Tor Cloud Closes Due to Lack of Maintenance
The Tor (The Onion Router) Cloud project is closed as of May 8, 2014 due to concerns over software maintenance. Organizers shut down the project on Friday due to the inability to keep the cloud up to date.
The Tor network allows users to connect to the Internet through a series of volunteer operated servers through virtual tunnels to protect privacy. The system also circumvents censorship by allowing users to reach any content, even when sites are blocked by entities such as the Chinese government.
The cloud portion of this project “gave people a user-friendly way of deploying bridges on the Amazon EC2 cloud computing platform to help users access an uncensored Internet. By setting up a bridge, they would donate bandwidth to the Tor network and help improve the safety and speed at which users can access the Internet,” according to the blog post. The post says the main reason for discontinuing the Tor cloud is that here is a major bug that makes it “dysfunctional” and there are over a dozen other bugs, including one related to Heartbleed, in the project.
Tor is known for enabling anonymity and for a thriving Internet black market. In November law enforcement shut down over 400 sites selling a variety of illegal goods and services including illegal narcotics; firearms; stolen credit card data and personal identification information; counterfeit currency; fake passports and other identification documents; and computer-hacking tools and services,” according to the Department of Justice press release. In 2013, the FBI was trying to slow illegal markets by releasing malware that attempted to take away the anonymity of users.
The project was unable to find a maintenance person for the project after months of looking. “Tor Cloud is still a good idea, it just needs somebody to implement it,” said the post. “If people still want to help users access an uncensored Internet, there remain plenty of ways to help. For example, it’s still possible to spin up an instance on Amazon EC2 or any other cloud computing platform and install a Tor bridge manually. Or people can donate to organizations that run Tor relays and bridges like Torservers.net or their partner organizations.”
The blog posted noted that existing Tor Cloud instances are unaffected by this announcement.