I mean, if I request some site, it goes through big chain of proxies, but how the proxies know where to send it?

I think that it works like : I say get google to proxy 1 -> proxy one tells to get google to proxy 2 -> proxy 2 [and so on] And on the way back it is reversed. The last proxy knows which proxy ordered the website so it sends it to this and so on. But this seems to me a bit incomplete if it's how it really works.

Am I missing something or am I completely wrong ?

  • 3
    FYI, it's Tor, not TOR.
    – d1str0
    Sep 30, 2016 at 17:59
  • @Overmind Actually, it did not start as capital letters. You can read the original paper which first proposed Tor, where it was spelled as "Tor". That is why it is called a backronym, not an acronym. So "objectively", it should be called Tor. Ask 1) any of the developers, 2) any of the creators, 3) anyone who understands the community, 4) any related privacy group (EFF, I2P, etc), 5) the Tor Stack Exchange community itself, 6) researchers on e.g. anonbib who write papers on anonymity networks, and more. It's not up for debate. The correct spelling is Tor.
    – forest
    Jul 13, 2018 at 10:47
  • How many americans write U.S.A. correctly ? The 'Tor' name is derived from an acronym for the original software project name "The Onion Router" and that's it. So first there was the nest, then the chicken or the egg.
    – Overmind
    Jul 13, 2018 at 10:50
  • No, it is not derived from an acronym as it is a backronym. Please read the original paper.
    – forest
    Jul 13, 2018 at 11:13

1 Answer 1


Brief overview:

First, you get a circuit of Tor nodes, let's say 1, 2, 3.

Next, you craft an encrypted packet to node 3, encrypt that in a packet to node 2, then encrypt that in a packet to node 1.

This way, node 1 only knows the next hop is node 2, node 2 only knows the next hop is node 3, and node 3 knows the final destination. Also, 3 only knows about node 2, node 2 only knows about node 1, etc. Node 1 doesn't know the destination and node 3 doesn't know the origin.

  • 2
    Also I think node 1 does not know that it is node 1, to it it just looks like another node to forward to and it could be node 2 Sep 30, 2016 at 18:29
  • That's a good question. I am not sure if Node 1 would know that it is the first hop or not.
    – d1str0
    Sep 30, 2016 at 18:37
  • Fist and last nodes know that they are 1st and last. The rest don't know anything important. They are like a city sewer pipe system that handles flows from various areas.
    – Overmind
    Jul 12, 2018 at 8:08

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