Several TOR Services Shut Down


 The Onion Router, or TOR, is the most popular anonymizing network on the Internet. It allows you to do things online while staying virtually anonymous and safe from eavesdropping. It's being used by activists fighting oppressive governments, business people trying to keep their communications safe from corporate espionage, and criminals attempting to evade the law. All one needs to participate is downloading a piece of software which connects you to the TOR network. But one lesser known type of service that TOR offers is called a hidden service. These are web sites that can also be anonymous, and often provide services for people wishing to do business in a completely private way, such as email, buying and selling goods, or sending financial payments.

Right now however, a bunch of these services are offline. Worse, there are reports of many well known TOR hidden services may be compromised using a browser exploit. Everything started when the FBI arrested the owner of the company Freedom Hosting. The problem is that a lot of services, including TORMail, used them as hosting provider. Now it appears as if these services have been replaced with a blank page offering an exploit to any visitor, attempting to take over user's computers. So if you use TOR, be careful not to go to hidden services for a while.

Of course, this shows how complacency can be a very bad thing, especially when it comes to security. The problem isn't with TOR. The software itself is safe and hasn't been compromised. But because many owners of TOR hidden services used the same hosting provider, a single arrest shut them all down. This is the same reason why businesses are often advised to have redundancy. By not relying on a single point of failure, you avoid these issues.