What could attacker do with stolen private keys of main nodes?

Tor is based on 10 main nodes: moria1, tor26, dizum, Tonga, etc.

IP Addresses of this nodes hard-coded into client.


static void
add_default_trusted_dir_authorities(dirinfo_type_t type)
  int i;
  const char *authorities[] = {
    "moria1 orport=9101 no-v2 "
      "v3ident=D586D18309DED4CD6D57C18FDB97EFA96D330566 "
      " 9695 DFC3 5FFE B861 329B 9F1A B04C 4639 7020 CE31",
    "tor26 v1 orport=443 v3ident=14C131DFC5C6F93646BE72FA1401C02A8DF2E8B4 "
      " 847B 1F85 0344 D787 6491 A548 92F9 0493 4E4E B85D",
    "dizum orport=443 v3ident=E8A9C45EDE6D711294FADF8E7951F4DE6CA56B58 "
      " 7EA6 EAD6 FD83 083C 538F 4403 8BBF A077 587D D755",
    "Tonga orport=443 bridge no-v2 "
      "4A0C CD2D DC79 9508 3D73 F5D6 6710 0C8A 5831 F16D",
    "turtles orport=9090 no-v2 "
      "v3ident=27B6B5996C426270A5C95488AA5BCEB6BCC86956 "
      " F397 038A DC51 3361 35E7 B80B D99C A384 4360 292B",
    "gabelmoo orport=443 no-v2 "
      "v3ident=ED03BB616EB2F60BEC80151114BB25CEF515B226 "
      " F204 4413 DAC2 E02E 3D6B CF47 35A1 9BCA 1DE9 7281",
    "dannenberg orport=443 no-v2 "
      "v3ident=585769C78764D58426B8B52B6651A5A71137189A "
      " 7BE6 83E6 5D48 1413 21C5 ED92 F075 C553 64AC 7123",
    "urras orport=80 no-v2 v3ident=80550987E1D626E3EBA5E5E75A458DE0626D088C "
      " 0AD3 FA88 4D18 F89E EA2D 89C0 1937 9E0E 7FD9 4417",
    "maatuska orport=80 no-v2 "
      "v3ident=49015F787433103580E3B66A1707A00E60F2D15B "
      " BD6A 8292 55CB 08E6 6FBE 7D37 4836 3586 E46B 3810",
    "Faravahar orport=443 no-v2 "
      "v3ident=EFCBE720AB3A82B99F9E953CD5BF50F7EEFC7B97 "
      " CF6D 0AAF B385 BE71 B8E1 11FC 5CFF 4B47 9237 33BC",

Say, NSA agents travel across the Western Union, and steal private keys of main authority directories.
Country:        US [Cambridge, United States]
country:        AT [Villach, Austria]
country:        NL [Amsterdam, Netherlands]
country:        NL [Amsterdam, Netherlands]
Country:        US [Denver, United States]
country:        DE [Wallsbuell, Germany]
country:        DE [Hamburg, Germany]
Country:        US [San Francisco, United States]
country:        SE [Stockholm, Sweden]
country:        MU [Not Mauritius: Washington, United States]

10 cities on world map, not so many.

Thereafter, they move back to the USA, sitting down in their laboratory.

Obviously, they can easy attack any Tor node point-blank, in the middle on the provider side, AT&T, Verizon, whatever.

Client connect to malicious Tor-network copy, which will be identical to original. He lost hidden-service in one moment, while he would checking Tor-network, NSA agent will disappear, client reconnect to original Tor-network, without any warning.

What would attacker done remotely ? Or what else attacker could with this 10 priv_keys?

  • 2
    Hmmm... How can you be sure that these main nodes aren't ... well... "subverted" from the get-go? Commented Sep 22, 2013 at 11:15

2 Answers 2


The directory authorities votes on what the Tor network consensus that lists all relays should look like so that a majority of the authorities need to behave badly in order to publish a malicious consensus for clients. See https://metrics.torproject.org/consensus-health.html for how the voting goes. All the private keys is not needed to win the vote and perform attacks you already mention.

You might get a more detailed answer over at the newly opened Tor Stack Exchange.


For my understanding, as tor use such called onion routing, each level of router don't know what behind each other level (inner/outer communication).

So holding all privates key at only 1 level (even the root level) won't be enough...

This is the way tor used to establish trust on himself. (sorry for my poor english...)

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