Friday, April 12, 2013

Tor | Peeling Back the Layers of the Internet

Recently I made a post about BitCoins, and in that post I mentioned an illegitimate service that requires the use of BitCoins. I'm speaking of the notorious website, The Silk Road. What exactly is The Silk Road?

It's named after a non-fictional network that linked trade routes that connected Eastern, Southern, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world. The trade routes were significant in not only trading items, but also a cultural exchange that took place for thousands of years. The Silk Road marketplace or website, is an online black market. Three common items that are frequently bought and sold are heroin, cannabis, and LSD. Thankfully there are rules to the site, in regards to what users can and can't buy.

Here's some of things that aren't prohibited to be sold and purchased on The Silk Road
  • stolen credit card numbers                  
  • counterfeit currency
  • firearms
  • personal information
  • assassinations
  • weapons of mass destruction
  • underage pornography 
So how exactly does The Silk Road maintain a level of anonymity? The answer is Tor. Tor stands for the The Onion Router, which is a system that allows the user to search the internet without revealing their IP Address, giving the user anonymity to browse the internet. The Silk Road is only accessible through Tor, meaning that you simply can't open your internet browser and find The Silk Road. Tor is available for download here. Once the user installs the program, they can begin browsing the internet. Obviously it isn't that hard to conceive some negative effects with having complete anonymity while browsing the internet. However, Tor has some amazing legitimate uses. Some of these are when Activists and Journalists use the service to report on dangerous stories in war zones, or politically unstable regions.

Some governments actively block information that their citizens are "allowed" to view, even though the information may not be offensive or illegal. Oppressive governments control access to information as a means of subduing and controlling their people. Information is freedom, and the Tor provides freedom to those who aren't lucky enough to have it.

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