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Dark Web Reported to Have Shrunk by 85% Since Freedom Hosting II Downfall

In early February, free hosting provider Freedom Hosting II, known as one of the largest hosting providers for anonymous websites, was compromised along with all the websites it hosted. The takedown was estimated to have impacted 15-20% of all websites on the Dark Web, however, the actual impact is now reported to have been much larger.

Sarah Jamie Lewis, the main researcher behind the OnionScan, a Dark Web investigation tool, reports: "After the downfall of Freedom Hosting II we undertook the largest OnionScan crawl to date and examined over 30,000 onion services extracted from both the freedom hosting database and our existing master list. Of the 30,000 queried just over 4,400 were online when we scanned ... These 4,400 hidden services are far fewer than previous scans. We believe that the Freedom Hosting II takedown not only removed many thousands of active sites but also may have affected other hosting providers who were hosting some infrastructure on top of Freedom Hosting II. The sudden disappearance of Sigaint, an encrypted email provider, may also be associated with the decline of some hidden services."

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