Tor at the Heart: OnionShare

by micah | December 23, 2016

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By Micah Lee

In August 2013, David Miranda was detained for nine hours and searched at Heathrow Airport in London while he was trying to board a plane back home to Rio de Janeiro. Working on a journalism assignment for the Guardian, he was carrying an encrypted USB stick that contained classified government documents. When I first learned about this story, I knew there must be safer ways to move sensitive documents across the world than physically carrying them, one that didn’t involve putting individual people at risk from border agents and draconian “terrorism” laws that are used to stifle award-winning journalism.

Here’s how I would have done it: In Berlin (where the secret files originated), I would set up a local web server on my computer, that isn’t accessible from the internet. The only thing on the website would be a download link to an encrypted file that contained the secret documents. Then I would setup a Tor onion service -- one of the coolest and most under-appreciated technologies on the internet, in my opinion -- to make this simple website accessible from a special “.onion” domain name. I would send my colleague in Rio (in this case, Glenn Greenwald) the URL to the onion service. He would open it in Tor Browser and download the encrypted file. As soon as he finished the download, I would stop the local web server and remove the onion service, so it would no longer be on the internet at all.

Of course, the problem is that while this may be simple for seasoned nerds like myself, it’s not for many journalists, activists, or lawyers who run into similar problems on a regular basis. Inspired by this idea, I developed a simple and user-friendly open source tool called OnionShare that automates this process. You open OnionShare, drag some files into it, and click the “Start Sharing” button. After a moment, OnionShare gives you URL that looks something like http://4a7kqhcc7ko6a5rd.onion/logan-chopin. You send this URL to someone you’d like to share files with, and they load it using Tor Browser and download the files directly from the web server running on your computer. The moment the download is complete, OnionShare shuts down the web service, the URL no longer works, and the files you shared disappear from the internet. (Since OnionShare runs a server directly on your computer, this also means that your computer needs to be online for the URL to work -- if you suspend your laptop, for example, the URL won’t work until you get back online.)

Onionshare server side

Onionshare client side

I’m the developer of OnionShare, but I have no idea how many users it has. I consider this a feature. It’s completely decentralized, anonymous, and private. I don’t run a central service -- instead, every user runs their own short-lived service, often only for a few minutes, and that service disappears as soon as they finish sharing their files.

However, I do know that people use it. I use it on a regular basis myself while working on sensitive journalism projects with my colleagues at The Intercept. Sources use it to send me and other journalists documents. I’ve heard from digital security trainers that OnionShare is used by the Movement for Black Lives in the United States, and by activists in Latin America. A European human rights lawyer told me that their client in Africa used it to send them sensitive files.

What OnionShare protects against:

  • Third parties don't have access to files being shared. The files are hosted directly on the sender's computer and don't get uploaded to any server. Instead, the sender's computer becomes the server. Traditional ways of sending files, like in an email or using a cloud hosting service like Dropbox or Google Drive, require trusting the service with access to the files being shared.
  • Network eavesdroppers can't spy on files in transit. Because connections between Tor onion services and Tor Browser are end-to-end encrypted, no network attackers can eavesdrop on the shared files while the recipient is downloading them. If the eavesdropper is positioned on the sender's end, the recipient's end, or is a malicious Tor node, they will only see Tor encrypted traffic.
  • Anonymity of sender and recipient are protected by Tor. OnionShare and Tor Browser protect the anonymity of the users. As long as the sender anonymously communicates the OnionShare URL with the recipient, the recipient and eavesdroppers can't learn the identity of the sender.
  • If an attacker enumerates the onion service, the shared files remain safe. There have been attacks against the Tor network that can enumerate onion services. If someone discovers the .onion address of an OnionShare onion service, they still cannot download the shared files without knowing the full URL, and OnionShare has rate-limited to protect against attempts to guess the URL.

What OnionShare doesn't protect against:

  • Communicating the OnionShare URL might not be secure. The sender is responsible for securely communicating the OnionShare URL with the recipient. If they send it insecurely (such as through an email message, and their email is being monitored by an attacker), the eavesdropper will learn that they're sending files with OnionShare. If the attacker loads the URL in Tor Browser before the legitimate recipient gets to it, they can download the files being shared. If this risk fits the sender's threat model, they must find a more secure way to communicate the URL, such as in an encrypted email, chat, or voice call. This isn't necessary in cases where the files being shared aren't secret.
  • Communicating the OnionShare URL might not be anonymous. While OnionShare and Tor Browser allow for anonymously sending files, if the sender wishes to remain anonymous they must take extra steps to ensure this while communicating the OnionShare URL. For example, they might need to use Tor to create a new anonymous email or chat account, and only access it over Tor, to use for sharing the URL. This isn't necessary in cases where there's no need to protect anonymity, such as coworkers who know each other sharing work documents.

You can find the source code for OnionShare here, and you download it from its website here.


Please note that the comment area below has been archived.

December 23, 2016


I tested all the free "Cloud" services out there: Google Drive, Dropbox, ... to send a 'big' 4Go zip file, in all cases the upload would terminate at some point due to my terrible connection, and I didn't have the patience to continue. Then I learned about OnionShare and I've never been more happy! Even do I don't care much about the privacy side, OS managed to finish the zip transfer. Thank you Micah!

