Slicing the Onion: An introduction to the Onion Routing

August 25, 2023

When you first searched for information about terms like “Tor network”, “deep web” or “dark web” you probably ended up learning two main key characteristics about this world: 1) The Tor network is the most well-known mechanism for gaining anonymity on the Internet and 2) there are plenty of articles and sites explaining the huge number of hidden and non-indexed websites and services in this, at first, unknown environment called the “deep web”.

In this article, we will make a superficial technical dive into the protocol that defines what we know today as the Tor network (a.k.a.“The Onion Router”), which is key to understand the security features offered to you as a user, as well as the vulnerabilities to which you may be potentially exposed. Please make sure to have a basic understanding of cryptography and networking before continuing with this article. 

There are several terms I would like to define and clarify to avoid misunderstandings with other articles that you may read on the Internet:

  1. The deep web and the Tor network are not the same thing. The deep web is a term used to refer to the collection of websites not indexed by common search engines (like Google or Bing), while the Tor network is an actual infrastructure used to route traffic to either the deep web, dark web, or any conventional website.
  2. it is important to note that the “deep web” and “dark web” have only one difference. From a technical perspective, the “dark web” refers....

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