriously a serious mind here to discuss serious issues with serious people, seriously.

  86. Alinsky Hero USA says:

    Says the guy working from his work terminal.

  87. Rogre says:

    Alinsky, you don't get to define me.

  88. Rogre says:

    You still have nothing to say and refuse to use the appropriate space when not saying it.

    You really do use that alinsky rules for radicals. And you still make no more sense than he did.

  89. Alinsky Hero USA says:

    That was my comment.

  90. Roger Dodger says:

    Good going Roger.

    This was a good little website, that showed a lot of promise.

    You just caused another one to go right down the tubes.

  91. Alinsky Hero USA says:

    Yes I do. Remember when I said you should have had sex with a woman at your age?

  92. Roger Dodger says:

    …..and mine.

  93. Roger Dodger says:

    You are the thief Roger.

    Stealing everyones comments.

  94. Alinsky Hero USA says:

    You stole my comment.

  95. Alinsky Hero USA says:

    I already posted that comment.

  96. Alinsky Hero USA says:

    The Nazis came to power in 1933. Google it.

  97. Alinsky Hero USA says:

    The night of broken glass, and the fire in the legislature building happened in 1933.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Google it.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  98. patriothere says:

    Nobody cares! You are a troll! Piss off!

  99. Alinsky Hero USA says:

    Germany cam to power in 1933. Not 1939 you idiot.

  100. WeeToddEdwards says:

    Now that was classic

  101. Roger Dodger says:

    Roger, just because you ate at a Burger King once, does not mean that you are the King.

  102. WeeToddEdwards says:

    Yes most adults do. Too bad you hate discussion and have comments pulled you communist POS

  103. Alinsky Hero USA says:

    That's my comment. You cut and pasted it from me.

    My avatar is none of your business.

  104. WeeToddEdwards says:

    Well if he is the one pulling comments then why do you have mine pulled?

    Yes I have been on contact wth moderator about comments being deleted and getting you removed from this site

  105. Roger says:

    I'm not the pos coward you little man.

    Isn't your posse working the way you expected it to?

    You notice all the other comments on this story are gone? Alinsky picked them off one at a time until he had them all gone. and the site administrator knows it.

  106. WeeToddEdwards says:

    YOu admitted you had my comments pulled. So yes you are the POS coward

  107. WeeToddEdwards says:

    YOu are part of the comment pulling posse

  108. Roger Dodger says:

    What would you know about cool? You have never been cool in your life.

    You are so full of crap, there should be flush handles where your ears are.

  109. WeeToddEdwards says:

    I don't pull comments. You do, that makes you part of teh comment pulling posse even if you don't like tham

  110. WeeToddEdwards says:

    I don't have a posse. You have been having my comments so that puts you in th same boat as the rest of them. I don't care if it's Alinsky, whoknowsu, or the many other people on this site who hate you. Pulling comments needs to stop. Stop reporting my comments.

  111. Roger says:

    Wee, why lie? You have been coordinating off forum with the others for a couple of years now.

  112. Rogre says:

    Nice mustache. Looks way better than that old Adolph you used to have.

  113. Roger says:

    They didn't seize power right away, the first few years they worked within the legal system and even won elections. Google it.

  114. Alinsky Hero USA says:

    Nope. They Nazis seized power right away and executed all their political rivals in the fist year. Google it.

  115. Roger says:

    They didn't seize power until after the night of broken glass, and the fire in the legislature building.

    They did all sorts of tricks to tie up any reforms to help until the opposition was helpless.

    Google won't help you as much as some other sources.

  116. Alinsky Hero USA says:

    You said they didn't seize power right away. They did, In 1933. You can check it on google.

    But it looks like you reframed the debate because you lost.

  117. Alinsky Hero USA says:

    Your comment doesn't make sense. You are being vague on purpose. It is what you always do when you lose on the facts. You try to distrat and reframe and made vague comments that don't mean anything to the debate.

    You lost. You are really bad at history. You don't have an education.

    You said it was Germany 1939. Yet It was in 1933 that the Nazis to power and started taking over their own industries.

  118. whoknowsU says:

    Yes he did, on Gilligan island.
    The wheels are missing, LOL

  119. Roger says:

    There was a time when adults came here for serious discussion.

    You trolls sure did find that threatening.

  120. Guest says:

    I concur.

    That begs the question. Why then are you here?

    Why don't you slither over to Breitbart, and bother them?

  121. sbj1964 says:

    So is your stalker Roger.

  122. WeeToddEdwards says:

    Boy you got that right. He is busted to. Each thread he leaves a comment on, my comment gets pulled right before he leaves one.

  123. Roger says:

    Why are you here, are you off Ray's site where you attack Christianity daily for things it's not?

    You usually only follow the posse around as a last resort effort. Are they failing so badly here?

  124. WeeToddEdwards says:

    You see he don't get. No one wants him on this site. People are tired of him having comments pulled

  125. Roger says:

    So, is this a good time for you to tell everyone about your thousands of rounds of ammo?

  126. Roger says:

    (_o_) (_?_)

  127. WeeToddEdwards says:

    They sure did.

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