December 23, 2016


To get around the URL exchange (key exchange) issue you could either:
a) Pre-generate a fully random service public key and share it face-to-face before departing
b) Use one of the following to generate a predetermined string for the URL that the other party already gave you…
c) If only the keys were ECC Curve 25519, you could generate them deterministically from a shared secret and a windowed timestamp.

I agree that's a huge feature.

I think the original person was asking about how to get the url to your recipient though.

And for that, yes, Ricochet or the like is not a bad answer -- "however you do secure metadata-resistant messaging now."

(It seems to me that Signal and email are less good, because you leave clear metadata right before doing the thing that doesn't leave clear metadata, so you undermine your security properties.)

There isn't an OnionShare for Android yet, but I have talked with people from Guardian Project (who made Orbot) who have some interest in it.

CameraV, a secure camera app that Guardian Project made, already has some support for sharing via onion service. If you dig through the source code that feature uses something called libonionshare :).

December 23, 2016


It is very interesting and i did 'nt know this tool :
OnionShare : where are the steps to install a server on his own computer ?
OnionShare : do i need to install a server version of an operating system or only download & set up it ?
OnionShare : do i need to create an onion service before or does it every time that i wish send a file ?
OnionShare : can i send encrypted file (so it must be encrypted on the server onion * mine installed on the local folder , right ?) ?
OnionShare : has it a pgp key ?
OnionShare : has it a test page _ a server user test under the responsibility of the tor team or the maintainer (yourself is 'nt it ?)
OnionShare : whitout a pgp key verifying the download/installation & clear answer to simple questions ; it is a difficult to give it a try blindly.

URL : Whare are you thinking about these 2 ways to communicate the url :
URL : SMS4TOR is a Tor-friendly version of PrivNote : http://sms4tor3vcr2geip.onion/
Secure Messaging System for TOR
Anonymous Encrypted Messages That Self-destruct When Read
URL : i wonder if ricochet could be used and if my email could do the job.

Under the hood, OnionShare starts a web server and creates a Tor onion service for you. But this is all completely invisible to the user -- you don't even have to realize that it does this to use it. It works in Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, and literally all you have to do to use it is:

1. Open Tor Browser in the background (OnionShare needs it for its tor process)
2. Open OnionShare, drag files into it, and click "Start Sharing"

That's it. That's all you need to do to set up the server on your own computer. Then finally:

3. Send the OnionShare URL to the person you're sharing the file with. They need to open the URL in Tor Browser, and then they can download the file.

You can send encrypted files, or you can send plaintext files. It also lets you send folders full of files. It's all up to you. However onion services are end-to-end encrypted, so pre-encrypting files manually yourself (like with PGP) just gives you an extra layer of encryption, but isn't strictly necessary.

As far as sharing the URL, it depends on your threat model. In many cases, it's probably fine to just send a private message on Twitter or Facebook -- it's unlikely that an attacker will see the URL, open it in Tor Browser, and download the file _before_ the intended recipient gets it. However it's always safest to use encryption to share the URL -- like a Signal message, a PGP email, and OTR chat.

It should definitely be able to run on a Raspberry Pi -- and in fact, I believe it's in Debian contrib already, so you likely can just "apt-get install onionshare" from your Pi running Raspbian (although, the version in Debian is very old, so I'd build it from source to get the newest version).

But Tor Browser itself isn't support for Raspberry Pis because they use arm processors. So in you'll have to do a few tweaks to make OnionShare work with your system tor. The next version of OnionShare will include better support for working with a system tor.

I don't know if it's portable, as in only writes to its own directory, like Tor Browser is, but if it is then you could definitely run it from removable media. You could try running it from a chroot installed on the removable drive, if you're so inclined.

I don't see any reason you couldn't run it on a Raspberry Pi. It's written in python so it should be architecture-independent. Depending on which distro you're using, you might have to build it yourself like the other commenter says, but that should be quite possible.

December 23, 2016



December 23, 2016


What I like the most about onionshare is that it forces the receiver to use Tor, and if he gets things wrong the *.onion link wont even work

December 23, 2016


This is the first time I heard about OnionShare. I especially like how the client user doesn't have to install anything besides Tor Browser. Maybe someday OnionShare will also be able to accept files from the client, uploaded in the browser?

Just a question. Does it bundle and manage its own Tor client (like Tor Browser + Tor Launcher)? Or does it expect to be able to connect to an already running SOCKSPort and ControlPort?

Thanks for the tip. I suppose that's an alternative, but it comes with some drawbacks. For one thing, it's centralized, which means that a server compromise could leak the files, whereas OnionShare creates temporary ad-hoc servers. Also, I think you have to register with Secure Drop to receive files, making it only pseudonymous. It would be good for certain use cases, but it's not that much different from using Drop Box or Google Drive, or even an anonymous (as in, no registration) Megaupload-style service, other than being accessible by .onion only.

I didn't want the responsibility of shipping my own version of tor, so the user needs to provide their own. The easiest way to use OnionShare is to just open Tor Browser in the background, and OnionShare will use its tor.

