"Vanity" onion addresses are a partial workaround for the difficulty of memorizing the 56-char long onion addresses.
A vanity address is an onion address that starts with a pre-chosen number of characters, usually a meaningful name related to a specific Onion Service.
For instance, one might try to generate an onion address for the
mysitename website and end up with something looking like this:
This has some advantages:
It's easy for Onion Services users to know about which site they're about to access.
It has some branding appeal to site owners.
It's easy for Onion Services operators to debug their logs and know which services have errors without recurring to a table or to memorize some random characters from a regular onion address.
An attacker wishing to impersonate an existing onionsite by creating a fake version of it might use vanity addresses as an additional way to convince users that their address is the correct.
If the legitimate site does not use a vanity address, users might think that the fake site is the valid one because it has a nicer address.
But it also has some disadvantages:
It's relatively easy for anybody with average computing resources to create other keys beginning with
mysitename (although they are very unlikely to come up with the exact key from the example above).
So, in a sense, vanity keys might be confusing and offer a false sense of identity: users can easily be mistaken into accessing an impersonating onion service just because it starts with
It consumes resources (time and energy): the bigger the vanity name, the longer (and more computing power) it takes.
The long term solution involves a better onion naming scheme, with existing proposals for that, that can make vanity addresses only as a way to help system administrators to group onion addresses.
For example, when running many Onionbalance backends.
Vanity address generation
mkp224o is one of the tools that can be used to generate vanity addresses.
Step 1. Install the requirements
Step 2. Follow the build instructions
Step 3. Run the generator
$ ./mkp224o -d onions mysitename
This will create a new folder
onions and folders for each of the discovered onion addresses and their respective keys.
For more options, refer to:
$ ./mkp224o -h