This FAQ is related to questions around TorBox. For additional questions and feedback, visit our GitHub page or contact me. For questions relating to Tor or the Tor Browser, check the general FAQ page of the Tor Project or the official Tor support website.

Table of content

Should I change the default passwords? How can I change my passwords?
The Configuration sub-menu of TorBox v.0.3.0
The configuration sub-menu of TorBox v.0.3.0 (click on the image to enlarge it)

You should change the default passwords a soon as possible. This is an easy task: login into your TorBox with an SSH client, go to the configuration sub-menu and choose the associated menu entries under the section.

Should I change the name of the wireless network (SSID) of my TorBox? How can I change it?

This is not mandatory, but you can do it without considerable effort: login into your TorBox with an SSH client, go to the configuration sub-menu and choose the associated menu entry.

Can I hide the name of the wireless network (SSID) of my TorBox?

Yes, and it is easy to accomplish: login into your TorBox with an SSH client, go to the configuration sub-menu and choose the associated menu entry.

Which SSH client do you prefer?

There is an extensive collection of SSH clients. Usually, it doesn’t matter which one you are using. These are my recommendations:

For a list of other SSH clients, see here.

An iPad connected to TorBox running arm (Tor statistics) in a vSSH terminal.
An iPad connected to TorBox running arm (Tor statistics) in a vSSH terminal.
Do you know some useful browser add-ons to improve anonymity, security and/or usability?

Yes, but first let me repeat one crucial point: if your well-being depends from your anonymity, then is highly recommended to use the Tor Browser only or even better Tails (read here, here and here why).

In my opinion following browser add-ons are very useful:

  • https-everywhere: Automatically makes websites use a more secure HTTPS connection instead of HTTP if they support it. With HTTPS, even the connection between the Tor exit node and the web server is encrypted. Tor Browser also uses this add-on. (USED BY TOR BROWSER; ESSENTIAL for SECURITY / ANONYMITY; available for Firefox, Firefox for Android, Chrome, and Opera).
  • NoScript: Allows JavaScript, Java, Flash, and other plugins to be executed only by trusted web sites of the users choice. NoScript also provides powerful anti-XSS and anti-Clickjacking protection. Tor Browser also uses this add-on. (USED BY TOR BROWSER; ESSENTIAL for SECURITY / ANONYMITY; available for Firefox and Chrome).
  • First Party Isolation: First Party Isolation, also known as Cross-Origin Identifier Unlinkability, is a concept from the Tor Browser. The idea is to key every source of browser identification with the domain in the URL bar (the first party). This makes all access to identifiers distinct between usage in the website itself and through third-party. Think of it as blocking Third-party cookies, but more exhaustively. (USED BY TOR BROWSER; ESSENTIAL for SECURITY / ANONYMITY; available for Firefox).
  • uBlock Origin: The only real working and independent ad blocker (ESSENTIAL for SECURITY / ANONYMITY / USABILITY; available for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera).
  • Smart Referer: Prevents Cross Domain Referer Leakage (ESSENTIAL for ANONYMITY; available for Firefox).
  • CanvasBlocker: Allows users to prevent websites from using the Javascript canvas API for fingerprinting them. (ESSENTIAL for ANONYMITY; available for Firefox)
  • Decentraleyes: This browser add-on emulates Content Delivery Networks (CDN) by finding supported resources locally, and injecting them into the environment. All of this happens automatically, so no prior configuration is required. Here is a testing utility to find out if you are properly protected against a CDN vulnerability (ESSENTIAL for ANONYMITY; available for Firefox, Chrome, Opera).
  • Neat URL: Cleans URLs, removing parameters such as Google Analytics’ utm parameters. (ESSENTIAL for ANONYMITY; available for Firefox)
  • Skip Redirect: Some web pages use intermediary pages before redirecting to a final page. This add-on tries to extract the final url from the intermediary url and goes there straight away if successful. (ESSENTIAL for PRIVACY / USABILITY; available for Firefox)
  • Privacy Pass: Allow users to redeem validly signed tokens instead of completing captcha solutions. Clients receive 30 signed tokens for each captcha that is initially solved. Cloudflare currently supports Privacy Pass. (ESSENTIAL for USABILITY; available for Firefox and Chrome).
  • uMatrix: Point and click matrix to filter net requests according to its source, destination, and type (available Firefox, Chrome, and Opera).
  • Privacy Badger: A balanced approach to internet privacy between consumers and content providers by blocking advertisements and tracking cookies that do not respect the Do Not Track setting in a user’s web browser (available for Firefox, Chrome, and Opera).
  • FoxyProxy: FoxyProxy is an advanced proxy management tool (see also here; available for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, and others).
  • Bypass Paywalls: Let’s say you are a researcher and one of your sources is an article in the Washington Post. Would you subscribe, only for that one article? Yes, we thought so, too 😉 (available for Firefox and Chrome).