And in terms of using OnionShare to accept files, I hope to support this eventually. Here's the open issue for it:

December 23, 2016

In reply to micah



Yes. OnionShare doesn't come with its own version of Tor, it uses one you already have, like your Tor Browser. So if you configure Tor Browser to use a bridge, OnionShare will too.

It already is! It's in contrib though, not main:

The reason it's in contrib is because it currently has a dependency for torbrowser-launcher, which is also in contrib. But I'm hoping to drop that dependency in the next version, and get it in main instead.

I also run an Ubuntu PPA, that has newer versions of OnionShare in it:

December 24, 2016

In reply to micah


You are my hero!

Will check it out later.

Can you help ensure that OONI is better integrated with Debian infrastructure and with the onion services repositories? And to persuade Debian to ensure that there are Debian mirrors for the *entire* vast Debian repository?

If you get a chance, please pass on the warm regards of an utterly random Tor user to our man in Moscow :-)

Oh my, the dirty b-ds, a certain evil-minded Congressional committee waited until all the tech-minded editorialists (in particular Glenn Greenwald) were on vacation before suddenly releasing their absurdly counterfactual "report", which is actually a fine example of the kind of "fake news" we can expect from USG's new Ministry of Propaganda (the Global Engagement Center under the US State Department which was just created by a few lines in the NDAA).

On the bright side, the timing shows our enemies believe the tech community is effective at preventing the bad guys from always getting whatever they want.

I just hope FBI is not following the same tactic (as it has done before) by suddenly attacking Tor network while key people are on vacation.

December 24, 2016

In reply to micah


Suggest updating your documentation about Debian installation to point this out.

December 24, 2016

In reply to micah


> But I'm hoping to drop that dependency in the next version, and get it in main instead.

Another good reason to do that: Debian users can then obtain it using the onion service mirrors of the main section of the Debian repositories.

But in any case, I hope Peter P can get onion service mirrors of the *complete* Debian repositories very soon!

December 23, 2016


@ Micah:

Are you and/or Tor Project working with Citizen Lab to capture and reverse engineer samples of (possibly state-sponsored) malware attacking Tor users?

Would Onionshare be a suitable way to share malware samples with Citizen Lab?

December 23, 2016


In order to use Onionshare, are there any restrictions on your local (desktop) or LAN firewall?

As far as I can tell, if your Tor client can reach the Tor network (you can browse with Tor Browser), then you can use OnionShare. Onion services have a side-effect of NAT traversal.

Nope. If you can connect to Tor, OnionShare will work too. You won't need to do any configuration to your network at all. This is one of the magical things about Tor onion services, they slice through all inbound firewalls like NAT.

December 24, 2016

In reply to micah


Allow me to disagree, using Ubuntu I have my firewall configured so that it only allows access on ports 80 and 443, which is enough for Tor Browser to work. However when I click on "start sharing" in Onionshare, it crashes the program. Works fine when I allow all outgoing traffic in Gufw.
Or maybe I am doing something wrong??

December 24, 2016

In reply to micah



Sometimes people need to pass something (e.g. a hard drive or USB with forensic image of same) through US customs but do not wish to give up passphrases. For example, trying to get CitizenLab help in investigating suspected state-sponsored malware.

More generally, people relocating need to pass through customs but don't want to give up the passphrase to the detached hard drive containing their entire life. Could Onionshare be used like this?

o set up webserver to be active in certain narrow time frame, with protected access to the original LUKS encrypted hard drive with tarball backup,

o leave old country and set up in new country,

o buy new detached hard drive, computer, etc. in new country,

o use Onionshare to retrieve the original tarball and reconstitute ones life.

Could be useful for journalists, mineral exploration engineers, political dissidents, etc.

That could work, but if the server crashes or becomes inaccessible for any reason when you're a thousand miles away, you'll need some way to get it running again.

In this case, it is more reliable to encrypt the file and upload it to an anonymous DropBox account or the like, since nothing needs to be running once the file is uploaded. This solution also allows you to use a user-generated password and encryption passphrase, avoiding writing down an .onion URL or Tahoe-LAFS "cap" that Customs could find in your baggage/pocket and use to download the file themselves.

You might also consider Tahoe-LAFS, which doesn't require the uploader to be online when the file is downloaded (but keep an eye out for storage servers' garbage collection algorithms!), although this is much more difficult to setup.

I recommend a CCC talk called "Crypto Tales from the Trenches" in which a panel of journalists discuss securely traveling with documents.

December 23, 2016


@ Shari, Micah:

As you know, urged on by embattled FBI Director James Comey, the know-nothings in the US Congress are continuing to scream for mandatory backdoors in all civilian encryption, or even a ban on civilian encryption. And the Trump campaign has signaled strong support for the know-nothings.

One of the most effective ways to decisively remove this threat would be to persuade essential "civilian" USG agencies to adopt onion services. And one of the most essential "civilian" USG agencies--- so essential that even Trump promised not to attack it, although his extremist advisors appear to be reneging on that promise--- is the Social Security Administration. And SSA has a enormous problem which I think Onionshare could fix.

