So I was curious. I was reading up on the dark net market the silk road and it mentioned that the “owner” always used Tor through public wifi. Is there any particular benefit from doing that, or was that just him being him?

Tor itself is secure regardless of what network it’s on, so I’m just curious why he chose to be in a public place instead of a private place (which ultimately led to his arrest).


In a private network you are all alone with your ISP, even if you use Tor. They know the connection coming to your home, they know when you connect to the Internet, they know when you switch to another network etc. In some countries ISPs are more powerful than you can imagine. For example, in Turkey ISPs are instantly sharing information with government units.

The second reason is, in a home environment, every device you use for connecting to the Internet is keeping logs, like your router, your switch etc. And they are obviously 'yours', 'belongs to you' when they have found in your home. But when you use a public network, the devices you use won't be your devices - they are public. It's like using a public toilet, no one can search for your DNAs in a public toilet.

Also in a public network, the only fingerprint you left behind might be your computer hardware, if you use your own device. But if you are also using a public PC, no worries, it's not yours. When it comes to public or temporary devices, you can always claim it's not yours. That's why many people use small and portable devices like raspberry pi etc. or use public PCs.


Plausible deniability - if you use publicly available wifi, whatever communications you make, you can claim it wasn't you, but someone sitting at the next table, or even outside. If it was using your L2 address, you can claim it was spoofed. This is all true, even if the connection is encrypted - all the nodes on a common WPA using network are using the same key, and can see each others connection.

If you do try to claim it wasn't you connecting at your home network, that will become less and less likely the more times it happens - this is true even for the public networks, but I think the "feel" of uncertainty with that argument never goes away on a public network, but it becomes less and less defendable at a known private network.

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