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Why is the Dark Web shrinking?

by Felix Omondi
Dark Web

When you hear the Dar Web being mentioned, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Chances are high it is things bordering; a place where you can hire hitmen, buy illicit drugs and pay for it using cryptocurrencies.

In reality, however, most of these so-called Tor sites (onion sites) are nothing more than tame and useless sites. That is according to a new research that says the few real onion sites remaining are now headed for extinction.

What attracts people to Tor is its supposed ability to keep one anonymous by using ‘onion routing; where data from one users is passed through many routers, making it difficult (but not impossible) to track who is requesting the data. This system was developed by the US Office of Naval Research and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Onionscan tabled a report yesterday, on multiple investigations in the health of Tor networks. The investigation queried a database made up of 30,000 Tor sites over several days; given onion has the tendencies of being unreliable, unlike sites on the ‘clearnet.’

The Onionscan report unearthed that up to 4,400 were offline; that is a little under 15%. Although no one can purport to say these findings represent the complete truth of the state of affairs within the dark web. However, it is still indicative of the largely downward trend of the clandestine corner of the internet.

Why the drop in Dark Web sites?

The Dark Web has never been able to distance itself from its criminality reputations, thus making many people shy away from it. That in addition to the fact that the browser needs to access onion sites, the Tor browser, has a higher learning curve than other mainstream browsers. A user is likely to get familiar with Chrome, Firefox, Opera, or Edge browser than they are likely to get familiar with Tor browser.

However, the primary cause of shrinking of the Dark Web can be attributed to the disappearance of two key services; the site hosting service Freedom Hosting II and email client SIGAINT. Becoming truly anonymous on the Tor network is hard by itself, hosting a site on the dark web is an even more difficult task for most people.

The skills required to run a Tor hidden service make offloading that work to a 3rd party tempting. However, as seen with Freedom Hosting, and the other leaks we have demonstrated, this relationships (sic) creates additional security risks; and may in the end completely compromise any anonymity or privacy,” the Onionscan reports says.

What caused the downfall of FH2 and SIGAINT?

There were numerous allegations that FH2 was hosting child pornography, which means it was fluffing the wrong feathers with the authorities and child rights groups. In January this year, FH2 was hacked and taken down; with it went 10,000 sites.

On the other hand, while SIGAINT was one of the most popular email services in the Dark Web, it was bugged with issues of occasional unavailability. Finally, in mid-February, it went down and has never resurrected since then. As it went down, it made all correspondence conducted through it irretrievable.

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