The dark web, previously considered a well-hidden part of the internet where all sorts of criminal activities occur, is now attracting the presence of mainstream websites.
After Facebook took the plunge in 2014 when they launched their onion site for users who preferred to connect to the social media website more securely, more mainstream sites have begun looking towards the dark web as a means of reaching audiences from the more hidden parts of the internet.
Now, independent security researcher Alec Muffett has made it easier for organizations and mainstream websites to “onionize” their websites by engineering a tool that takes care of the technical intricacies of setting up a site on the dark web.
Muffett’s tool is called The Enterprise Onion Toolkit (EOTK). Based on an assortment of scripts, the EOTK streamlines the integration process and creates a Tor address for your site.
Muffett Will Be Targeting Mainstream Organizations
In a nutshell, the EOTK makes it possible to create a dark web version of any website using minimum effort, skill, and technical knowledge.
According to Muffett himself, the “onionification” takes over more than 90 percent of the process, making it much simpler for organizations to get their site on the dark web.
Muffett pointed out that creating an onion site from scratch requires not only technical know-how, but also a lot of manual configuration.
The target for Muffett’s innovative software? Reputable organizations whose audiences extend into the uncharted waters of the dark web.
He went on to explain that the software targeted mainstream organizations to make them accessible to the people who cannot risk surfing the internet without hiding their personal information, listing charities and BBC World Service as potential examples.
EOTK Will Act as a Middleman between Websites and Visitors
Organizations that will use the EOTK will be allowed to use their valid cryptographic certificate. Ideally, an organization will only be able to create a dark web version of a site they already own on the clear web.Failure to use a valid cryptographic certificate will translate to tons of browser errors on the users’ part.
The EOTK seems to favor sites that are still using cleartext HTTP at the moment. Sites with significant amounts of SSL will be hard-pressed to find any usable content unless an SSL certificate is used to sanction the onion site, according to Muffett.
The Risks and Benefits Involved in “Onionifying” a Website
As Muffett demonstrated in a brief YouTube video, in which he created an onion site version of CNN.com, anyone can create a dark web mirror for any website.
This is where the risk lies, since the administrator of the website is able to intercept data that is being transferred to and from the dark web version of the website.As such, organizations should administrate their own onion sites to prevent sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands.
Muffett Encourages Organizations to “onionify” their Websites
Switching to a dark web version of their website will effectively prevent malicious Tor exit nodes from stealing personal information from the users of the website.
For websites that require credit card information or other sensitive data, switching to a Tor-hidden site could be a very sober security measure.
In the case of other sites such as ProPublica, the independent journalistic organization, turning to the dark web is a way of allowing all their users to access their publications easily and securely.
What can be said with surety is that despite the dark web’s muddied reputation, mainstream organizations will soon be clamoring for the EOTK as they look to extend their reach into the deeper web.
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