The Onion Router (Tor) is your best bet if you want to stay anonymous when exploring the dark web. The Tor browser is a powerful free tool for anonymously surfing the Internet, where you can find a variety of websites that use the onion domain.
With ISPs monitoring your every move and big tech websites selling off your information details to the highest bidder, anonymity appears to be fading. If you’re thinking of starting a new website or already have one, it’s worth looking at what an onion site can give you in terms of site security for both you and your guests.
Before I show you how to create an onion website, let’s gather up some information.
What Is An Onion Domain, and How Do I Get One?
An onion link/domain is a special IP suffix that can only be used with the Tor anonymity browser. Since standard browsers like Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox are unable to traverse the relay of proxy servers from which Tor is built, they will be unable to access sites using the onion domain.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) issues the traditional web domains that you’re probably familiar with, such as.com,.org, and.biz, among others (ICANN). Before they can use a domain or subdomain for their new website, users must send proposals to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
There are thousands of different domains online, but not everyone who wants to use them can use them. The.apple domain is an example of a domain that needs a unique request to obtain. Typically, there are costs associated with registering and managing the desired domain. As a result, those interested in obtaining a particular domain would need some upfront cash once their application has been accepted.
When it comes to using an onion site domain, there are both benefits and drawbacks. One of the more appealing aspects is that it can only be accessed through the Tor browser. This can be seen as both a benefit and a drawback.
Since Tor isn’t a particularly popular browser, it’s unlikely that a website with an onion domain will receive a lot of organic traffic. Tor, on the other hand, offers various levels of anonymity that are not accessible on the more common browsers, which are appreciated by security-conscious and concerned individuals.
Why Would You Want to Create an Onion Website?
You’re more interested in anonymity than anything else when you build an onion account. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise when the domain name is created automatically for you. A randomised series of 16 lowercase letters and numbers ranging from 2 to 7 will be sent to you. This string is what will allow the Tor browser to connect to your server.
Recognize that the domain name can be modified, but it will come at a cost. Any vanity domains you choose to make with a more familiar word or two would be computationally costly and time-consuming. Facebook’s onion domain of choice – facebookcorewwwi.onion – needed only 8 characters to build, but at a considerable cost to computer resources. It might take a billion years for a single machine to generate the exact 16 characters you want as a domain name by randomising data.
Yes, these random strings can only contain 16 characters. There isn’t any more, and there isn’t any less. This makes it even more difficult for users to remember the string, making it even more difficult for them to remember your website. It could also make it easier for malicious users to build a domain with a similar but different name, confusing your future visitors even more.
However, the fact that you don’t have to register with ICANN only to establish your own domain can be considered a benefit. There’s no need to shield your information from “whois” searches, and your ICANN account isn’t at risk of being hacked. As an onion owner, you have full control over your privacy and domain.
Before you start building your own onion website, make sure you understand how to safely access the dark web. Before you can create your own onion site, you must first run the privacy tools. You can move on to the next segment once you’ve mastered the prerequisites.
Using Tor To Set Up A Web Server
Before allowing Tor’s onion service to provide your existing web server with an onion domain, you’ll need to configure it. If your server is leaking personal data or files, the powerful anonymity offered by Tor is useless.
Tor recommends setting your server’s IP address to localhost. This is useful for hiding your real IP address because you’ll be able to build a virtual port from which visitors can communicate when you set up your onion services later.
You can also clean your server of any personally identifiable information that could be traced back to you. This entails eliminating all references to your server’s data from any error messages sent to guests.
Configuring the Onion Services on Your Server
If you follow the directions on the Tor project’s website, this process is fairly easy. More specific instructions on how to change your ‘torrc’ file to build an onion server can be found on the website. Make sure Tor is installed and running on your computer, as well as a local web server, as described in the previous section.
Turn on your Tor browser once the setup is complete to create a public key – or domain – for your website. Distribute this key to everyone that you want to visit your website in order to start generating traffic.
Make sure you’re sharing the public, not the private, key. Keep your site and visitors safe by making sure the private key is only visible to you. And there you go, you’ve quickly learned how to create an onion website and keep anonymous. Take a look at my other post: 8 Steps To Being Almost Completely Anonymous Online