Do you have another very useful browser add-on? Let me know in the comment section below!

Do you know some essential configuration adjustments for Firefox (via about:config) to improve anonymity and security?

Yes, but first let me repeat one crucial point: if your well-being depends from your anonymity, then is highly recommended to use the Tor Browser only or even better Tails (read here, here and here why).
In my opinion following configuration adjustments for Firefox are very useful:

  • To enable strict First Party Isolation, also known as Cross-Origin Identifier Unlinkability, search for privacy.firstparty.isolate and privacy.firstparty.isolate.restrict_opener_access and set both to true. Alternatively, the browser add-on First Party Isolation does the same (see above). You should really do that!
  • To disable WebRTC (possible IP leak!!), search for media.peerconnection.enabled and double-click on it –> false.
  • To disable face detection using cameras, search for camera.control.face_detection.enabled and double-click on it –> false.
  • To disable geolocation services, search for geo.enabled and double-click on it –> false.
  • To disable the ability to report what plugins are installed, search plugin.scan.plid.all and double-click on it –> false.
  • To disable web speech recognition through the microphone, search media.webspeech.synth.enable and media.webspeech.recognition.enable and double-click on them –> false.
  • To disable all telemetry features, search for “telemetry” and disable all true/false settings related to telemetry by setting them to false.
  • To harden your browser (a little bit) against fingerprinting, search for “privacy.resistFingerprinting” and double-click on them –> true.
  • To enable tracking protection, search for “privacy.trackingprotection.enabled” and double-click on them –> true.

For more information see here or here. Do you have other essential configuration adjustments for Firefox or any other browser? Let me know in the comment section below!

Can I use TorBox and VPN together?

Currently, the right answer is: it depends. There are two different ways to combine Tor and VPN: “VPN over Tor” and “Tor over VPN”.

The program from Private Internet Access allows switching from UDP to TCP in the connection settings.

VPN over Tor
“VPN over Tor” means that you are connected with the TorBox, and on your client device, a connection to your VPN provider is established. In this case, you connect to a VPN through Tor. Currently, this is possible if the VPN client application supports TCP. By default, many VPN client applications are set to UDP — this will not work, because UDP is not routed through Tor and TorBox will block them. For example, with ProtonVPN, they give Windows users the possibility to switch to TCP — unfortunately, this option is not implemented in the ProtonVPN application for macOS. However, if you use OpenVPN / Tunnelblick to establish a VPN connection, you can choose if you want to use TCP instead of UDP (e.g., ProtonVPN via OpenVPN / Tunnelblick).

The appeal of this method might be that the exit IP remains static and is not blocked as a Tor exit node by some websites. But the major drawback is that this cancels out any security and anonymity advantages Tor has to offer. Technically, with this method, the VPN provider sees all your data traffic. You have to trust the VPN provider so much that you might as well not even use Tor at all. That’s why I recommend you leave it alone.

Tor over VPN
“Tor over VPN” means that you are connected with your VPN provider, and then you start a Tor client (e.g., the Tor Browser). In this case you connect to a Tor entry guard through a VPN. Currently, TorBox doesn’t support the direct connection to a VPN provider. However, this feature is on our to-do list. With the redesign of the internet connection part in TorBox v.0.3.0, we are better prepared to implement such additional connection options.