The problem is that SSA needs to share extremely personal/sensitive/dangerous information on essentially all US citizens in order to administer the program. In particular, it often needs to obtain the complete medical files of individual citizens from their medical provider(s), including such highly sensitive items as interviews by psychologists. However, SSA's core computer system is so antiquated, and the workforce so limited, that SSA has experienced great difficulty in using suitably strong encryption. The result is that in almost all portions of the USA, the default is for medical providers to share files with SSA (and each other) by sending them by unencrypted fax.

I hardly need explain why this is so dangerous, but would like to stress the fact that some of us have been warning for years that in the 21st century, no citizen is too small-fry or too innocent to be attacked by professional spooks with extensive resources, not infrequently including spooks working for the government of some nation regarded by USG as an adversary. And during the past year, agencies running the gamut from NSA to CIA to FBI have joined the chorus of warning voices.

It seems that if Onionshare can scale to the enormous volumes required, it might be just what SSA has been looking for, because the system requirements and employee expertise appear to be sufficiently modest that SSA could adopt it if it provided some high bandwidth Tor nodes to help accommodate the increased network flow. It may be just a matter of TorProject giving SSA officials a few briefings to get a test program set up to demonstrate the potential of Onionshare for solving SSA's biggest technical problem.

More generally, it seems that Onionshare could be just what hospitals and other medical providers need to securely share highly sensitive patient files. The same goes for law offices.

Somewhat worrisome: law enforcement agencies, jails, and court networks also share enormous volumes of highly sensitive information on US citizens, using woefully inadequate security, and Onionshare could solve their problems too. I hate to think of Tor Network carrying information on behalf of the Surveillance State, but there is no better way of killing off FBI's attacks on onion services than by persuading its local "partners" that since they shouldn't be trying to beat us, they should be pleading for us to help them join us.

I point to the example of Wikipedia as a project which grew from something very tiny (two employees) to something which the whole world regards as an essential resource. In the same way, because Tor Project provides a number of comparatively easy to use cross platform services which solve a broad range of critical infrastructure problems for which no other solutions appear to exist, I believe it now has the potential to make itself equally indispensable.

Of course, enormous growth to Wikipedia scale carries significant risks which TP has never previously confronted, but that would be a suitable topic for discussion in the future. The first task is to work hard to get agencies like SSA willing to seriously consider what onion services have to offer. I suspect that NIST could be very helpful here.

> @ Shari, Micah:
# if it is a private message to @ Shari, Micah: write them with your favorite e-mail or use OnionShare (where is your or their pgp key ? and your photo ?)
# you are boring us with your stupid propaganda
> Wikipedia
# you are boring us with your stupid propaganda
> but there is no better way of killing off FBI's attacks on onion services than by persuading its local "partners" that since they shouldn't be trying to beat us, they should be pleading for us to help them join us.
# you are boring us with your stupid propaganda
Nota Bene : encryption is not a right ; banning, allowing ,regulating, surveying, monitoring, licensing, have nothing to do with the encryption protocol or model or code. It is their infrastructure and their potential client ; the worst was avoided because trump was elected legally-fairly-rightly.

Wow, you really had to finish your complaint about being off-topic with a trump pitch? :)

I'm going to close this part of the thread so it doesn't turn into name-calling.

December 24, 2016

In reply to arma


I hope you will reconsider, for at least two reasons:

o TP should not make it so easy for our enemies to censor comments expressing views which they dislike as "make nasty comments and watch Roger shut down the thread"

o You should know by now that I am not as volatile as the... er, cited media personality :-) and am not likely to react to our troll by calling names.

If you are getting many hate comments, this is regrettable, but you should never forget who are the friends and who are the enemies of the Project.

The cyberwoes of SSA are sufficiently glaring to have caught the eye of the Congress:…
How did the government’s technology get so bad?
Joe Uchill
13 Dec 2016

> The Social Security Administration was one of the first groups in government to
adopt a big-data approach to operations. Once an international leader in cutting-edge technology, the administration was “pushing the edge,” said the agency’s chief information officer, Robert Klopp. “ IBM was scrambling to make systems big enough to solve the complex problems we’d pose.” Forty years later, times have changed, and much of the core software running the Social Security Administration is pushing a different kind of edge. Despite decades of improvements to commercial technology that have made it more secure, efficient and cost-effective, the administration uses a core system that is more than 30 years old.

>> The problem is that SSA needs

Another big problem is authentication. This might help:…
This low-cost device may be the world’s best hope against account takeovers
Privacy-preserving “cryptographic assertions” are impossible to guess or phish.
Dan Goodin
23 Dec 2016

>>> The past five years have witnessed a seemingly unending series of high-profile account take-overs. A growing consensus has emerged among security practitioners: even long, randomly generated passwords aren't sufficient for locking down e-mail and other types of online assets. According to the consensus, these assets need to be augmented with a second factor of authentication. Now, a two-year study of more than 50,000 Google employees concludes that cryptographically based Security Keys beat out smartphones and most other forms of two-factor verification.

Let's put an onion in every Social Security office and a keydrive in every pocket!

December 23, 2016


Any chance of getting Onionshare incorporated into Tor Messenger?

