In this latest edition of our periodic deep web series, we bring news of Tor 8 – the most feature-rich onion browser yet. We also take a first look at a clearnet web browser that trawls the darknet, and cover the fallout from the Alphabay shutdown, whose repercussions rumble on to this day.
Tor 8 Looks Great
The Tor Project has released its latest and greatest browser yet. Tor 8 is a slick looking beast compared to the Tor browsers of yore, partially thanks to its incorporation of Firefox Quantum, which allows for better page rendering and other subtle tweaks. With Tor 8, there’s a new welcome screen to guide first-time users through the process of connecting to the deep web, and there are additional security protections built in. A Tor Circuit button can now be used to switch servers at random, further obfuscating users’ connection route.
Tor 8 comes with HTTPS Everywhere and Noscript, and it is recommended that users enable these add-ons, as they’re critical in maximizing anonymity while browsing the web. While the Tor browser is best known as a tool for navigating the dark web, it can also be deployed as a privacy-friendly clearnet browser which minimizes cookies and other web trackers. Finally, the new improved Tor makes it easier to circumvent firewalls in countries where internet censorship is rife. Its development team explains:
For users where Tor is blocked, we have previously offered a handful of bridges in the browser to bypass censorship. But to receive additional bridges, you had to send an email or visit a website, which posed a set of problems. To simplify how you request bridges, we now have a new bridge configuration flow when you when you launch Tor. Now all you have to do is solve a captcha in Tor Launcher, and you’ll get a bridge IP. We hope this simplification will allow more people to bypass censorship and browse the internet freely and privately.
Deep Web Gets a Clearnet Search Engine
Searching the deep web has traditionally been harder than with its clearnet counterpart. The absence of a darknet Google is arguably part of its appeal, making onion sites accessible only to those who know what they’re looking for. It was this barrier to entry that ensured sites like Silk Road were accessible solely to technically adept users in bitcoin’s early days. The deep web has opened up significantly since then, giving up its secrets, and in the same week that Tor released its most user-friendly browser yet, it’s perhaps fitting that a clearnet search engine for the deep web should launch. Onionlandsearchengine.com is a simple but effective tool for generating deep web search results without needing to first connect to the deep web.
US Government Authorized to Seize Alphabay Suspect’s Assets
Long after deep web marketplaces have been shut down, the fallout continues to make its mark in US courtrooms. Silk Road, Hansa, and Alphabay’s legal wranglings periodically make the news, despite the years elapsed since the sites were first seized. As evidence of this, consider the ruling by a recent US magistrate judge granting the federal government permission to seize and sell millions of dollars worth of assets associated with Alexandre Cazes. The reputed Alphabay ringleader had $8 million of assets on his driveway alone at the time of this arrest in a string of high performance sports cars. Including cryptocurrencies, his total net worth was eventually calculated at $23 million.
Among the showier items in Cazes’ collection was a Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 worth almost $1 million with a license plate that read “Tor”. The late Alphabay boss certainly wasn’t subtle, but for all his sins, it is hard not to feel sorry for the 25-year-old who wound up dead in a Bangkok cell from suicide, another needless victim of the war on drugs.
Have you tried the latest Tor browser and if so what are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Tor Project, and Twitter.
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