We previously informed you about the hacking of over 10,000 websites on the Dark Web by the notorious hacker group Anonymous. The group took down the servers of Freedom Hosting II (web hosting services that handled 11,000 or nearly 20% of all Dark Web websites) to teach child pornography distributors and addicts on the Dark Web a good lesson. Anonymous also leaked a majority of data from Freedom Hosting II, which included over 380,000 user records.
Now we have learned that after the abovementioned cyber-attack, the number of hidden services on the Dark Web has lowered significantly. This revelation was made after an analysis was carried out using OnionScan. It is an open source tool that helps in the investigation of content or websites present on the Dark Web.
According to the OnionScan report, out of over 30,000 Tor-based hidden services, only 4,400 are active on the Dark Web currently. It is much lower in comparison to previous such scans, stated the OnionScan project operator Sarah Jamie Lewis.
Lewis also stated that they believed Freedom Hosting II has not only removed “thousands of active sites, are, ” but its sudden dislike of hidden websites has encouraged other hosting service providers too. This is why, noted Lewis, the number of hidden services has reduced so much including the secure email platform Sigaint, which went offline unannounced in mid-February.
Apart from the absence of such a huge number of hidden services, the scan report also detected 4,000 HTTP services, 250 TLS services, 270 SSH services, 100 SMTP services, 220 Bitcoin nodes and some FTP and VNC services too on the Dark Web. Moreover, it was identified that most of the hidden sites were not configured appropriately as yet since researchers extracted around one thousand unique IP addresses, which belonged to hidden services or the clarinet clients who access these sites.
Here the question arises, why Tor-based services have been removed? The reason could be that a majority of users have started to perceive Dark Web as a platform dedicated to criminality oriented or illegal activities. Furthermore, it is a fact that just like maintaining anonymity on Tor is difficult in the same manner hosting a hidden service on the Dark Web is daunting as it required high-level skills and technical abilities. As per the report of OnionScan, states Lewis:
“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 relationship (sic) creates additional security risks – and may in the end completely compromise any anonymity or privacy.”