Sites hosted on Tor, known as Hidden Services, have been targeted by denial of service (DoS) attacks, where large amounts of traffic is sent to a web server, making access slow or impossible. Narcotics bazaars were just some of many to have suffered.
Owners of Hidden Services started complaining about accessibility issues last week. On 23 March, Darren Martyn, a researcher and former LulzSec member running his own Hidden Services, said Tor relays, which are employed to divert users’ traffic to hide their original internet identity, were crashing. He also saw a spike in processor usage in the machines handling his sites.
Help is on the way for everyone running Hidden Services. Earlier this week, the Tor Project confirmed it is to crowdfund the creation of Hidden Services software. “We want to make it much harder to DoS Hidden Services. We also want to build some very cool things, like a software development kit (SDK) so that people can build Hidden Services – and Tor – into mobile apps.”
The Project hopes instability of Hidden Services will be countered as a result of the community effort. These privacy-focused sites go up and down frequently, which is partly responsible for the wildly different figures cited for the number of Hidden Services running on Tor. Christopher White, who is heading up the MEMEX search project at Darpa, otherwise known as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, told FORBES the initiative has found there are between 10,000 and 30,000 active Hidden Services running every day (the research is not yet complete). Previous figures had been as low as 1,000 and as high as 45,000.