Regular web users can now access anonymously-published websites that are masked by Tor's hidden services thanks to a new tool called tor2web.com .
The tool, created by former
Reddit developer Aaron Swartz and WikiScanner creator Virgil Griffith, enables people to view these hidden websites (designated by the .onion domain suffix) without diving into Tor, which can be a pain for casual surfers.
The creators hope that
the existence of tor2web will encourage more organizations to publish content anonymously through Tor, now that such a heavy access restriction has been lifted.
The Tor project is most famous as a tool that allows Internet surfers to access
websites privately and anonymously from within the onion router. Put simply, it works by passing your requests to another node that acts as a middleman between you and a website, which in turn passes the request onto other nodes, and so on. Every
step is encrypted except for the final exit node to the content server connection, and the network is run almost entirely by volunteers.
Tor's hidden services allow web publishers to publish content anonymously so that law enforcement (and
general snoopers) can't detect where the information is coming from. The only problem with publishing websites under Tor is that they can only be accessed from within Tor, meaning that the available audience at any given time is infinitesimally small
compared to the overall Internet-using population. This is the problem that Swartz and Griffith hope to address with tor2web.
Consumers will have to pay at least £46 ($70) a month for Virgin Media's new super-fast broadband service, which offers more than double the speed of its closest rivals.
Today, about 1.5m Virgin Media customers can upgrade to 50
megabits-per-second broadband, which allows hour-long TV shows to be downloaded in a minute.
By the end of the year, it plans to have 40% of its network online with the new service, with the rest completed by summer 2009.
But the UK still
lags behind South Korea, France and Italy, where speeds of 100MBps are becoming available.
Virgin hopes the extra capacity will appeal to households where several family members are online at once, which strains slower connections. Other
potential uses include high-definition television streamed over the internet or a home-security network. Virgin says its customers have doubled their data consumption in the past 18 months.