Malicious dark web activity unevenly prevalent in free nations

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The Onion Router provides internet users with the largest anonymity network in the world. Widely known as Tor, the system helps users circumvent censors while protecting their personal data. From trafficking illicit drugs and sharing malware to distributing child abuse content, the dark web can shield illegal activity from detection.

New Virginia Tech study shows that only a small fraction of users globally (∼6.7%) likely use Tor for malicious purposes on an average day. However, this proportion clusters unevenly across countries, with more potentially malicious Tor users in “free” countries (∼7.8%) than in “not free” regimes (∼4.8%). These results suggest that the countries which host most of the infrastructure of the network and house the Tor Project plausibly experience a disproportional amount of harm from the Tor anonymity network.

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