(Someone already said that Tails Project is considering incorporating Tor Messenger, which seems to fit with Onionshare to make a very powerful and convenient way for sources to share sensitive files with journalists, or for human rights groups to share information across international boundaries.)

December 23, 2016

In reply to micah


I think the question was about creating a Tor Messenger plugin that automates OnionShare.

I don't see much benefit to that. It's already pretty easy to run OnionShare by itself, and if you're using XMPP over Tor Messenger, you can send files directly to the other user. I assume files are encrypted the same way messages are, be it PGP, OTR, OMEMO, or whatever. I would have to look into it to be sure, but if that's the case, OnionShare would only be advantageous in the event of a passive attack when you're not using end-to-end crypto on the conversation.

> I think the question was about creating a Tor Messenger plugin that automates OnionShare.

Are you referring to the comment which begins

>> Any chance of getting Onionshare incorporated into Tor Messenger?

I didn't have anything specific in mind.

We must always to be careful to make judicious choices between making something user-friendly, making it cross-platform, and making it secure (often three mutually contradictory goals, alas), but I trust Micah to do that well.

December 24, 2016


OnionShare doesn't protect you against bad HSDir relay operators stealing your top secret files.

Actually, it does! To reach the onionshare server and fetch the file, you need to know both the onion address and the rest of the url.

A jerk who runs a relay to learn onion addresses still doesn't learn the url, so he won't be able to reach the file.


December 24, 2016

In reply to arma


Yup! That's why URLs looks like: http://asxmi4q6i7pajg2b.onion/egg-cain

The "egg-cain" part is randomly generated. If you don't know that part, you get a 404 error when you load the URL. And it's rate limited, so it's unfeasible guess it by brute force.

Also, future versions of OnionShare will support stealth onion services, so (if you use them) bad HSDir relay operators won't even be able to attempt reach the 404 page without the HidServAuth cookie.

December 24, 2016


I wanted this tool, but my setup is customized. It would be horrible to allow third party scripts to change my system Tor setups in such a way I don't understand. In onionshare docs everything is explained simply: it makes everything well, it guesses configuration well, and so on, just trust it! But it cannot convince me. Tor is the last mile on my security.

I use separate VM for tor applications, and none of traffic from my machine can bypass Tor because of firewalls. I could run separate two scripts or instructions: one for my VM, to start HTTP server, and another for my host system, creating new hidden service. I didn't find any information how to do it. Certainly I can read the code or create standard onion service to make it working with full understanding, but I would like to see some docs that make it easier.

Can onionshare be used in such cases, where tor and its applications are running in different machines? Since my host system knows my real IP, I don't this it is good idea to use it to run HTTP server (even temporary), I want to run HTTP server in VM.

OnionShare doesn't modify your configuration at all. But it does need access to your Tor control port, because this is necessary to create ephemeral Tor onion services. There's currently an issue to get it working in transparently torified environments like you're describing:

Specifically, it would be great if OnionShare could work in operating systems like Tails and Whonix, and it soon will. (Also, since Ricochet works in a very similar fashion, the same work can be used to make that awesome tool work in Tails and Whonix as well.)

But as far as needing to trust the OnionShare source code, this function is hopefully pretty easy to read, and is the only bit where it tries to find a working Tor control port to connect to:…

It tries port 9151 (Tor Browser), port 9153 (Tor Messenger), and port 9051 (system tor), before it fails. If you set the TOR_CONTROL_PORT environment variable, it will just try that one. Also, in an upcoming version, you'll also be able to set a control port password, so that it will be easier to use OnionShare with your system Tor, without needing to open Tor Browser.

But keep in mind: if you're in a transparently torified environment and your apps can connect to the Tor control port, they can deanonymize you. You need some sort of control port filter software. It might make sense for you to replace your custom setup with Whonix, since it's VM based -- they have put a ton of thought and work into making all of this stuff just work. And while you're at it, you might want to use Qubes, which has Whonix support built-in, and does a much better job at compartmentalization using VMs than anything you can bootstrap onto some other OS.

December 24, 2016


“If you use a filesharing service like Dropbox or Mega or whatever, you basically have to trust them. The file could end up in the hands of law enforcement. This tool lets you bypass all third parties, so that the file goes from one person to another over the Tor network completely anonymously.”
--Micah Lee

December 24, 2016


I feel like Onionshare needs more publicity, I only learned about it in this blog! (also a good "intro" video on youtube would help introducing it)

Yes, that could be an effective way of reaching many more potential users than the readers of this blog.

I am starting to think onionshare could be the "killer app" which enables Tor Project to grow from a tiny NGO to something more the size of Wikipedia. (That kind of growth is not without dangers of its own, but it would certainly tend to blunt our urgent concern that something next year, the Trump administration might simply declare TP an illegal organization, which would be a problem if TP is still registered as a US based entity.)

December 24, 2016



> Here’s how I would have done it: ... all.
OnionShare needs 2 operators but let's try with one :
- so if i let a laptop runs on in a room before taking the plane i could _when i should arrive at rio_ download my files with a link ; so in a way , i download my own files from one of my computer to another mine from 2 different place using onion sharing to bypass "draconian laws". The link is transmitted by pgp on my email account. But i need to let running one computer 10 hours (this travel takes time) and the link must be sent before.

