This article is for the people who already know what Tor is and have a basic idea of how it works. If you don’t know what Tor is or how it works, then please visit my article Tor an Anonymity Network for a general idea of what Tor is and how it works.
What DNS-based Blackhole Lists (DNSBLs) Are
DNSBL stands for DNS-based Blackhole List (DNSBL) which is just the DNS based blacklists out there today that blacklist certain servers on the internet which they think are botnets. These servers are not in any way bad but many times they can be a pain to deal with when it comes to things like: hosting email servers (which I will cover in another article), or a Tor user trying to use the Tor network to send Google or Yahoo Inquiry’s. There are currently dozens of DNSBLs in existence (which can make matters even worse for mail server operators and these Tor users).
How all of this affects Tor and its users
Tor, as you know, is an anonymity network which hides the identity of its users. In the process, it exposes the IP addresses of the Tor exit relays (the exit point in the network). These exit relays have and always will be a problem with the Tor network for many different reasons. The exit relay IP’s get listed in DNSBLs around the world and that’s where the problem begins. When the exit relay IP’s start to get listed in these databases, they automatically get blocked when you try to send an email, access certain web pages, or even use certain internet based services that you might use on normal low traffic IP address (like the IP address that gets assigned to your home router). The reason exit relay IP’s get listed in these databases is because some people abuse the power that Tor brings to the internet. People are always using Tor to do illegal stuff; more specifically using the exit relay IP’s as a spam source which, as a result, causes the exit relay IP’s to get listed in these databases. This can be a problem as I said above if you are trying to access sites such as Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and so on. Much of the time the sites will not completely block you. They will just make you verify that you are a human being and not some botnet. The way sites usually ask you to verify your identity is by using CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart). CAPTCHA is a challenge response to make sure you’re not a botnet. There are also different ways that sites may try to verify that you’re not a botnet. For example, if you’re signing into one of your web based accounts, they might ask you to verify your email address, phone number, name, or even your physical address. This method of verification can not only be used to verify that you are not a botnet, but also to verify that you are the correct person accessing that account.
What We Can Do
I honestly don’t know what we can do about this problem. If you are a Tor exit relay operator then you can try and get your IP address removed from the DNSBLs but it can be very difficult to do. This problem is not a problem with the technology that is used. This problem is a problem with human beings and humanity as a whole. Human beings are most likely always going to commit crime; we are always going to cheat, rob, steal, and even spam random users! The only thing I have to say about this problem is: before you do commit a crime using Tor, ask yourself the following questions.
What are the outcomes of my actions going to be?
How will my actions affect other people?
Also keep in mind, if you are just now learning about Tor, don’t dismiss it as something you don’t want to be a part of because of this article. Tor is use around the world to save lives. Tor is not only used by criminals, it is used by everyone and that‘s the beauty of unity.
Thank you all for taking the time to read this post and as always God bless!