Why you shall host your Website on the Tor Network?

  • Your website will always be accessible for your clients no matter what. Use Tor as a backup method for your online presence. Learn from the big – Facebook, Google and many others already host their services within Tor
  • The Internet relies on the Domain name system to resolve your server IP address, however if the global DNS system Fails, your clients won’t be able to reach you (there will be no servers to resolve the IP address of your server and thus the browser will NOT load your website). Tor is using a unique approach for accessing services within the Tor cloud (the so called hidden services). Tor does not rely on DNS. 
  • Triple encryption between the Tor Browser and the hidden service server that will make it impossible for man-in-the middle attacks, eavesdropping and so on. Tor hidden services are within the Tor Cloud. All traffic inside the Tor network are encrypted and secured with TLS tunnels.
  • Tor is semi-decentralized network, comprising relays, entry and exit nodes, hosted by volunteers all over the world, initially developed for the US Navy and funded by the US Government. This ensures that there is not a single authority that may shut down the network.
  • Tor provides anonymity, meaning that the client does not know the location AND the IP address of the server in the Tor network.
  • Tor hidden services are accessible behind NAT. You can run your services behind a router / firewall with no further configuration which makes it very useful where you don’t have a public IP for your service. The combination of triple encryption and availability behind NAT makes it very useful for IoT end devices and embedded systems.

What is a hidden service in the Tor Cloud?

The hidden service can be any service luch as FTP server, SSH Server, Web Server etc. The hidden services within Tor are using the onion routing protocol. Every service on the Tor network can be reached via its public key (v2 hidden services are 16 characters base32 hashes of the private key which is RSA1024 and every hidden service name finish with .onion extension) The hidden services can be accessed only within the Tor network by using the Tor Browser. You can learn more about how Tor hidden services work by visiting this link

What do I need to run a Tor hidden service and how hard it is to setup a hidden service on the Tor network?

Setting up a hidden service on the Tor network is very easy. You will need a Machine with Linux preferably and a running instance of Tor, editing the torrc file to define where the hidden service directory

The steps for installing and running a Tor hidden service on machine with Ubuntu are as follows:

  • sudo apt-get install tor
  • Edit /etc/tor/torrc with your editor of choise

You should add two lines in the torrc file to setup a hidden service

  1. HiddenServiceDir /var/lib/tor/webserver/
  2. HiddenServicePort 80 127.0.0.1:80

The first line defines where hidden service public/private keys are stored and the second line defines the hidden service port (on the Tor network) and to which port on the local machine it should point to. After editing torrc , save and quit.

type sudo service tor restart

If a hidden service is defined in torrc , Tor automatically generates a RSA1024 private key and base32 .onion public key. The public key is the “domain name” for your hidden service on the Tor network, it is the name which your clients type in the Tor Browser.

To check what .onion name Tor assigned for your hidden service type:

cat /var/lib/tor/webserver/hostname

The auto assigned .onion hidden services public keys are not very human readable . Example -> j234kkn56a77mi.onion

To actually host something on your machine you should install a webserver of your choise such as apache, nginx or any other that will listen on localhost:80 .

Finally your service will be available on Tor

Is there a way to make or generate a vanity Tor .onion public keys?

There is a way to do it by using special utility such as scallion – a vanity .onion names generator that can do a probabilistic search using one or more GPUs . The more GPUs the more faster you will generate your public / private keys . As we mentioned above v2 .onion addresses are 16 characters long and to generate a 16 character long vanity name for Tor it will take all the time in the universe, however if you need 6 – 12 characters prefix, followed by random characters then it is doable.

You can read more about generating a vanity Tor .onion domain / public key by Clicking Here

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