“Tor over VPN” can help in a situation, when Tor entry guards are blocked, and when even the use of Bridges doesn’t help (the first choice to circumvent the blockage of Tor entry guards is to use TorBox’s bridge feature in the countermeasure sub-menu). Without an obfuscating protocol, like obfs4, the VPN provider sees that you are using Tor. Still, he doesn’t see what you are doing and where you are going because the data stream is encrypted, and the final destination is hidden. However, it may be easier for a (global) passive adversary to make a traffic correlation analysis on a VPN’s infrastructure. Matthew Traudt, a Computer Scientist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, who has been doing research and development on Tor, write in a very comprehensive article about Tor and VPN that “[s]ince VPNs are so popular, isn’t it likely that the GPA has already done something to compromise the most popular ones?“.

I’m connected to TorBox, and all is working as expected, but I’m not able to download something with my BitTorrent client. What’s wrong?

BitTorrent is not working over Tor, because Tor doesn’t support UDP. There are clients with a “Tor-switch” and there are people using the SOCKS v5 feature of the Tor Browser. However, this doesn’t change the fact that UDP is not routed through Tor. If in these configurations BitTorrent works properly, this means that the UDP packages go clear-net, revealing the identity of the client. With TorBox client-devices don’t have direct access to the clear-net. Consequently, UDP packages are dropped and the identity of the client is safeguarded. By the way: due to the high bandwidth usage caused by the BitTorrent protocol, it is considered impolite and inappropriate by Tor community members to use the Tor network for BitTorrent transfers. For that reason, some Tor exit nodes block BitTorrent traffic.

Isn’t there a workaround so that I can use TorBox and BitTorrent at the same time?

Yes, there is, but it is a little bit complicated and slow. You need a external SOCKS v5 proxy server and a BitTorrent client, which works properly with it (for example: Deluge, qbittorrent and Vuze). BitTorrent is now tunneled through Tor to the proxy server. Regarding the Socks5 proxy server: we didn’t find any reliable working free public proxy server. The best server we found is coming with costs, even not so much: Private Internet Access (for alternative commercial proxy providers see here). Nevertheless, you should think very carefully about the necessity to use Tor for your BitTorrent traffic, because it is slow and due to the high bandwidth the Tor community doesn’t like it.

BitTorrent tunneled through Tor with a proxy server from
BitTorrent tunneled through Tor with a proxy server from “Private Internet Access”. It works, but it is slow. It is probably useful to circumvent censorship but not for daily use. After the screenshot, I canceled the download; no bytes were harmed.
I’m connected to TorBox, and all is working as expected, but Firefox, Safari and any iOS device don’t display .onion sites. What’s wrong?

As per IETF RFC 7686, “Applications that do not implement the Tor protocol should generate an error upon the use of .onion and should not perform a DNS lookup.” To display a .onion site, you have to use the Tor Browser or the Onion Browser on iOS.

Nevertheless, the display of .onion sites is still possible with certain browsers:
Google Chrome (tested with Version 74) and Chromium (Version 76) resolve .onion addresses by default, without any adjustments.
With Mozilla Firefox you have to use the SOCKS v5 proxy functionality of your TorBox and to configure Firefox accordingly:

  • Under about:preferences, “Network Settings”, click on “Settings…”, choose “Manual proxy configuration”, under “SOCKS Host” enter following IP: / Port: 9050. Toggle on “Proxy DNS when using SOCKS v5”.
  • Under about:config, search for “network.dns.blockDotOnion” and set it to “false”.

The add-on FoxyProxy Standard offers another interesting way to resolve .onion addresses, only using the TorBox SOCKS v5 proxy for that kind of addresses:

  • Install the add-on.
  • Under “Options” add a new proxy, choosing as “Proxy Type” “SOCKS5”, enter IP: / Port: 9050. Toggle on “Send DNS through SOCKS5 proxy?” and save the changes.
  • Under “Patterns” whitelist .onion (see images below).
  • Activate the new proxy settings and activate “Use Enabled Proxies by Patterns and Priority” by clicking on the FoxyProxy icon.
  • Now, all .onion addresses are sent through TorBox’s SOCKS v5; all other addresses are not affected.