* Does OnionShare run when the computer is in suspend or hibernate mode ?
i do not think so because Tor is not a service running in the background /an intel backdoor (who knows , maybe in a near future or in an unknown past ?).
- But should it possible if i should write a profil in a maintenance mode or a script managing all in cli ?

* Could i short the step and the open-time with the help of some options ?
i would like that :
- tor opens itself then
- onionshare be set up to send the folder i chose by default
- onionshare sends itself the link in my account encrypted with my pgp
- and that one hour after i arrive at rio.
My fist computer runs few minutes , the time to perform some actions automatically and if the timing is well managed i save 10 hours.

* Does a timer script from this model/idea/suggestion break OnionShare or improve it?
* Does a timer script running in suspend or hibernate mode from this model/idea/suggestion break OnionShare or improve it ?

Thank you.

December 24, 2016


I am not a programmer but have been reading the comments anyway for what I can pick up from them.

I'm interested to know why the people who have posted here and expressed concern about government surveillance, or who otherwise feel threatened by some degree of lack of Internet privacy that might, however, serve to protect the general public, view it as such a major concern.

In short, if back doors prevent terrorist attacks it would appear that they may be worth some sacrifice of privacy.

If you're a programmer, and not also a terrorist, how does that threaten you?

Hoo boy. I suggest you go read all the fuss about the Apple backdoor discussion, rather than trying to recreate it here.

Also read…

One of the key things to realize is that backdoors *don't* prevent terrorist attacks. In fact, they do the opposite, because they undermine the security of the system for everyone (because the backdoor is never going to stay only usable by whoever you classify as the good guy). So they harm the innocent people without helping much against the bad guys. And that's even ignoring the question of whose bad guys you want to catch -- the Western-government-mandated "lawful intercept" backdoors in Internet routers are regularly used by e.g. the Saudi regime to spy on their citizens. Also check out the misuses by the Italian and Greek governments to spy on politician's phone calls.

The politicians keep imagining that we can somehow alter reality and build a backdoor that only good guys can use. They are not understanding how software works.

You might enjoy some of the stuff Joe Hall writes at cdt, e.g.…

Hope this helps! :)

December 25, 2016

In reply to arma


You 'prove' that "backdoors *don't* prevent terrorist attacks" by claiming that they also "harm the innocent people" (without explaining how). That's a non-sequitur. How do you know that it hasn't prevented any terrorist attacks? How many would it have to prevent for you to consider it worthwhile? (Wouldn't even one be enough?)

I don't think building "a backdoor that only good guys can use" is the point. If the information back doors provide is used in good faith, investigators will have their hands full in the pursuit of terrorists and other criminals. They are not going to concern themselves with innocuous communications.

There is always the danger that nefarious parties will abuse this, i.e., not act in good faith. So, as with anything else in the relations between government and citizens, there has to be checks and balances.

I don't, however, see surveillance of the kind that's in effect or anticipated here under Trump as an automatic conduit to a totalitarian society or to harm of the innocent. (I'm also not concerned about what happens in Saudi Arabia or other places where abuse is the norm. We can't ensure virtue in the rest of the world, but we can make a serious attempt at it here, including in the application of surveillance.)

Unlike some websites, here you can expect responses from thoughtful people who know about technology/software and who are accustomed to using statistical theory to make "evidence based" decisions. And to harshly criticizing technical flaws in hardware/software, "dirty" data, overblown statistical claims, and faulty "evidence-based" procedures.

> How do you know that it hasn't prevented any terrorist attacks? How many would it have to prevent for you to consider it worthwhile? (Wouldn't even one be enough?)

Dramatic appeals to unvalidated fears of a poorly specified hypothetical event? No, that is not at all how honest risk assessment works. Let us know if you are willing to learn how a state-of-the-art (but "conservative" rather than "wild bleeding edge") risk assessment procedure would begin looking at this problem. Or you can just read the widely admired award winning paper

Susan Landau et al., Keys Under Doormats, MIT CSAIL, Jul 2015

(Available online, better for you to search for it than for me to provide a link which might not work for you.)

Sounds like you have not read any of Bruce Schneier's superbly written, wide ranging, and enormously useful books on security issues, including both cybersecurity and physical security. If you want to discuss "encryption backdoors" or "terrorism" here, you probably should.

Without intending to imply anything about the psychology or world view of OP:

Here is a very short article (reprinted from Scientific American) which should be useful reading for anyone who arguing with someone who appears to be unshakably convinced that "global warming is fake news invented by Putin" [sic], "I'm not doing anything wrong so I don't need no stinking privacy!" [sic], "the government should be able to access any device or data", etc.:…
No ad hominem, no ad Hitlerum: How to convince someone when facts fail
Why worldview threats undermine evidence
Michael Shermer, Scientific American
26 Dec 2016

Please note:

o the worldview which is threatened by the continued existence of strong civilian encryption, Tor, Tails, OnionShare, Tahoe-LAFS, etc, is essentially authoritarian and nationalistic,

o in this subthread, we are still at the stage of presenting facts to the OP in hope of changing minds one or two at a time.

