If I want to host a hidden service but I don't want people to know that the server is communicating to Tor, what can I do? Can I use obfs4? How to setup things?

  • You can't, it's just how fundamentally things work. You can't use bridges for hidden services.
    – user15578
    Commented Dec 23, 2016 at 19:30
  • That's mostly wrong. Tor instances that are hosting hidden services behave like clients, so you can use a bridge, though the new single hop onion service stuff will likely break.
    – user78
    Commented Dec 23, 2016 at 20:15

1 Answer 1


Yes, bridge and pluggable transport users are able to provide onion services over them.

Bridge users are just taking some extra steps to pick their guard (the bridge), use their guard as their directory server and possibly to use a pluggable transport to transform the traffic while it traverses the network to the guard. Outside of that there is nothing fundamentally different with how Tor operates that would interfere with running an onion service.

However, pluggable transports are built to defeat DPI. That is, upon naive inspection by some algorithm it would not look like a Tor connection. It would likely not stand up to an in-depth analysis of the traffic. It would not be impossible for an observer to determine that it was communicating with the Tor network.

  • 1
    That said, "people using it to mask hidden services" is not something that was a design consideration for any of the released pluggable transports, so expecting them to actually do anything will likely be disappointing at best.
    – user78
    Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 2:31
  • Yes, but it would be suitable to bypass vanilla Tor filters on some network, for use cases like OnionShare or Ricochet.
    – cacahuatl
    Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 2:38
  • 1
    This depends on how resourceful and clever the adversaries are. Ultimately the only thing I view obfs4 as any good for is bypassing dumb DPI boxes, because that's what I designed it to do.
    – user78
    Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 3:17
  • I agree, I've added a note to clarify this point.
    – cacahuatl
    Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 4:00

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