• • •

• • •

• • •

• • •

For starters, do you know some interesting .onion sites?

Of course, here is a very short collection: Ahmia Search Engine, Deep Web Search Engine, Def Con Media Server, Duck Duck Go Search Engine, BBC News, Facebook, Imperial Library, OnionDir – Deep Web Link Directory, ProtonMail, secMail, The Hidden Wiki, The Pirate Bay, The Tor Project Homepage, TorLinks.

For more sites, see also here (on “clear-web”): Deep Web links, here or here (in German).

Tor statistics (main menu entry 1) don’t show up — the screen stays black. What can I do?

The program “Nyx“, which shows the Tor statistics, uses the control port of the local Tor installation. If the loading of the Tor process gets stuck or takes much time (possible in case of network connection problems or censorship), “Nyx” need either much of time to start or doesn’t at all. However, we implemented an alternative way to quickly check the Tor’s log file: in the main menu, use “Show the Tor log file – quick and dirty”. The screen updates automatically when a new entry is written to the log file. Press CTRL-C to leave it.

Tor did work without a problem. The Internet is reachable. Nevertheless, after a restart of TorBox, Tor doesn’t load anymore. It is stuck at “Bootstrapped 0%” for more than 5 minutes! How can I fix that?

First, check with “ifconfig” if TorBox did receive an IP address from your Internet device and if you can ping an Internet address like http://google.com. If that fails, then you have to (re)select the right Internet source in the main menu (entry 4-8) or/and shutdown and restart TorBox again.

Important: TorBox is configured as a DHCP client, which means that the router has to give TorBox all necessary network information (usually, the router is configured like that). If that doesn’t work, check out this FAQ entry.

If the Internet is reachable, but Tor is still stuck in the boot process, try to reset Tor and force a change of the permanent entry node (entry 8) in the update and reset sub-menu (main menu entry 12).

When I boot up my TorBox, I can see the following error: “Failed to start Raise network interfaces” – what does it mean?

Such messages, when starting or running TorBox, do not automatically mean that something is wrong.
We try to support as many devices as possible from the first boot on — especially USB adapters, which use the device usb0. But if there is no USB device available, this message appears at boot time. It has no effect on how TorBox functions and can be ignored.

When I boot up my TorBox, I can see the following error: “Failed to start /etc/rc.local Compatibility” – what does it mean?

At the end of the boot procedure, the commands in /etc/rc.local are executed. One of the commands is “sudo /usr/sbin/ntpdate pool.ntp.org” to guarantee a correct clock. If TorBox doesn’t have a connection to the Internet, the command fails, and this message appears. If the connection to the Internet is established later (for example, by catching an IP address from the Internet router or by connecting a WiFi network), in most cases, this message has no effect.

How can I be sure, if my device is using the Tor network?
All works just fine....
All works just fine….

Go to https://check.torproject.org/ or http://onionbr5zulufnuj.onion. For more information, you can also use the check site operated by JonDonym. Check with Panopticlick (by the EFF), if your browser is safe against tracking? To check for other browser leaks, go here (an excellent analytic tool!); additionally, you could also test against IP leaks and DNS Nameserver spoofability. You can also monitor your data transfer by using TorBox’s main menu entry 1. On macOS, there is a nice program (IP in Menubar), which permanently displays the IP address of your Tor exit node in the menu bar.

Why do I receive a grey onion on the Tor Project’s check-site?

Because the user agent string of your web browser differs from the one from the Tor Browser. The Tor Browser is using following user agent string: “Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; rv:52.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/52.0”. You can easily switch your current user agent string with “User Agent Switcher” (for Firefox). However, there are side effects:

  1. Changing the user agent without changing to a similar platform makes your browser nearly unique and allow for fingerprinting your device.
  2. If your string is saying that you are running Windows NT 6.1, most likely a download page automatically offers you a download package for Windows NT, even if you are running OS X. Therefore, a user agent switcher allows you to change the string in one or two clicks if needed.
My client, which is connected to the TorBox, doesn’t receive an IP address.

