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I briefly read that Tor hidden services use "Entry guards" in the circuit.

Is there any reason why I shouldn't use the same Tor instance for hosting a Tor hidden service and general internet browsing?

Thank you!

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There's no reason why you shouldn't host a hidden service and browse with Tor normally from the same connection. Be aware that running a Tor relay from the same server as a hidden service can compromise the anonymity of the hidden service.

http://cybermashup.com/2013/09/04/dont-run-a-tor-router-and-a-hidden-service-from-the-same-connection/

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An attacker that suspects you of running a hidden service could clog your connection (e.g. with a massive reply to an HTTP request) while concurrently monitoring the hidden service. It is always a matter of probability, but for some kind of services it can be pretty efficient.

The attack can also be done the other way: clogging the hidden service while keeping exchanging data with the client.

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Compared to relays, Tor instances used for hosting hidden services are much like regular clients used for browsing. They connect with the Tor network only through entry guards (currently three). However, both local observers and entry guards can distinguish Tor instances used for hosting hidden services. Given that they're serving content, download/upload ratios will be different. Also, if many clients are accessing a hidden service, there will be many more circuits, and all three entry guards may be heavily used.

The main point, however, is that it's a bad idea to host hidden services at home or at work, unless it's just a learning exercise.

  • This seems wrong, there shouldn't be anything wrong with hosting a hidden server at home. can you back up why it is a 'bad idea' – puser May 20 '14 at 12:29
  • Hosting a hidden service at home is a bad idea if its discovery would be problematic for you. If there's nothing that needs to be hidden, why bother running a hidden service? You could just run a normal webserver, and use HTTPS to protect users. Perhaps I'm overstating the case, but this is a point that needs emphasized. There's a tendency to rely too heavily on Tor's technology for anonymity, and ignore side-channel vulnerabilities, such as old posts on Stack Exchange ;) – mirimir May 21 '14 at 23:11
  • Well, this advice goes completely against the idea of a hidden server. or are you talking about if your location gets compromised and so they can then search your computers for any hidden services? – puser May 22 '14 at 10:07
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    @puser Betting everything on a hidden service remaining hidden is unwise. Have you read the literature on locating hidden services? It's better to hedge by hosting hidden services in anonymous hosted servers. While it's true that hosted servers are less physically secure, it's arguably wiser to risk the server than to risk yourself. – mirimir May 23 '14 at 0:23
  • I read a lot of them a while ago, aren't they all now outdated, relying on old exploits (though new ones will probably exist in the future). Also hosting it on another server relies on trusting someone elses server, which is also not idea. I think it depends on what your server is and who you are hiding from. Though in general you are probably correct. – puser May 23 '14 at 9:23

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