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It is possible to run Bitcoin as a Tor hidden service, and connect to such services.
The following directions assume you have a Tor proxy running on port 9050. Many distributions default to having a SOCKS proxy listening on port 9050, but others may not. In particular, the Tor Browser Bundle defaults to listening on port 9150. See [Tor Project FAQ:TBBSocksPort]( for how to properly
configure Tor.
1. Run bitcoin behind a Tor proxy
The first step is running Bitcoin behind a Tor proxy. This will already make all
outgoing connections be anonymized, but more is possible.
-proxy=ip:port Set the proxy server. If SOCKS5 is selected (default), this proxy
server will be used to try to reach .onion addresses as well.
-onion=ip:port Set the proxy server to use for tor hidden services. You do not
need to set this if it's the same as -proxy. You can use -noonion
to explicitly disable access to hidden service.
-listen When using -proxy, listening is disabled by default. If you want
to run a hidden service (see next section), you'll need to enable
it explicitly.
-connect=X When behind a Tor proxy, you can specify .onion addresses instead
-addnode=X of IP addresses or hostnames in these parameters. It requires
-seednode=X SOCKS5. In Tor mode, such addresses can also be exchanged with
other P2P nodes.
In a typical situation, this suffices to run behind a Tor proxy:
./bitcoin -proxy=
2. Run a bitcoin hidden server
If you configure your Tor system accordingly, it is possible to make your node also
reachable from the Tor network. Add these lines to your /etc/tor/torrc (or equivalent
config file):
HiddenServiceDir /var/lib/tor/bitcoin-service/
HiddenServicePort 8333
HiddenServicePort 18333
The directory can be different of course, but (both) port numbers should be equal to
your bitcoind's P2P listen port (8333 by default).
-externalip=X You can tell bitcoin about its publicly reachable address using
this option, and this can be a .onion address. Given the above
configuration, you can find your onion address in
/var/lib/tor/bitcoin-service/hostname. Onion addresses are given
preference for your node to advertise itself with, for connections
coming from unroutable addresses (such as, where the
Tor proxy typically runs).
-listen You'll need to enable listening for incoming connections, as this
is off by default behind a proxy.
-discover When -externalip is specified, no attempt is made to discover local
IPv4 or IPv6 addresses. If you want to run a dual stack, reachable
from both Tor and IPv4 (or IPv6), you'll need to either pass your
other addresses using -externalip, or explicitly enable -discover.
Note that both addresses of a dual-stack system may be easily
linkable using traffic analysis.
In a typical situation, where you're only reachable via Tor, this should suffice:
./bitcoind -proxy= -externalip=57qr3yd1nyntf5k.onion -listen
(obviously, replace the Onion address with your own). It should be noted that you still
listen on all devices and another node could establish a clearnet connection, when knowing
your address. To mitigate this, additionally bind the address of your Tor proxy:
./bitcoind ... -bind=
If you don't care too much about hiding your node, and want to be reachable on IPv4
as well, use `discover` instead:
./bitcoind ... -discover
and open port 8333 on your firewall (or use -upnp).
If you only want to use Tor to reach onion addresses, but not use it as a proxy
for normal IPv4/IPv6 communication, use:
./bitcoin -onion= -externalip=57qr3yd1nyntf5k.onion -discover
3. Automatically listen on Tor
Starting with Tor version it is possible, through Tor's control socket
API, to create and destroy 'ephemeral' hidden services programmatically.
Bitcoin Core has been updated to make use of this.
This means that if Tor is running (and proper authentication has been configured),
Bitcoin Core automatically creates a hidden service to listen on. This will positively
affect the number of available .onion nodes.
This new feature is enabled by default if Bitcoin Core is listening (`-listen`), and
requires a Tor connection to work. It can be explicitly disabled with `-listenonion=0`
and, if not disabled, configured using the `-torcontrol` and `-torpassword` settings.
To show verbose debugging information, pass `-debug=tor`.
Connecting to Tor's control socket API requires one of two authentication methods to be
configured. For cookie authentication the user running bitcoind must have write access
to the `CookieAuthFile` specified in Tor configuration. In some cases this is
preconfigured and the creation of a hidden service is automatic. If permission problems
are seen with `-debug=tor` they can be resolved by adding both the user running tor and
the user running bitcoind to the same group and setting permissions appropriately. On
Debian-based systems the user running bitcoind can be added to the debian-tor group,
which has the appropriate permissions. An alternative authentication method is the use
of the `-torpassword` flag and a `hash-password` which can be enabled and specified in
Tor configuration.
4. Privacy recommendations
- Do not add anything but bitcoin ports to the hidden service created in section 2.
If you run a web service too, create a new hidden service for that.
Otherwise it is trivial to link them, which may reduce privacy. Hidden
services created automatically (as in section 3) always have only one port