Silk Road competitor Agora closes over Tor vulnerability

The government may have taken down Silk Road (and its successor Silk Road 2.0), but that underground market was merely a drop in the ocean, and one of its biggest competitors, Agora, remains live. Or, at least, it did until just recently. The darknet market has been taken offline by its administrators over fears that a security flaw could allow its servers to be located. The concerns revolve around a security issue with the Tor network detailed last month by MIT.

Tor has many benefits, particularly for those who live in nations with oppressive or restrictive Internet regulations. It allows users to access the Internet anonymously — though recently the network's security has been called into question. In a report published on July 28, MIT researchers and the Qatar Computing Research Institute revealed a vulnerability that could allow someone to "infer a hidden server's location" by looking at traffic patterns.

This was a striking revelation, and one that called into question Tor representatives' 2013 promise that a security issue with the network did not lead to Silk Road's demise. News of the vulnerability has reportedly spooked Agora's administrators, and to avoid being taken down in the same manner as their biggest competitor, they have pulled the plug and will keep Agora offline until a solution is found.

Agora, like Silk Road, served as a digital blackmarket where Internet users could purchase drugs and other illegal items, though earlier this summer it did ban the sale of firearms, and it also prohibited certain abhorrent services, including poisons, assassinations, and more. According to a post by the admins, they have spotted "suspicious activity around [the] servers which led us to believe that some of the attacks described in the research could be going on."