Usually, the DHCP-server on TorBox provides your client with all necessary information. If it doesn’t work, and you are sure that your client is configured accordingly, first try to restart TorBox. Shouldn’t that doesn’t work either, then try to configure your client manually:

IPv4-address of your device: 192.168.42.x  (x > 12)
Net Masq:
Router / Gateway:
DNS: / torbox.ch
My TorBox doesn’t receive an IP address from the network router.

TorBox is configured as a DHCP client, which means that the router has to give TorBox all necessary network information (usually, the router is configured like that). If that doesn’t work, try to configure TorBox manually according to the data of your provider or an actual client, which works with your router properly:

sudo ifconfig <interface> <static_IP_address>
sudo route add default gw <gateway_ip>
My TorBox receives an IP address (192.168.42.* or 192.168.43.*) from the network router, but it doesn’t work.

TorBox, in its default configuration, occupies the IP-addresses – for its wireless network and – for cable connected clients. In the very rare case in which the network router uses the same IP range, you have either to change the IP range of the router or to change the configuration of the TorBox. For more information, please contact me.

I’m connected to TorBox with an ethernet cable, and all is working as expected. However, when I change my Internet to “Wireless network”, I’m not able to connect to the Internet anymore.

It may sound silly, but for an Internet<->wlan-TorBox-wlan<->Client configuration, you have to plug in a USB WiFi adapter. For such a configuration, an adapter is needed because neither the Raspberry Pi onboard WiFi chip nor the USB adapter can access to the Internet and the client at the same time

I’m connected to a public wireless network; everything works as expected. However, every x minutes, the connection to the wireless network stops completely, and I have to repeat the entire login procedure. What could be the reason?

Certain Internet provider (usually at airports, in hotels, coffee houses, etc.) disconnect the network connection after a particular time of inactivity. In this case, the Tor statistics (main menu entry 1) no longer shows any data transfer and after about 15 seconds, errors in communication with the Tor network will appear. Try to activate in the countermeasure sub-menu the “Countermeasure against a disconnection when idle feature”.

Wicd (the network manager) doesn’t show me all wireless networks! It seems that the ones on the 5GHz band are missing. What can I do?
A map of Europe, with the corresponding two-letter country codes in place of the full names of countries.
A map of Europe, with the corresponding two-letter country codes used for the WLAN regulatory domain in place of the full names of countries.

Most likely you are using the “Wireless network (through a USB adapter; wlan1)” option without having an USB adapter capable to use the 5 GHz band (you are able to see the capabilities of your wireless chip / adapter with the command “iw list”). If you have a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ or a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, then try following menu entry in the main menu: “Wireless network (through the onboard chip; wlan0)”. You should also check the TorBox’s WLAN regulatory domain in the configuration sub-menu. To use the 5 GHz band, to see and to connect wireless network on this band, you have to set the country-specific WLAN regulatory domain.

Wicd (the network manager) tries to connect a wireless network, but it sticks with “Validating authentication”, the program crashes and/or seems to have many bugs. What’s wrong?

It is crucial that your TorBox does receive enough power. Generally speaking, you cannot run your TorBox on a USB port of your laptop — this will most likely lead to various unforeseen behaviors. The required power is dependent on which Raspberry Pi variant your TorBox image is running. With a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ or a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, you should use the official power supply or at least one, which provides 5 V and 3 A (15 W). If you need a power bank (for a “TorBox to go” situation), it is recommended to take one with a high capacity (10.000 Ah or more) and an output power capability of at least 15 W (5 V x 3 A). Even if a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B has a lower network performance, it may run more stable on a power bank due to its lower power consumption (see this Raspberry Pi 3 B+ Review and Performance Comparison and this Power Consumption Benchmarks). The red PWR LED gives you a sense of the stability of your power supply — see the question/answer below.

