Reputable News Site Now on the Dark Web
March 28, 2016
Does the presence of a major news site lend an air of legitimacy to the Dark Web? Wired announces, “ProPublica Launches the Dark Web’s First Major News Site.” Reporter Andy Greenberg tells us that ProPublica recently introduced a version of their site running on the Tor network. To understand why anyone would need such a high level of privacy just to read the news, imagine living under a censorship-happy government; ProPublica was inspired to launch the site while working on a report about Chinese online censorship.
Why not just navigate to ProPublica’s site through Tor? Greenberg explains the danger of malicious exit nodes:
“Of course, any privacy-conscious user can achieve a very similar level of anonymity by simply visiting ProPublica’s regular site through their Tor Browser. But as Tigas points out, that approach does leave the reader open to the risk of a malicious ‘exit node,’ the computer in Tor’s network of volunteer proxies that makes the final connection to the destination site. If the anonymous user connects to a part of ProPublica that isn’t SSL-encrypted—most of the site runs SSL, but not yet every page—then the malicious relay could read what the user is viewing. Or even on SSL-encrypted pages, the exit node could simply see that the user was visiting ProPublica. When a Tor user visits ProPublica’s Tor hidden service, by contrast—and the hidden service can only be accessed when the visitor runs Tor—the traffic stays under the cloak of Tor’s anonymity all the way to ProPublica’s server.”
The article does acknowledge that Deep Dot Web has been serving up news on the Dark Web for some time now. However, some believe this move from a reputable publisher is a game changer. ProPublica developer Mike Tigas stated:
“Personally I hope other people see that there are uses for hidden services that aren’t just hosting illegal sites. Having good examples of sites like ProPublica and Securedrop using hidden services shows that these things aren’t just for criminals.”
Will law-abiding, but privacy-loving, citizens soon flood the shadowy landscape of the Dark Web.
Cynthia Murrell, March 28, 2016