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Setting-up a .Onion address for your Website, v1.5

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Overview of means & methods of adding an Onion address to your website. Date: 4 December 2017

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Setting-up a .Onion address for your Website, v1.5

  1. 1. setting up a .onion address …for your website v1.5 - @alecmuffett 2017
  2. 2. why .onion? • you have an audience, or you have a community • for some, ability to access content is hampered • for some, risk of fake websites, credential theft,
 or political repercussions for accessing content • for some, privacy, assurance & trust is paramount
  3. 3. how does onion help? • greater assurance • facebookcorewwwi.onion => genuine facebook • greater availability • .onion => hard to block, hard to monitor • fewer digital footprints • people using onions are perforce using tor browser • tor browser is generally better at data "hygiene"
  4. 4. mobile ux? yes! • mac / win / linux • tor browser (integrated) • android • orbot (tor) + orfox (browser) • ios • onion browser • other ios in progress
  5. 5. so: what is .onion? top level domain name for the "onion" namespace
  6. 6. what is a namespace? • namespace is "an address & what it means/looks like" • ipv4 addresses look like: • ipv6 addresses look like: fe80::226:21ff:fed8:fbc2 • dns addresses look like: www.foo.com • onion addresses look like: ylzpg2givhwizoep.onion
  7. 7. how do addresses work? • all these addresses can be typed into a web browser: • ipv4, supported everywhere • http://[fe80::226:21ff:fed8:fbc2]/ - ipv6, variable • http://www.foo.com/ - dns, supported everywhere • http://ylzpu2givhwizoep.onion/ - needs tor browser • …they all connect you to a remote computer
  8. 8. how is .onion unusual? • "under the bonnet", an onion is a raw network address • …just like or fe80::226:21ff:fed8:fbc2 • but: it is formatted like a traditional dns domain name • ".onion" looks like ".com" or ".co.uk" • this means browsers treat the addresses equitably • including subdomains: www.facebookcorewwwi.onion
  9. 9. wait, subdomains on
 a network address? • yes! this would never work with ipv4 … • www. would not mean anything sensible • but www.facebookcorewwwi.onion is meaningful to HTTP • …still means facebookcorewwwi.onion • …the "www…" bit is transported in the Host: header • thus: standard HTTP/HTML/browser behaviour
  10. 10. how do you
 choose addresses? • ipv4 addresses: you take what you are given (mostly) • ipv6 addresses: ditto • dns addresses: you choose a name, & register it • …unless someone beats you to it… • onion addresses: you "mine" one, a little like bitcoin • more mining => "better quality" address
  11. 11. how to serve .onion? several options: 1. set up a dedicated website with duplicate content • e.g.: various dedicated onion sites 2. make your CMS aware of ".onion" domain/traffic • e.g.: facebook 3. install an onion shim • e.g.: propublica, new york times
  12. 12. 1. dedicated server • hypothetical: you have a separate web server, and it… • is configured to know about its onion address • serves duplicate content where necessary • essentially runs as a standalone service
  13. 13. 2. onion-aware CMS • hypothetical: you have a web server, and it… • serves content to .com, .co.uk, .za, .in, … • distinct content for each domain / different URLs • why not just add yet another domain name? • tag all requests arriving from your .onion • ensure that such tagged requests are properly responded-to, citing your onion address(es)
  14. 14. 3. onion shim • hypothetical: you have a web server, and it… • primarily serves content as (say) nytimes.com • install a shim between it and tor • which bidirectionally rewrites requests & responses • nytimes.com <=> nytimes3xbfgragh.onion • via custom engineering, or Enterprise Onion Toolkit
 (free, libre, open-source toolkit for enterprise onions)
  15. 15. summary
 (or: blend these together...) 1. dedicated onion site • rare, use-case dependent 2. onion-aware CMS • excellent for primarily-dynamically-generated content • modest engineering, ongoing commitment, can be 100% solution 3. onion shim • onionifies all content, including static or static/dynamic mix • minimal/zero engineering, some edge cases, 95..99%+ solution
  16. 16. notes • don't forget to onionify your CDN where possible • try to avoid content-leakage between domains • accidentally wandering-off to the .com site • e.g. OAuth redirects • use horizontal load-balancing for backend scale • free solution (onionbalance) exists • onions (even via rewriting) are astonishingly efficient
  17. 17. finally • you will almost certainly need to buy a special HTTPS cert • cost: probably from mid $$$ to low $$$$ • plus associated paperwork & faff • if you take payments / subscriptions? • you may want to restrict access to payments over tor? • chiefly because payment providers sometimes block tor, and this can lead to poor user experiences…
  18. 18. summary • this is an evolving environment! • provide additional access, security & safety opportunities for your audiences & communities! • cutting-edge experimental fun!