All about the power supply: “Under-voltage detected!” / Red flashing LEDs / Unusual, strange behaviors – What do these things mean?
If “pwr” flashes red => Problems are coming ahead!

It is crucial that your TorBox does receive enough power. In this case the red PWR LED on your Raspberry Pi must be permanently lit. If it does not light up or flash, the voltage has most likely fallen below 4.63V. Additionally, with the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+, the drop below 4.63V is notified by an “Under-voltage detected!” in the terminal. This doesn’t automatically mean that TorBox won’t work, but it can lead to strange behaviors (for example during the setup process of a connection to a wireless network; see question above), network disconnections, to data losses or even to a corruption of your SD card. If this message regularly arises or/and red PWR LED flashes for a longer time, then you should switch to a more reliable power supply such as the official and recommended power supply for the Raspberry Pi (for version 3 Model B/B+ and for version 4 Model B – don’t use the USB Micro-B to USB-C Adapter!!). If you like to use another power supply or a power bank (for a “TorBox to go” situation), the following minimum requirements are recommended to ensure a trouble-free operation of your TorBox:

  • Raspberry Pi 3 Model B: 5V / 2.4A / 12W
  • Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+: 5V / 3A / 15W
  • Raspberry Pi 4 Model B: 5V / 3A / 15W

If the “Under-voltage detected!” notification spams your console or your log file, a temporary fix is to ignore it: create /etc/rsyslog.d/ignore-underpowering.conf with :msg, contains, “voltage” ~ and you can enjoy your unstable system.

Three USB WiFi adapters (all 2,5 GHz only): the one far left needs too much power during boot up. The other two function without any problem. Adapters with long external antennas usually do not work.

The necessary power supply is highly dependent on your peripherals. Even with a reliable power supply, you could run into problems, especially if you are using a “Wireless-internet to wireless-clients” connection. As a rule, simpler, low-powered USB WiFi Adapters lead to fewer problems (see image right). Especially booting up your Raspberry Pi with an already attached USB WiFi adapter could be too much for the power supply of your board. In such a case, try to boot up the Raspberry Pi first and to attach the USB WiFi adapter later when the system is already running. Another solution could be to use a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B instead of a newer more power-hungry variant. Even if it has a lower network performance, it may run more stable, especially on a power bank, due to its lower power consumption (see this Raspberry Pi 3 B+ Review and Performance Comparison and this Power Consumption Benchmarks). Also, avoid to use the 5 GHz band because it requires more power.

This TorBox (Raspberry Pi 2 Model B) with a TFT display, two wireless network adapter and an RS Pro PB-10400 Power Bank, 5V / 10,4Ah as a power source is connected to a wireless network in a Starbucks Coffee shop. Most likely, this does not work with a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ due to its higher power consumption.
This TorBox (Raspberry Pi 2 Model B) with a TFT display, two wireless network adapter, and an RS Pro PB-10400 Power Bank, 5 V / 10,4 Ah as a power source is connected to a wireless network in a Starbucks Coffee shop. Most likely, this does not work with a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ due to its higher power consumption.

Important for Raspberry Pi 4: the firmware updates in late autumn 2019 reduce overall power consumption.

I can’t get tethering to work. What’s wrong with it?

Your TorBox must receive enough power. Therefore the tethering option is the last choice because attached smartphones charge their battery as soon as they are connected to the USB port. This could lead to an underpowered Raspberry Pi, which could result in various unforeseen behaviors (see the two questions/answers above). For that reason, it is recommended to charge your smartphone on another power source, to set up a personal hotspot, and to use one of the two “Wireless network” entries in the main menu.

Whoever wants to give a try: using tethering is simple. For example, in case of an iPhone: unlock your iPhone, but let the personal hotspot disabled for the time being and connect your iPhone with your Raspberry Pi’s USB port. Choose to trust your iPhone (necessary!). Enable personal hotspot on your iPhone (USB only). Finally, choose “Tethering or USB ethernet adapter (eth1)” in the TorBox main menu.

When I’m connected with TorBox and use the Tor Browser on one of the clients, isn’t that a risk for my security/anonymity (“Tor over Tor” scenario)?

