Onion Share

What is Onion Share?

Onion Share is a privacy-focused tool designed to ensure the secure and anonymous sharing of files, hosting an onion website, and chatting over the Tor network. It provides users with enhanced confidentiality, making it harder for third parties to track the shared content or the users involved.

How does it work?

Web servers initiated locally on your device become accessible to others through Onion services. It’s your responsibility to securely share the URL, utilizing encrypted channels like chat messages or less secure options like unencrypted emails, based on your security needs.

Recipients simply paste this URL into their Tor Browser to access the OnionShare service. If you suspend OnionShare on your laptop before files are sent, the service will be inactive until your device is back online. OnionShare is most effective for real-time collaboration.

Since your computer serves as the web server, neither third parties nor even the OnionShare developers can access the shared content. It remains entirely private. Additionally, as OnionShare relies on Tor Onion services, it ensures anonymity.

Share Files

You can use OnionShare to send files and folders to people securely and anonymously. Open a share tab, drag in the files and folders you wish to share, and click “Start sharing”.

After you add files, you’ll see some settings. Make sure you set the correct settings before you start sharing.

As soon as someone finishes downloading your files, OnionShare will automatically stop the server, removing the website from the Internet. To allow multiple people to download them, uncheck the “Stop sharing after files have been sent (uncheck to allow downloading individual files)” box.

Also, if you uncheck this box, people will be able to download the individual files you share rather than a single compressed version of all the files.

When you’re ready to share, click the “Start sharing” button. You can always click “Stop sharing”, or quit OnionShare, immediately making the link unavailable. You can also click the “↑” icon in the top-right corner to show the history and progress of people downloading files from you.

Now that you have an OnionShare, copy the address and send it to the person you want to receive the files. If the files need to stay secure use an encrypted messaging app.

That person then must load the address in the Tor Browser. After logging in with the random password included in the web address, the files can be downloaded directly from your computer by clicking the “Download Files” link in the corner.

Receive Files

You can use OnionShare to let people anonymously upload files directly to your computer, essentially turning it into an anonymous Dropbox. Open a “Receive tab”, choose where you want to save the files and other settings, and then click “Start Receive Mode”.

This starts the OnionShare service. Anyone loading this address in their Tor Browser will be able to upload files to your computer.

You can also click the down “↓” icon in the top-right corner to show the history and progress of people sending files to you.

Here is what it looks like for someone sending you files.

When someone uploads files to your receive service, by default they get saved to a folder called OnionShare in the home folder on your computer, automatically organized into separate subfolders based on the time that the files get uploaded.

Setting up an OnionShare receiving service is useful for journalists and others needing to securely accept documents from anonymous sources. When used in this way, OnionShare is sort of like a lightweight, simpler, not quite as secure version of SecureDrop, the whistleblower submission system.

Host a Website

To host a static HTML website with OnionShare, open a website tab, drag the files and folders that make up the static content there, and click “Start sharing” when you are ready.

After you add files, you’ll see some settings. Make sure you choose the setting you’re interested in before you start sharing.

Chat Anonymously

You can use OnionShare to set up a private, secure chat room that doesn’t log anything. Just open a chat tab and click “Start chat server”.

After you start the server, copy the OnionShare address and send it to the people you want in the anonymous chat room. If it’s important to limit exactly who can join, use an encrypted messaging app to send out the OnionShare address.

People can join the chat room by loading their OnionShare address in the Tor Browser. The chat room requires JavasScript, so everyone who wants to participate must have their Tor Browser security level set to “Standard” or “Safer”, instead of “Safest”.

When someone joins the chat room they get assigned a random name. They can change their name by typing a new name in the box in the left panel and pressing enter. Since the chat history isn’t saved anywhere, it doesn’t get displayed at all, even if others were already chatting in the room.

In an OnionShare chat room, everyone is anonymous. Anyone can change their name to anything, and there is no way to confirm anyone’s identity.

However, if you create an OnionShare chat room and securely send the address only to a small group of trusted friends using encrypted messages, you can be reasonably confident the people joining the chat room are your friends.

How does the encryption work?

Because OnionShare relies on Tor onion services, connections between the Tor Browser and OnionShare are all end-to-end encrypted (E2EE). When someone posts a message to an OnionShare chat room, they send it to the server through the E2EE onion connection, which then sends it to all other members of the chat room using WebSockets, through their E2EE onion connections.

OnionShare doesn’t implement any chat encryption on its own. It relies on the Tor Onion service’s encryption instead.

Remember to always follow safe online practices, even when using the Tor services.

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If you have any questions, you can message me through our community discord group 👉 https://discord.gg/34nCwKzKcX

Thanks for watching, and as always, stay curious and stay secure. See you in the following video!

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