A Technical Analysis of Onion Routing

What is ‘Onion Routing’

Onion routing is the process of encrypting internet traffic in layers, much like the layers of an onion, to protect user privacy and data integrity. It is now the basis for Tor (The Onion Router), a free software that allows people to browse the internet anonymously.

In onion routing, data is encapsulated in layers of encryption, analogous to the layers of an onion. Each layer encrypts the data packet’s routing information and sends it through a series of network nodes called onion routers. Each router peels away a layer of encryption to reveal the next destination for the packet. This way, no single router knows both the origin and final destination of the data, ensuring the privacy and anonymity of the user.

Additionally, onion routing helps protect against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy. By obfuscating the source and destination of internet traffic, onion routing makes it much more difficult for any observer to piece together who is talking to whom over a network.

However, while onion routing provides a high degree of privacy, it is not completely foolproof. Vulnerabilities can be exploited if all nodes in the path are compromised, and the entry and exit nodes can potentially be identified. Also, it does not protect against end-point security breaches on the user’s device. Despite these limitations, onion routing remains one of the most effective methods for preserving privacy and anonymity online.

Onion Routing Origins

The technology behind Onion Routing was developed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in the mid-1990s for use in protecting U.S. intelligence communications online. The concept was designed to provide a new level of security and privacy, far beyond what was available at that time. The primary goal was to ensure that messages could be transmitted over the internet without the risk of being intercepted or traced back to the sender.

The name “Onion Routing” was chosen due to the layered nature of the encryption process. Like peeling an onion, each layer of encryption must be removed (or “peeled away”) to reveal the next layer. This layered encryption process ensures that even if an attacker manages to intercept the data, they would only be able to decipher one layer of encryption, which would not be enough to access the actual data or trace it back to the sender.

The first public release of Onion Routing came in 2002 when the alpha version of Tor (The Onion Router) was launched. Tor was a second-generation Onion Routing project, and it was developed under the auspices of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

Since then, Tor has become the most widely used implementation of Onion Routing, providing millions of users worldwide with the ability to browse the internet anonymously and access websites that are otherwise blocked in their regions. However, it’s worth noting that while Onion Routing can provide a high level of privacy, it is not completely foolproof and can still be vulnerable to certain types of attacks.

Onion Routing has had a significant impact on internet privacy and security, and its influence can be seen in a variety of modern security technologies. Despite its origins in military and intelligence communications, it has become a crucial tool for many ordinary internet users, journalists, activists, and others who require anonymity and privacy online.

Signing off for now,


Site Redesign in the Works

4 minute read

Why I am redesigning the site I am redesigning my blog, with a custom theme, due to the fact that it currently looks like a generic Jekyll blog. I want to m...

AI & Ethics: Navigating the Complex Landscape

9 minute read

What Are AI Ethics AI ethics is the branch of the ethics of technology that deals with the moral implications of developing and using artificial intelligenc...

The ACE that aced Ace Ventura

14 minute read

Humble beginnings The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) is a coalition of over 30 major global entertainment companies and film studios that a...

The Dark Net

6 minute read

What is the Dark Net? The dark net is a part of the internet that isn’t indexed by search engines and can’t be easily accessed using standard web browsers l...

A Technical Analysis of Onion Routing

5 minute read

What is ‘Onion Routing’ Onion routing is the process of encrypting internet traffic in layers, much like the layers of an onion, to protect user privacy and...

What is Stuxnet?

7 minute read

The Zero Day (0-Day) The year was 2010. The world was still reeling from the 2008 financial crisis, and the United States was in the midst of a presidential...

What is MFA?

8 minute read

A Basic Overview What is MFA? Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a security measure that requires users to provide two or more pieces of evidence (or “fa...

Announcing Comment/Reaction Functionality!

3 minute read

Comment Functionality I am excited to announce that I have added comment functionality to this blog! This means that you can now comment on posts, and I wil...

AI and Writing

3 minute read

AI Generated Stories/Writing In recent years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been making its way into the world of writing. AI generated stories are becom...

AI and the Future of the Modern Workplace

4 minute read

AI and Jobs AI has had a major impact on the job market. AI is being used to automate many tasks, such as data entry and customer service. This has led to t...

AI and Programming

2 minute read

AI Generated Code AI generated code is a relatively new concept that has been gaining traction in the programming world. AI code is code that is generated b...

AI and Art: A Basic Overview

2 minute read

AI Generated Art AI and art have been intertwined for decades, but the recent emergence of AI-generated art has sparked a new wave of controversy. AI art, a...

What is Ransomware?

3 minute read

What Is Ransomware? Ransomware is a type of malicious software, or malware, that is designed to block access to a computer system or data until a ransom is ...

Hello, World!

less than 1 minute read

Testing 123! Does this thing work? This is a test post. This is only a test post. If this were a real post, it would have content. But it’s not, so it doesn...