The Tor network hides your identity by moving your Internet activity through different Tor servers. It allows anonymity and security for anyone trying to control their activity, such as government, hackers and advertisers. Tor is also a gateway to the “Deep Web” or “Dark Web”, which looks more frightening than it is. In fact, the Deep Web comprises most of the Internet.
The Deep Web is made up of sites that have not registered with any of the search engines for one reason or another.
Although many of them did not register by accident, some purposely did not register because they do not want to be easily found. For example, Silk Road, the online drug trafficking market that closed down a few years ago, could not be accessed by regular web browsers.
But Tor is not just for illegal activities on the web. It is also very popular with journalists, activists, human rights workers and whistleblowers, especially those who live or work in countries with Internet restrictions.
Tor not only hides Internet activity, but it also helps to ignore censorship.
The setbacks with using TOR
Tor’s main weakness is that it is susceptible to traffic analysis attacks, but this is not exactly new. Even the original design documents described this type of vulnerability. With this in mind, Tor was not designed to withstand an attack by infected nodes on a large scale.
After the Silk Road 2.0 illicit goods market closed and its founder was arrested, the Tor team released a patch for their software and urged users to update. They had found a group of relays that were exposing users who were accessing hidden services on the network. To accomplish this, it is estimated that they spent at least $ 50,000 on Amazon hosting services to host all the compromised nodes. Tor’s team also received information that investigators at Carnegie Mellon University received a payment of more than $1 million from the FBI to carry out this attack. Despite this latest blow to Tor’s reputation, Silk Road 3.0 is already operational. In the case of the Carnegie Mellon attack, only about six percent of Tor nodes were compromised.
These sites and the people behind them, along with many others who were attacked as part of the same operation, were brought down primarily by human error. Tor is only anonymous when you use it anonymously. Hidden servers are only as secure as the code that is installed on them. Using any kind of information that could be used to identify you when you are on the Deep Web or Dark Web will break your anonymity much faster than any agency or police force could. Using outdated or faulty code on a hidden server exposes that server to security flaws that will eventually lead to someone taking it over.
As a tool to maintain privacy and anonymity, Tor is an excellent resource. But it is only as good as those who use it. The weak point here is not Tor, but its user base.
Another drawback of using TOR is its performance.
As data goes through so many retransmissions, Tor is very slow, especially for audio and video. It can make streaming or downloading a nightmare.
It is also important to know that using Tor does not make you 100% invulnerable.
In fact, many believe that Tor can be easily hacked, as the exit nodes (the last transmission before your information reaches its destination) can see your traffic if the website you are accessing does not use SSL. Using HTTPS instead of just HTTP can add an extra layer of protection, but it is still not completely reliable.
Finally, government agencies can see if you’re using Tor. So, even if they don’t see what you’re doing, it’s still a red flag for the TOR network.
Alternatives to TOR
There are a lot of other alternatives to access Dark web without the help of TOR. Some of are browsers and some of them are the whole Operating systems. Depends on your requirements, you can choose what’s best for you. Some of the Alternative software for browsing Dark Web are Freenet, I2P, and TAILS.
We will talk about these alternatives in detail in our next Blog post. Stay tuned.