[Cryptography] Are Tor hidden services really hidden?

Phillip Hallam-Baker hallam at gmail.com
Thu Feb 13 09:04:12 EST 2014

The latest attempt to plant a replacement for Silk road has lasted only 9
days. It seems that the authorities are now looking to stamp out any
copycats before they get a toe hold.

What I find rather confusing is the idea that hiding a service rather than
a client is feasible. Tor is vulnerable to traffic analysis as the Harvard
bomb threat proved. The student responsible was discovered because his
IP/MAC address was one of only five using Tor on Harvard campus at the

Tor is very good at preventing the authorities from seeing which sites a
person in Iran is contacting outside Iran. So it is a very powerful
anti-censorship tool. But use of Tor for criminal purposes is an obvious
concern for the authorities and it is fairly easy for them to set up Tor
nodes. So I have always assumed that at least 50% of the nodes in Tor are
operated by LE and intel agencies. They may not be able to see the actual
traffic but they can certainly see IP addresses and an IP address only has
meaning if there are BGP routes pointing packets towards it.

So from a technical point of view it seems to me that the 'dark net' cannot
possibly exist but there seem to be many people betting they can stay out
of jail on the belief it does.

Is this just an example of wishful thinking or is there something else at

Website: http://hallambaker.com/
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