Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Computer Science

Committee Chair(s)

Ming Li


Ming Li


Nicholas Flann


Daniel Watson


The Tor network is a third-generation onion router that aims to provide private and anonymous Internet access to its users. In recent years its userbase, network, and community have grown significantly in response to revelations of national and global electronic surveillance, and it remains one of the most popular anonymity networks in use today. Tor also provides access to anonymous servers known as hidden services – servers of unknown location and ownership that may provide websites, chat services, or an electronic dead drop. These hidden services can be accessed through any Tor-powered web browser but they suffer from usability challenges due to the algorithmic generation of their addresses.

In response to this difficulty, in this work we introduce the Onion Name System (OnioNS), a privacy-enhanced distributed DNS that allows hidden service operators to
select a globally-unique domain name for their service. We construct OnioNS as an optional backwards-compatible plugin for Tor on top of existing hidden service infrastructure and utilize the existing Tor network, which minimizes our assumptions and simplifies our threat model. Additionally, OnioNS allows clients to verify the authenticity or nonexistence of domain names with minimal networking costs without introducing any central authority.