The New York Times will soon be available on the darknet. Specifically the New York Times will have its own .onion service which will only be accessible via a Tor web browser. This has come as a shock and surprise for most people since the darknet has been the buzz word for dangerous, illegal, and most of all, threatening to the security of all global powers, including the United States. This is because more often than not anonymous websites are linked to illegal activities like credit card scimming, weapons sales, and darknet marketplace drug sales. However, this is totally different because for the first time the Tor onion service will be used for the benefit of most online readers. By allowing users to access this alternative service not only will it allow people to get information but it also attract a wider audience for the news agency, especially those who live in countries that prevent internet freedom.
According to The Times using the .onion site, users will have an alternative way of accessing their news stories and daily updates. In most cases you will find that accessing information can be a bit challenging especially with the watchful eyes of the government. Therefore, some readers prefer using Tor already just for daily news updates, so by launching the site on the Tor Network, NYT readers will already have an added bonus. It is also possible that some users are limited due to the fact that they are technically blocked from the site. This is the case for countries in Asia and even certain parts of Africa and Europe. While in other instances the reader will worry about local network monitoring. But whichever excuse people used to give that is now a thing of the past. Since the Launch of the Tor Onion service eliminates all barriers.
Tor Onion Service is a scary subject to most people but it is the best way to access the deep web. Since, it is mostly known as “hidden service” or “the dark web” and is commonly linked to darknet marketplaces like Dream or Trade Route Market. These market are mostly used for illegal activities and the primary exchange currency are digital cryptocurrencies such as Moreno and the world famous Bitcoin and its various wallet options.
The aim of this giant news agency is to make every reader have free access to its high quality and independent journalism. And by exploring new ways of improving its delivery, the organization has given way to Tor. Therefore The News York Times went ahead to create nytimes.com as an Onion Service. Thus making the website accessible via secure and hard to block VPN via the Tor Network. Readers can use this .onion address: www.nytimes3xbfgragh.onion – here in The New York Times announcement. Hence, readers can be able to access the site without fear of being monitored or being blocked. This alternative option also guarantees the reader is securely connected to the site.
“The New York Times Reports on stories worldwide, and our reporting is read by millions of people globally,” said Runa Sandvik, director of information security for the Times. Sandvik, who was also formerly of the Tor Project added that the experiment will serve as lessons that need to be learnt concerning scaling and running an Onion Service.
As the new turn of events may have put The Times in the lime light, it is however not the first organization to use the Tor network. Facebook, one of the biggest social media platform and ProPublica are some of the other notable Onion Service users. ProPublica and Facebook have each created customized tooling to support their implementation. In addition, the Times Onion Service is built using the open-source Enterprise Onion Toolkit (EOTK). EOTK automates much of the management effort as well as the configurations.
At this point, The New York Times Onion Service is still raw and much needs to be done. Making this first phase experimental and some features like logins and comments are yet to be implemented. “Every once in a while there will be outages, which is only meant to fine tune the sites performance,” this is according to The Times engineering team.
— timesopen (@timesopen) October 27, 2017
The Tor network guarantees full anonymity and thus has attracted a number of negative attention, but it is unclear if the New York Times can right the ship with one safe .onion service. Moreover, the Federal government has its watchful eyes on the sites as well as the people that use it. In a bid to curb the illegal activities, the authorities have taken an interest in all the anonymous platforms and shutting down various darknet markets include Alphabay and Hansa.
Recently, there has been a break through by the federal agents, who can now identify anonymous Tor Users. Begging the question how safe is the Tor network? This is said to be attributed to the fact that not all people know how to be anonymous even when using privacy systems already in place like TAILS that will boost your protection. This also comes as a surprise as the people (US government) who created Tor are the same people trying to shut it down. Currently, new anonymous technologies are coming up daily. Thus, prompting law enforcers to be more vigilant. Additionally darknet market subscribers are increasing their protection behind the use of Bitcoin debit cards and other anonymous cryptocurrencies in order to protect their transaction privacy.
However, if the launch of The New York Times will prove to be successful what other organizations will follow in these footsteps? Can such a move save the face of the entire Tainted Tor Network? Or will it remain in the public eye, as Public Enemy number one?