As previously announced, the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) now supports the resolution of Tor .onion addresses. This is just another way ENS is supporting things beyond the Ethereum ecosystem. You can read about how to use this new functionality here, and how secure it is here.
Anyone can set up an ENS name to resolve to a Tor .onion address (how to do that is explained here). But to demonstrate this feature and to get people using it, we have set up some ENS names to resolve to useful .onion websites.
To keep it easy to remember, they are all just the name of the service + tor.eth.
- DuckDuckGo: duckduckgotor.eth/
- Facebook: facebooktor.eth/
- Proton Mail: protonmailtor.eth/
- Tor Project: torprojecttor.eth/
- CIA.gov: ciagovtor.eth/
- ProPublica: propublicator.eth/
- NYTimes: nytimestor.eth/
- Keybase: keybasetor.eth/
- Hidden Answers: hiddenanswerstor.eth/
- Whonix: whonixtor.eth/
How to use these
Open your Tor Browser. Make sure you have the browser add-on MetaMask installed. And then simply type or paste in one of those names in the web address bar, including the final “/”. Hit enter, and then wait for ENS, MetaMask, and the Tor Browser to work their magic and… voilà, you should be at the respective Tor .onion website!
Why this matters
The Tor network is a part of the Internet that hides the IP addresses of users. You can access it with the Tor Browser, managed by the Tor Project. You can also set up websites that are only accessible via the Tor network, called onion services.
These Tor-only web addresses end with “.onion,” but otherwise the rest of the address is randomly generated. For example, to access the onion version of the privacy-centric search engine Duck Duck Go, in your Tor Browser (this will not work in a normal browser) you go to https://3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion/.
Trying to get human-readable .onion addresses has been an ongoing problem for many years, given the high bar for security. Since ENS is a decentralized naming service that runs as a set of smart-contracts on the Ethereum blockchain, we believe ENS can be a helpful tool to solve this problem.
Can I trust these names?
How does a Tor user know that these names will really resolve to where they say they do? You can read about the security in general of this setup here. But here are three things for you to know:
First, the records are public. You can go to our Manager, search for a name to display its records, and verify for yourself that the name is actually set to resolve to the correct .onion address.
Second, we have set up the records and then given up control of the names (transferring control to an address no one controls like “0x000000000000000000000000000000000000dEaD”), making it practically impossible for anyone to change the records. You can also verify this fact by checking a name’s records and seeing that both the Registrant and Controller are set to “0x000…0dEaD”.
Third, all of these names have been registered for five years. In ENS, even if control of the names have been given up, the registration for the names still has to be kept current (or else the name is released). To keep a .ETH name registered, someone has to pay $5/year in ETH.
ENS is set up so anyone can pay to renew any name, even if they don’t control the name (which, in the case of these names, nobody does). Registration fees can also be paid ahead as much as you’d like (e.g. you can pay $25 to renew a name for 5 years, as we have done).
If you support this project and would like to keep these names active for longer than five years, please feel free to contribute to their registration fees! You can do this by looking them up in our Manager in a browser with MetaMask and paying with ETH to lengthen their renewal period.
How does this naming system work?
You can read about how we’re accomplishing this (and why it’s useful) in this post.
How do I set up my own ENS name to resolve to a .onion address?
You can read how to do that here.
Why don’t you use [human-readable name].onion for naming .onion sites instead of .eth?
We certainly could! Since the Tor Project manages the TLD .onion, we’d simply need to work with them to integrate .onion as a TLD on ENS. If you are from the Tor Project (or know someone from it) and are interested in chatting with us, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.