Yep, Tor Traffic Really Is Dominated by Botnets and Porn

The anonymous, secure Tor network has always had a reputation as a place for botnets, porn kings, and drug dealers. "But it's such an amazing tool for political dissidents, a way to escape the spying government!" you might think in the wake of this NSA debacle. Then again, first impressions are often correct.

Such is the case with Tor. The network is dominated by botnets, porn and black market goods, especially drugs according to a team of researchers from Luxembourg who discovered an exploit in Tor's software earlier this year that allowed them access to not-so-anonymous Tor users. After pulling data from some 39,000 Tor users, they reported the exploit to Tor who patched it immediately. From the data the researchers skimmed off of Tor, they were able to identify the most trafficked websites in the Tor network and just published their findings.

Indeed, the vast majority of the traffic came from botnets and porn sites—potentially illegal ones. More specifically, out of the top 20 most popular Tor addresses, eleven came from botnets and five came from porn sites. Those two categories aside, the rest of the traffic came from a Bitcoin mining site and Silk Road, the infamous and drug heavy marketplace.

This doesn't mean you should stop using Tor. In fact, it's still the best way to surf the web anonymously even though there are risks. But the dominance of botnets on Tor is something to watch out for, especially now that the anonymous internet is coming under attack. Typically these nasty devils just slow the network down, but they do have the capacity to do some damage. So be careful what you do on Tor. We're not judging, just warning you that it's a little bit volatile right. [MIT Technology Review]