On Friday, a post on the Tor Project’s blog sent out an alarming message: “The Tor Project has learned that there may be an attempt to incapacitate our network in the next few days.” More than 2 million users use the network to obscure their identities online, but law enforcement has been increasingly aggressive about pursuing criminals across Tor in recent years. Tor’s tip suggested the latest attack would be directed against the network’s directory authorities, which guide users to the available relays.
The Tor project said it could face attempts to incapacitate its network in the next few days through the seizure of specialized servers. The project did not name the group or agency that may try to seize its directory authorities, which guide Tor users on the list of distributed relays on the network that bounce communications around. “We are taking steps now to ensure the safety of our users, and our system is already built to be redundant so that users maintain anonymity even if the network is attacked. Tor remains safe to use,” wrote “arma” in a post Friday on the Tor project blog. The “arma” developer handle is generally associated with project leader Roger Dingledine. Rather than take a direct route from source to destination, data packets on the Tor network, designed to mask people’s Internet use, take a random path through several relays that cover user tracks.