You have heard that FBI wants to outlaw strong citizen cryptography by mandating the insertion of "backdoors".

You say you don't understand why every cryptographer on the face of the planet says that is a terrible idea. Here is an authoritative prize-winning white paper which answers your question:

Susan Landau et al., Keys Under Doormats, MIT CSAIL, Jul 2015

Another way to understand why "backdoors" into encrypted communications, social media accounts, etc, are a terrible idea is to learn what governments which have already outlawed strong cryptography have done with their own backdoors. So please read next a random selection of reports at

Since you appeared to cite the hoary "I'm not doing anything wrong, so I have nothing to hide" fallacy, please read these essays:………

But it's also crucially important to understand further implications of the dragnet which are not likely to have occurred to anyone who believes "I'm not doing anything wrong, so I have nothing to hide", so please read these authoritative whitepapers:

John Villasenor, Recording Everything, Brookings, Dec 2011

Internet Enemies, Reporters without Borders, 2012

Walter Perry et al., Predictive Policing, RAND, 2013

Michael Price, National Security and Local Police, Brennan Center, 2013

Paul Davis et. al, Using Behavioral Indicators to Detect Potential Violent Acts, RAND, 2013

Frank La Rue, Report of the Special Rapporteur, UN General Assembly, Apr 2013

Tim Maurer et al, Uncontrolled Global Surveillance, New America Foundation, Mar 2014

Pam Dixon and Robert Gellman, Scoring of America, World Privacy Forum, Apr 2014

John Podesta et al., Big Data, White House, May 2014

These are available on-line (try duckduckgo and keep looking; the ones behind paywalls can be found elsewhere):


o Brookings, yes, the US NGO which US President Richard Nixon wanted to firebomb,

o RAND: yes, the defense contractor; sometimes they say smart things such as "the mission of NCTC is mathematically impossible", in which case USG ignores their own advisors,

o White House: yes, the House of War Criminals; sometimes they do good by accident,

o Podesta: yes, the same guy who ignored warnings his email inbox had been breached.

You appeared to cite the hoary "security or privacy is a binary choice" fallacy. So you should read some books which debunk that misconception.

You also appeared to hint at a belief that USIC and LEAs are working to protect the ordinary citizen. So you should read some books which debunk that misconception.

So here are some books I think you should read, listed by my own short summaries of the relevant thesis of each book:

o surveillance/security not a binary choice:

Susan Landau, Surveillance or Security?, MIT Press, 2010

o CIA is utterly utterly incompetent and purely evil:

Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes, Anchor, 2007

o CIA is a state-sponsored collective of war-criminals:

Stephen Grey, Ghost Plane, St. Martin's Press, 2006

o FBI is utterly incompetent and purely evil (plus, why FBI hates ACLU so much):

Tim Weiner, Enemies, Random House, 2012

o NSA is purely evil, terrifyingly powerful, but no means invincible:

James Bamford, The Puzzle Palace

James Bamford, Body of Secrets, Anchor, 2002

James Bamford, The Shadow Factory, Doubleday, 2008

Matthew Aid, The Secret Sentry, Bloomsbury, 2009

o it helps to know your enemy, so read this book NSA didn't want to be published:

David Kahn, The Codebreakers, MacMillan, 1967

o much better to be a good guy than a bad guy:

Steven Levy, crypto, Viking, 2001

o malware-as-a-service companies such as Gamma and Hacking Team are pure evil:

Ronald Deibert, Black Code, Random House, 2013

o militarized policing is stupid and self-destructive:

Radley Balko, Rise of the Warrior Cop, Public Affairs, 2014

o military =/= strength, nations which tolerate povery are doomed for death:

Catherine Bestemen and Hugh Gusterson (eds), The Insecure American, UC Press, 2010

o Corporate surveillance is pervasive, dehumanizing, and terribly dangerous:

Julia Angwin, Dragnet Nation, Henry Holt, 2014

o Surveillance generally is pervasive, dehumanizing, and terribly dangerous:

Christian Parenti, The Soft Cage, Basic Books, 2003

Bruce Schneier, Data and Goliath, Norton & Norton, 2015

o the confluence of government/corporate dragnets with Big Data is terrifying:

Cathy O'Neill, Weapons of Math Destruction, Crown, 2016

o the greatest danger of all: CVE and real-time-auto-updated robotic "citizenship" scoring:

(!!! No book has yet appeared on CVE programs !!!)

That's partly my fault. Shari posted the blog post originally, then I made a blog account so Micah can answer comments, and I swapped his name in as the author so his comments would have boxes around them.

I think leaving that line in isn't so bad. :)

December 26, 2016


It seems that if you have contrib section in your repositories, you still need to add Micah's key to APT before you can install onionshare. I haven't experienced this with other packages in contrib and hope the reason why is *not* that contrary to my naive expectations, Debian allows people to install unauthenticated software without warning.

Does anyone know the reason?

One of the depedencies drawn in startled me: python-isdangerous. Even after reading the description of what it actually does, I remained nervous.

Can anyone convince me I'm just being silly?

