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I do understand the point of the TOR network in order to anonymize your connections, especially in states where you don't have much liberties. That's probably a good thing.

However what is the point of creating the .onion domain? I mean on it there is only "illegal"/"bad thing" (selling drugs, weapons, etc...). If someone wants to write some content in repressive states, he can use the TOR network or VPN to get a hosting in a country where he can express what he wants.

So I understand the point the creation of the TOR network, it probably brings good thing to the humanity. But what about the .onion domain? I can see only bad things from that...

Please explain. Thank you.

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To my understanding the main point of an onion address is that they are free to be created yourself and publish within the Tor network. They require no central trust or regulating authority to setup and publish, therefore, in their very nature, help promote a free and open internet.

With "clearnet" sites, or, more specifically, sites registered under one of the ICANN top level domain names, we all rely on central regulating authorities. This involves mostly likely a fee that can vary widely depending on your domain name of choice. Also you are having to trust that the third party does not give your domain away to someone else for whatever reason they may choose.

As a web developer myself I find it pretty clever. I'm still new to this space but if I have been reading correctly I can publish my own website on the Tor network from my home PC, that I can then access from anywhere on the internet (once I connect to the Tor network from out in the world). All without having to register my domain to some third party, and pay yearly fees, as well as avoid paying for an SSL certificate (because I can generate the certificate for my onion site myself). As long as I don't overly care about the address of my personal site (which I intend only for personal use) this is a great, low to no cost approach to having a website ran from my home machine that I can then access elsewhere.

Use cases of an onion site are whatever you want it to be. Its advantage is that it is free to create. Its restriction is that it is always 16 characters, lowercase with numbers 2 through 7. And you don't have (too much) control over the name of it.

https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/wiki/doc/HiddenServiceNames https://www.expressvpn.com/blog/how-to-create-a-onion-address/

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On top of what @Darren Felton shared, .onion addresses also help fight man in the middle attacks. For clear-web sites, hackers can pretend to be you and the site by sitting in the middle and passing all the information back and forth after reading it, but because .onion addresses are their own hashed fingerprint, it is impossible to MitM attack them and as such you know you are talking directly to the host server of that .onion address. There are still other ways to watch the communication, of course, but you at least know you're talking to who you think you are.

  • Great feedback :) I would add that MitM attacks can also be mitigated on clear-net sites with use of HTTPS. I say "mitigated" because it is still possible if the attacker gets a hold of the keys to your certificate, or for that matter the keys to the certificate of the CA issuing your site's certificate. Something which has happened over the course of history of the internet, and when this happens to a trusted CA it impacts a large swath of people at once. – Darren Felton Oct 25 '18 at 16:43

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