The necessary level of security/anonymity is not for all users the same and highly dependent on your threat model. Do you want to protect yourself from data theft in a public network (e.g., in a hotel), do you want to avoid government censorship and keep your destination addresses secret, or do you want to remain anonymous to a site operator when accessing the site, possibly even to an international intelligence service? This sentence already contains four different main scenarios! Additionally, the consequences of revealing identity must be taken into account. This is the reason why we warn on the main page that although security and overcoming censorship are relatively easy, to stay anonymous, however, is more difficult. Malware, Cookies, Java, Flash, Javascript, and more can compromise your anonymity. Even the people from the Tor Project themselves state that “Tor can’t solve all anonymity problems. It focuses only on protecting the transport of data.” Therefore, it is strongly advised not to use TorBox if your well-being depends on your anonymity. In such a situation, it is advisable to use Tails (read here, here and here why).

By default, Tor is using three hops.
By default, Tor is using three hops.

When a user connected to TorBox uses the Tor Browser, without any modification, the data stream goes through two circuits, which means that you get six hops instead of three. It is not guaranteed that you’ll get three different hops – you could end up with the same hops, maybe in reverse or mixed order. The Tor FAQ discusses the use of more than three hops and states that “without further protections, it seems likely that an adversary can estimate your path length anyway”.

However, we consider this to be highly unlikely. The security will not be compromised in a “Tor over Tor” scenario — the data stream is still encrypted. Based on the design of Tor, the file size of a package is always the same because Tor sends data in chunks of 512 bytes. There is no specific signature, which would indicate more encryption layers. As long as the encryption of the layers is not broken, how should an attacker know that there are not three but six hops? Of course, a global passive adversary could track your data to the Tor network and the data from the Tor network, might be able to correlate the two data streams and break your anonymity. However, the problem of such a correlation exists regardless of the number of hops. Also, the effort necessary for the adversary should not be underestimated. Roger Dingledine, president and co-founder of the Tor Project, said in a Def Con 27 presentation, an intelligence service of the size of the French one is probably not capable to de-anonymize someone with a traffic correlation analysis. Usually, it is behavioral errors that lead to a breach of anonymity and not a data correlation.

So for example, French intelligence probably isn’t in a good position to be able to see enough of the traffic on the Internet to start correlating people.

Roger Dingledine, “The Tor Censorship Arms Race The Next Chapter“, Def Con 27, August 2019.

What does that mean? More hops, in whatever order, don’t break the encryption layers. The size of the data packages is always the same and not dependent on the number of completed hops. Traffic correlation, in theory, could be a problem for anonymity, not only in a “Tor over Tor” scenario. However, the amount of work for the adversary should not be underestimated and can probably only be implemented in the case of an internationally operating intelligence service. For these reasons, we believe that “Tor over Tor” does not pose a risk to a user’s security, and the risk of maintaining anonymity is not significantly increased.

Even if the “Tor over Tor” scenario isn’t a risk for security and anonymity, how can I avoid it when I combine TorBox and the Tor Browser?

Yes, there are easy ways to avoid that. We explain in “Using Tor Browser and TorBox together“, how you can prevent a “Tor over Tor” scenario using Tor Browser and TorBox together and provide for macOS, Linux, and Windows an easy to use shell script / batch file.

If I have two or more clients, let’s say device 1 and device 2, connected to the TorBox will it intelligently make sure each client has its own tor circuit?

Yes, each client has its own circuit. However, all applications on the same client use the same circuit. For example: if you open Firefox and Chrome and check your connection, both browsers on the same machine have the same external IP. In contrast, in the Tor Browser, every new domain gets its own circuit — this is an advantage of the Tor Browser. TorBox changes the circuit (middle and exit node) all 10 minutes (that’s the default for Tor).

What are the main differences between TorBox and Whonix?
TorBox running on a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B in combination with a PiJuice HAT and a power bank in a restaurant.
TorBox running on a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B in combination with a PiJuice HAT and a power bank in a restaurant.