December 28, 2016


using a free o.s means that :
° you are involved in the philosophy, in the development,being a part of the community etc.
° you know & understand that you are doing
° as soon as you change the default parameters you are out of the original o.s
° you are free to manage, tweak, copy, share etc like you want and install all you want : it is up to you.
° you must not install a soft without gpg-key - it is especially true about tor (you download from their site & verify it)
° ... look at the first sentence written on your terminal ...
*** debian does not include contrib/free section & the reason why Debian allows people to install unauthenticated software without silly : you are the admin of your system & the owner of yours personal *o.s , you do decide and even could built your own from scratch.
*** if you think that python is a bad d habit of dev ; you could ask them to develop their in another language or in a different way with no-python dependencies ; donations are welcome.

Twas asked:

> Does anyone know the reason?

You replied (yes?)

>> using a free o.s means that :
>> ° you are involved in the philosophy, in the development,being a part of the community etc.
>> ° you know & understand that you are doing

You did not answer the question. Instead you quoted your summary of a peculiarly outdated view of what the Open Source software movement is all about.

I feel it makes no sense to insist that people who develop/use such software are somehow prohibited from modifying their philosophy to take account of a political/technical environment which in many ways is dramatically different from the times when the first statements of "Open Source philosophy" appeared. Those were statements of what early enthusiasts hoped OS could become, not accurate descriptions of what it has become.

The claim that everyone who uses open source software "must know what they are doing" is particularly absurd. The fact is, most people who use OS software do so out of necessity or convenience, are not coders, and try to get by reading a minimum of documentation. That may not conform to your ideal, but it does conform to reality. In my view, it is not very smart to try to insist that reality conform to your ideal, rather than modifying your ideal to take account of reality. An ideal can only be effective as a guiding principle if it takes account of current hard truths.

That is a big misunderstood : we are speaking on the Tor blog about onionshare !!!

Misunderstood : it is not about Open Source software movement
It is about debian & install it & update & manage it like you want (it is written every where in all the manual & doc for every operating system which are not microsoft or mac/o.s).
>> ° you know & understand that you are doing means you are using the terminal and like it is written the first time you open it ... But are you running a Debian ?
>> using a free o.s means that : you are involved in the philosophy, in the development,being a part of the community etc.
Of course ! As soon as you are in , you tweak, install,test,try,manage,update you are your own admin : an important user whom every question is relevant,important ...

You do not understand the post & the answer : it is about installing a soft without a pgp key not discussing about the foundation of a movement, or the difference between the past and the future, or the user and the coder or an ideal as a philosophy !

That is a big misunderstood : we are speaking on the Tor blog about onionshare !!!
<> I haven't experienced this with other packages in contrib and hope the reason why is *not* that contrary to my naive expectations, Debian allows people to install unauthenticated software without warning. Does anyone know the reason?
YES, the reason why is that you are the admin you decide : it is one of the advantage, rule of being a part of the community of using debian.
Every user of linux have understood immediately what it was about of course !!!

@ Peter P or other Debian Project developers:

It seems that this commentator is claiming that when a Debian user installs a deb from the contrib section, this software is installed without any authentication.

Is that true?

Can someone who knows please answer the question, with a citation to if possible?


January 07, 2017


Any reason why onionshare shouldn't install ubuntu 16.10 ? blowing errors ?

Some packages could not be installed. This may mean that you have
requested an impossible situation or if you are using the unstable
distribution that some required packages have not yet been created
or been moved out of Incoming.
The following information may help to resolve the situation:

The following packages have unmet dependencies:
onionshare : Depends: python3-flask but it is not going to be installed
E: Unable to correct problems, you have held broken packages.

fresh OS install

January 07, 2017


Hi Micah, first of all my respect and thankfulness for developing such a tool.
Is there of will there be the possibility to use OnionShare with Tails OS as a standard application


January 26, 2017


Tails 2.10 was just released ( and as promised above, it offers OnionShare!

This is an exciting development for Tails advocates, since it should help to convince medical providers, lawyers, reporters, scientists, and yes, government agencies (especially small ones with no cybersecurity expertise) to adopt Tails and OnionShare for the ad hoc sharing of files in a well secured manner.

Adam Tanner, Our Bodies Our Data, Beacon Press, 2017 offers a good (but very incomplete) suggestion of the kinds of endemic cyber-insecurities which affect essentially all "covered entities" in the US (health insurers, state health care authorities, clinics, business associates such as companies hired to provide "secure" [hah!] servers, etc). In particular, it is standard practice in the US for providers who need to share files on a common patient to transmit medical records by unencrypted fax transmission. OnionShare would be an infinitely superior method of carrying out such a common task.

January 26, 2017


@ Micah Lee:

Might I suggest a topic for a Tor blog post?

Explainer on how to use OnionShare and Tor Messenger to share files on an adhoc basis.

Would this work?

Use Tor Messenger to meet in a chat room, start an encrypted private one-one chat, use OnionShare to set up a temporary onion service, share the address of the temporary onion service in the encrypted chat, then when the second party confirms in the chat that they downloaded the file, the first party can immediately take down the temporary onion service.

If so, this would be much easier once Tor Messenger is also included in Tails.