Tor Project sees decline in server numbers, will offer rewards for new bridge operators
Catalin Cimpanu November 19, 2021

Tor Project sees decline in server numbers, will offer rewards for new bridge operators

Tor Project sees decline in server numbers, will offer rewards for new bridge operators

The Tor Project said this week that it has seen a drop in the number of Tor relays and bridge servers and is now offering various rewards to users who help bring the number back up.

Rewards include the likes of hoodies, t-shirts, and stickers and are meant to provide some sort of meaningful gift to those who help keep the Tor anonymity network alive and resilient to censorship.

More specifically, the rewards will be provided to those who run Tor “bridges,” which serve as entry points into the Tor network for users located in countries that block access to Tor servers.

“We currently have approximately 1,200 bridges, 900 of which support the obfs4 obfuscation protocol,” said Gustavo Gus, Community Team Lead for the Tor Project.

“Unfortunately, these numbers have been decreasing since the beginning of this year. It’s not enough to have many bridges: eventually, all of them could find themselves in block lists. We therefore need a constant trickle of new bridges that aren’t blocked anywhere yet,” the Tor Project member said.

Tor-bridge-stats
Image: Tor Project

Tor Project needs 200 Tor bridge relays by the end of the year

“This is where we need your help. The goal of this campaign is to bring more than 200 obfs4 bridges online by the end of this year,” Gus added.

The Tor Project, which has always had difficulties in getting access to vast monetary resources, would be providing some sort of rewards for those who decide to help the project with its effort to keep the Tor network running and resilient to censorship.

Golden Gate bridge (limited to 10 kits)

  • Run 10 obfs4 bridges for 1 year.
  • Reward kit: 1 Tor hoodie + 2 Tor T-shirt + stickers pack.

Helix bridge (limited to 20 kits)

  • Run 5 obfs4 bridges for 1 year.
  • Reward kit: 1 Tor T-shirt + stickers pack.

University bridge kit (limited to 10 kits)

  • Run 2 obfs4 bridges for 1 year in your university.
  • Reward kit: 1 Tor T-shirt + stickers pack.

Rialto bridge (randomly select 10 new bridge operators)

  • Run 1 obfs4 bridge for 1 year and you will be part of the ‘reward lottery’.
  • We will randomly select 10 new bridge operators to receive a metallic roots Tor t-shirt as a token of our gratitude for your help defending the open internet.

Gus said the promo campaign will run until January 7, 2022.

Technical requirements and other info for those who might be interested in re-activate their Tor bridges or running new ones are available in the Tor Project’s announcement.

Catalin Cimpanu is a cybersecurity reporter for The Record. He previously worked at ZDNet and Bleeping Computer, where he became a well-known name in the industry for his constant scoops on new vulnerabilities, cyberattacks, and law enforcement actions against hackers.