The onion services serve many purposes to both organizations and individuals. Firms employ these services in enabling private information sharing as a cybersecurity measure amid the growing demand for online safety.
Individuals may use onion services to defeat censorship that takes center stage in countries ruled by oppressive governments. The same demand extends to the crypto industry for users seeking to engage private transactions – digital asset miners can also use onion services to operate safely.
Expectedly, just like any other technology, Tor has not been 100 percent secure. The fact that cases of threat actors compromising the onion services for malicious reasons meant that the Tor Project developers needed to act – and to act very decisively.
Sometime last year, in response to the need to improve onion services and eliminate any existing weaknesses in their system, the Tor Project announced a new development that would usher in a new era of onion browsing.
The July 2020 event marked the start of a timeline for the gradual decommissioning of version two onion services (v2) that would be replaced by the more secure version referred to as version three onion services (v3).
According to the Tor Project, a full takeover by v3 is expected to happen in October 2021 as a much-needed fix to safety issues online.
A Brief Analysis of v2 Onion Services
A quick scan of past events reveals the status of dark web browsing as an ever-growing industry. Onion services seem to have evolved over the years in response to changing market demands and circumstances.
Creation of the v2 was a step in the right direction considering that users were looking out for a strong and stable tool that ended up being actively employed for more than a decade. During that period, experts noted a sharp increase in onion service adoption that cut across both legitimate and illicit circles.
Today, onion services have become rather diverse in supporting an entire ecosystem of user needs ranging from web browsing to file sharing and communication. The previous success of v2 applications have since been shadowed by changing client environments that created the need for change.
Specifically, the tech environment’s grasp of mathematical applications and cryptographic communication have evolved significantly.
Such sector developments begot critical vulnerabilities as the initially solid foundation of v2 was edged towards becoming obsolete – the old version of onion services had proved fragile and unsafe.
Transitioning to v3 Onion Services
The Tor Project made their first breakthrough in developing a new version of onion services in the year 2015. Until then, a large scale effort had been invested over a 3-year period that would culminate in the birth of v3.
Consequently, in January 2018, Tor developers unveiled version 0.3.2.9 that happened to be the first tool with onion service version 3 integration. The Tor Project has since ensured that all relays on their network support v3 – it has since become the default version when establishing an onion service.
The Tor Project waited out the mass deployment of v3 before they considered ending the v2 onion service. According to the Tor Project, v2 has already served its full purpose by serving countless people and organizations – it has cleared the way for a new standard of private and secure communication, the v3.
Point to note, Tor developers created a 16-month window to allow the smooth migration from v2 to v3 onion service.
According to information provided in the Tor blog, the decommissioning process of the v2 onion service will take a clearly-planned deprecation process. A warning was already sent out to onion service operators in preparation for a planned official retirement in July 2021 – v2 will be fully disabled in October 2021.v