Interestingly, this question comes up quite often. Probably because Whonix was named TorBOX at the beginning. We didn’t know that at the beginning of our project in 2011/12 (there is also a hidden mailbox service, which is only accessible from Tor, called TorBox). To be clear, TorBox has nothing to do with Whonix. According to our understanding, with Whonix, the Tor gateway and the workstation run on the same physical machine, but the two are virtually separated. With TorBox, this separation is physical: there is the Raspberry Pi (TorBox) as gateway / router / firewall, and separated from that your workstation, e.g., your Laptop. Just like a virtual machine in Whonix, the workstation does not have a public IP address when using TorBox. With TorBox, all client devices are served with an IP address from a private IPv4 address space (192.168.42.x and 192.168.43.x). IPv6 support is not yet implemented, but we think about using unique local addresses for the implementation to have the same separation between the gateway (TorBox) and the workstation. In other words: if the workstation is compromised, your real IP address will not be leaked — but this does not necessarily mean that anonymity is granted. A dedicated attacker would probably hide his attack and collect as much information as possible about your workstation, the content on that workstation, and its owner. Again, if your well-being depends on your anonymity, Tails is probably the better choice for you.

Could you incorporate pi-hole to remove ads?

Pi-hole is a fantastic project to block advertisements and probably also some malware. However, the filtering is carried out exclusively based on blocking lists. The pi-hole software does not contain any functions that check the content of the requested data. Furthermore, filtering is only carried out based on domain names. Advertising or tracking code, which is already retrieved on the client-side by accessing specific IPs and therefore does not require a DNS query, cannot be influenced by the pi-hole software. However, this type of blocking can be achieved just as well for websites by plugins such as uBlock Origin or Privacy Badger. If you are using the Tor Browser, you don’t need a DNS filtering system on TorBox.

On the other hand, integrating pi-hole may prove difficult, because pi-hole and TorBox are probably unscrewing on the same network tools and configurations. Furthermore, such combinations can lead to security risks – the more complex and multi-modular a system is, the higher the risk. In the long term, we want to look at integration, but at the moment, there are more pressing issues with TorBox that we want to address first. Increasing the complexity of the system would be counterproductive.

Finally, according to the “The Design and Implementation of the Tor Browser“, site-specific or filter-based addons such as AdBlock PlusRequest PolicyGhosteryPriv3, and Sharemenot are to be avoided. These addons do not add any real privacy to a proper implementation of Tor Browsers’ privacy requirements. On the contrary, the unique filter sets that each user creates or installs provides a wealth of fingerprinting targets. Development efforts should be focused on general solutions that prevent tracking by all third parties, rather than a list of specific URLs or hosts. Even TorBox is not Tor Browser, and the addons mentioned above are not pi-hole, we think the situation is comparable.

I can’t get TorBox to work and need more detailed help! What should I do?

In this case, send us an email with the following information:

  • Which version of the Raspberry Pi and TorBox do you use?
  • Could you connect the TorBox WiFi (for example, “TorBox030”)? If no: Which clients did you try?
  • Could you access the TorBox with an SSH client, and did you see the main menu? If no: Which SSH clients did you try?
  • How did you connect your TorBox with the Internet? Did you already try with a wireless USB adapter?
  • What kind of power supply do you use?
  • In which country did you try to connect TorBox with the Internet.
  • What else did you already try (which menu entries), and which error messages did you see?

Additionally, and if possible, we need the following files below (added to the email). You can get the files by downloading them from your TorBox by using an FTP client, which supports SFTP (it uses the same login and password as your SSH client). Alternatively, you can retrieve these files by connecting a USB stick with your TorBox. You can mount the USB stick most probably by “sudo mount /dev/sda /mnt”, and then copy all the below-mentioned files on it:

  • /etc/tor/torrc
  • /etc/iptables.ip4.nat
  • /etc/network/interfaces
  • /etc/hostapd/hostapd.conf (don’t forget to delete your password)
  • /var/log/tor/notice.log
  • the output (copy-paste) of “ifconfig”

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