TorProject recently finished supporting 16-character domains in the zone.onion, also known as v2 addresses, and replaced them with 56-character domains, known as v3. Researchers have calculated how many sites have already switched to the new standard.
These changes have been brewing for a long time and were designed to improve the privacy, security and resilience of the Tor network, including attacks related to user deanonymization. These changes were announced last year, that is, the entire transition process took more than a year.
- September 2020: The developers of the Tor Project released Tor version 0.4.4, which warned server operators that support for v2 domains would soon be discontinued.
- July 2020: Tor 0.4.6 was released, which prohibited server owners from registering new v2 domains.
- October 2021: Stable versions were released for all Tor branches where v2 domains were not supported.
- November 2021: release of the Tor 11 browser, which finally stopped supporting v2 domains.
However, despite all this preparation, the experts, which monitors the darknet, report that the Tor network mainly still consists of servers running old v2 domains.
Experts write that in July 2021 there was a surge in the creation of new v3 domains, which coincided with the warnings of the Tor Project, which began to be displayed before accessing v2 domains. As a result, in the last two weeks of July alone, more than 2,900 v3 domains were registered.
The growth continues now, because currently new v2 domains can no longer be registered, but users can still access existing sites using older browser versions.
Researchers expect v2 sites to finally disappear next year. The fact is that most operators of Tor nodes will upgrade their servers to versions that will no longer support v2 domains at all, and there will also be no Tor repeaters capable of routing traffic to old-generation domains.