I've noticed that torrent websites like the Pirate Bay are served over http.

This means that when using a network like the Tor onion network, where the first server in the response chain receives the website unencrypted, could they not change the links on the website? Let's say that a node is compromised, or run by a hostile owner.

http request -> onion network -> server
http response -> server 1 (s1) -> s2 -> s3 -> client

If server 1 is compromised, can it alter the data?

  • Sure. And the same is true for non-Tor networks, too. Any node in the middle can alter the data stream.
    – schroeder
    May 12, 2021 at 12:24
  • 1
    It's the opposite. Tor exit node (s1) can see the packets unencrypted. For guard node (s3) the packets are encrypted 3 times. You should not use http sites that are outside of Tor network. See if the site is on Tor onion service.
    – defalt
    May 12, 2021 at 14:02
  • This means s3, if compromised, could always alter the HTML??? What do you mean by sites outside of the Tor network? How are they different from other sites served over Tor. @defalt May 12, 2021 at 15:37
  • How can we trust a site like that "one with pirates" then? They must be compromised. Or can they not get a TLS certificate signed by any one of the certificate authorities we have on our devices May 12, 2021 at 15:40
  • Since we can't trust business in our country to host torrent sites (not without taking un realistic precautions), and we can't trust tor sites. Are there any methods that do keep the trust? May 12, 2021 at 15:43

1 Answer 1


Tor is a (multi layer) encrypted tunnel. If the endpoint server (here PirateBay) is an Onion server (the URL ends by *.onion), Server 1 see an encrypted response. The Tor software on the client machine decrypt it into plain HTTP.

Server 1, 2 and 3 can alter the encrypted data, but without knowing its content. Also, this data will be rejected by the Tor client because it will detect a corruption.

If the endpoint server is a classical web server (with a URL like piratebay.org), then Server 1 can see the plaintext data of the requests and alter them.

  • Please see the comments under the question, I think you've misunderstood May 12, 2021 at 15:41
  • @vuvgaG-dukgu3-wysnox I clarified my answer.
    – A. Hersean
    May 12, 2021 at 16:03
  • Thanks!!! What makes the .onion requests encrypted? Is that just part of the protocol May 12, 2021 at 16:21
  • @vuvgaG-dukgu3-wysnox That's part of the Tor protocol.
    – A. Hersean
    May 17, 2021 at 8:17

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