Speculation is rife over a boom in anonymous Tor usage
According to the Tor Metrics Portal, the number of users connecting to the Internet through the anonymous Tor client has doubled since 19 August.
The sudden increase was discovered by one of the original Tor developers, Roger Dingledine.
The exact reason for the influx of users is currently a mystery. Most likely, it was caused by the Pirate Browser launched by the Pirate Bay in the first half of August, although the NSA leaks, new anti-piracy legislation in Russia or even a Tor botnet could also be responsible.
A riddle wrapped in a mystery
Tor is a free encrypted network that conceals a user’s location or Internet use from anyone conducting network surveillance or traffic analysis. It hosts a variety of content from underground media and secure communication services to things like The Hidden Wiki, a collection of illegal instructions and manuals.
In the last ten days, the number of Tor connections has suddenly doubled without any obvious reason. “It’s not just a fluke in the metrics data — it appears that there really are twice as many Tor clients running as before,” wrote Dingledine.
The researcher noted there was just a slight decrease in the performance of the anonymous network, which indicates that even though there are a lot more clients running, “it would seem they’re not doing much”.
Earlier this month, scores of “darknet” websites and services went down following the arrest of an Irish man believed to be the head of Freedom Hosting, the biggest service provider on the Tor network.
Can you look after your personal data online? Take our quiz!