Tor network experiencing massive ongoing DDoS attacks

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 13, 2023

In the past seven months, users of the Tor network may have experienced issues connecting to sites through the network. Issues may have included slow connections while connected to Tor, but also that sites did not load at all.

tor browser

A blog post on the official Tor blog provides insights on the ongoing attack on Tor. According to it, Tor's network has been under DDoS, Distributed Denial of Service, attacks for the last seven months.

The organization notes that it has been "working hard to mitigate the impacts and defend the network from these attacks". It admits, however, that the attackers have changed the attacks and that Tor had to adapt to the changes.

What makes the situation more problematic is that there is uncertainty in regards to who is behind the attacks or what their intentions are.

As a response Tor added two new Network team members who will focus on the development of .onion services exclusively.

Tor users who experience slowdowns and other connectivity issues while connected to the Tor network may want to retry the connection at a later point. While the attacks are ongoing, their impact on the network's performance differs throughout the day.

A fundraiser is held currently to help mitigate the impact of attacks against the Tor network. It is at 70% currently, with $155,000 U.S. Dollars left to raise. Donations can be made via PayPal or Stripe, or through cryptocurrency transfers.

Tor Browser

tor browser onion

One of the main tools to use the Tor network is the Tor browser. It is based on Firefox ESR, but configured for maximum security and privacy. Tor connectivity is integrated in the browser, and it usually is enough to start the browser and wait for it to connect to the Tor network.

From there, sites are accessed through the Tor network, which routes request through several servers to prevent that a single entity knows about the origins of the request and its destination.

Tor users may want to make sure that the browser is up to date. The latest version at the time of writing is Tor Browser 11.5.8. It is available as an automatic update from within Tor Browser and as a standalone download for all supported operating systems, Windows, Mac, Linus and Android, from the official Project website.

Tor Browser highlights if an .onion site is available, as connections to .onion sites are more private and secure than regular connections.

Another option to connect to the Tor network is provided by Brave Browser. It comes with a built-in Tor connection option, found in the browser's main menu.

Closing Words

The Tor project continues to defend the network against the attacks. Doing so requires constant attention and tweaking of defenses to adapt to changes in attack patterns. The two additional Network team members should help improve the defensibility of the Tor service against these types of attacks.

Now You: do you use Tor?

Tor network experiencing massive ongoing DDoS attacks
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Tor network experiencing massive ongoing DDoS attacks
In the past seven months, users of the Tor network may have experienced issues connecting to sites through the network.
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  1. Count Von Thizzle said on February 13, 2023 at 7:01 pm

    Ii’s not just TOR, I2P is also getting hammered by DDOS attacks.
    Iran? China? Or both? Expect a new TOR browser and updated I2P binaries soon.

    1. MegaCosmicMeowBlaster 8.0 said on February 23, 2023 at 8:45 am

      Most likely Big Tech and US Gov.. Think about it, they have deeply rooted spyware including biometrics implanted in every home and in everyone’s pockets.. each device (smartphones) also actively communicates information creating a massive global spy network of which most people are oblivious too.. It forces any kind of resistance to use Linux based systems (also explicitly targeted by the botnet) and Shadowsocks and most importantly Tor.. It’s all that’s left.
      Even now Google actively fights the push for linux based systems and smartphones..
      It’s a losing battle but I would rather go down having my own opinions and pushing for my right and future generations right to privacy…

    2. Honorius said on February 16, 2023 at 8:46 am

      Well, judging by the time frame (last 7 months) and remembering which _actor_ has made a major mess in the last 11 months and would like to censor, I only have 1 most likely option.

      Ru-Ru-RusPutin, Russia’s greatest war machine
      It was a shame how he acted on…

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