The TOR browser is popularly recognized as an innovative web browser with the ability to privatize your web traffic by using a specialized TOR network. With this, you can easily safeguard your identity when browsing online. This is helpful among users who want to be anonymous on the web.
If you are researching a counterbalance litigant in a legal case, stalking a competitor, another business, or someone who thinks that it’s shady for your ISP and the government to spy on your online activities, then the TOR browser sounds like the best solution for you. However, you need to keep in mind that browsing online via TOR is much slower compared to Clearnet. Besides this, some primary web services block TOR users and prevent them from entering the site.
Using the TOR browser is also considered as a criminal activity in authoritarian regimes that aim to stop people from publishing, reading, and communicating anonymously. Currently, nonconformists and journalists from different parts of the world have recognized TOR as the foundation of democracy on the web. With this, experts strive hard to modify and upgrade the anonymity features of TOR.
Where to Download TOR Browser
Tor Browser is available on many platforms. You can use it in Windows, MAC, and Linux, and it also has a mobile version. You can download the computer versions of the browser at the Tor Project website. On the other hand, if you are an Android user, look for OrFox or OrBot on F-Droid or Google Play Store. iOS users can get Tor Browser from the Apple App Store.
How to Use the TOR Browser
The thing that most people rave about the Tor browser is using it is as easy and effortless as downloading and running it. You can download it using the same procedure as downloading Firefox or Chrome. You won’t have any problems operating this state of the art browser because its mechanism works the same way as a standard browser, just with an added innovative anonymity feature.
Unfortunately, if you haven’t tried out Tor before, the very first thing that will catch your attention is its slower speed or at least the fact that it is much slower if you compare it to regular internet browsing. Despite this, the Tor browser has been modified and improved over the past years. It has become a bit faster with reliable internet connections. You can now play YouTube videos via the Tor browser. This only proves that the experts behind this top-notch browser work hard to elevate Tor’s performance.
Tor Browser provides you an entryway to onion web sites that are only accessible in the Tor network. For example, type "https://www.nytimes3xbfgragh.onion" to go to the website of The New York Times or "https://www.facebookcorewwwi.onion" to get to Facebook using the TOR web browser.
Try it and come back right after. Did it work? Will you able to open the sites? No, you didn’t. This is because you can only access these sites when you are using a Tor browser. With this remarkable feature, it is now possible to update yourself with daily news by reading anonymously online.
This is a perfect feature if you live in a country where you don’t feel comfortable with the fact that the government is spying on your online activities, including on the sites that you visit if you feel like reading something. And worst: you have no idea how long they’re monitoring your every move online. As part of the freedom to ensure anonymity, even criminals are protected when they use the Tor browser.
As a program, the tor browser can be used by anyone, including the government, security agencies of countries, private individuals and even criminals. It hides the IP address, at the same time, it encrypts data according to the tor protocol. Security of data also prevents any attack while using a tor browser.
For privacy-conscious individuals out there, the Tor browser is your best defense against unwanted monitoring from hackers and the government. However, one major setback of using onion browsers is it is blocked on many sites online. On top of that, it doesn’t have any helpful error messages to warn you. If a site you usually visit turns 404 when you visit it using a Tor browser, the site might have protective measures that block traffic that came from Tor.
On the other hand, if the sites didn’t block the Tor browser, they will have endless captchas, which is pretty annoying because you used the browser to achieve a secured browsing experience, not click numerous captchas at some website. But even if Tor has these drawbacks, it is still one of the best private browsers protecting anonymity.
How TOR Browser Works
Tor Browser directs every web traffic that you create to the Tor network, which anonymizes it right away – hiding your actual identity from the government and hackers. Tor is made of three-layer proxy. These are hidden services which include hiding the IP address. The servers are located in different countries. The data is not routed in a straight line, instead it is routed around the tor servers. Like an onion, an additional layer of encryption is added as the data is passed from one tor server to the other.
Think about the layers of an onion has because it specifically represents the service provided by this browser. The onion has become a significant representation of Tor, which is why its logo is inspired by it. Tor browser randomly links to any of the publicly listed entry modes, bringing that traffic to a randomly chosen relay, and lastly releasing your traffic via the third and final exit node. The result? Don’t mind if Google or another service provider greets you in a foreign language. These services examine your IP address and determine the country that you reside in and the language that you utilize, so they’ll know how to conceal your real identity online.
The exciting thing about using Tor is you will usually appear as if you are in a physical location halfway around the world. This browser is one that you shouldn’t miss using, especially if your primary goal is to browse online without revealing your IP address and browsing activity to the government.
The TOR Project
The Tor Project, Inc, was established as 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2006, however, the concept of "onion routing" started during the mid-1990s. Similar to its users, researchers, developers, and founders who created Tor are also made up of individuals from different groups. This only shows that the company values diversity. However, despite having a lot of differences, the people behind the development of the Tor browser share one common belief and that is internet users deserve to have private internet access to an uncensored web.
During the middle of the 1990s, people suffer from the absence of powerful security on the web and its ability to be utilized as monitoring and surveillance were very evident. Due to this underlying issue, Mike Reed, David Goldschlag and Paul Syverson of the US Naval Research Lab or NRL started to question themselves if they could come up with an internet connection that doesn’t expose the identity of the users, even if there are authorities that pry on the network.
This curiosity among the three members of NRL started in 1995 and eventually, they’ve come up with the answer on their own – or perhaps they’ve created a state of the art internet connection that blows everyone’s mind. The three gentlemen developed and launched the first-ever research designs and models of onion routing.
The major vision of onion routing was to create a way to utilize the internet with extreme privacy and zero pryings from unwanted authorities. The solution was to send traffic to different servers and encrypt it during every step until it reaches the site. This is a simple and straightforward procedure yet it creates outstanding results, and gave way to an anonymous method of using the internet.
When the early 2000s kicked in, Roger Dingledine, a fresh graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) started working on developing an NRL onion routing project alongside Paul Syverson. To make this original creation work at NRL and stand out against other onion routing projects that were appearing almost everywhere, Roger named the project Tor, which is an acronym for The Onion Routing. After this, another expert joined Roger’s team. Nick Mathewson, Roger’s classmate at MIT got in with the project.
From their curiosity in the 1990s, onion routing was developed to depend on a decentralized network. This ingenious network has to be managed by entities that have comprehensive trust assumptions and interests, and the software has to be free and open to optimize separation and transparency. Before this, the Tor network was launched in October 2002 with a free code and software license. At the end of 2003, the network already garnered approximately 12 volunteer needs, the majority located in the US and one in Germany.
Ever since then, the Tor browser was more accessible to all, even to regular internet users, as well as activists, which is why it became a key tool during the beginning of the Arab Spring in late 2010. The Tor network didn’t just safeguard the user’s actual identity on the web, it also enabled them to enter social media, important sources, and websites that were blocked. Then, the Snowden revelations in 2013 arrived and the need for equipment that will protect people against mass surveillance became a major concern.
Tor was very helpful to Snowden’s ratting and during that time, it also proved that the browser is impossible to get through and crack since information and details written on documents were tightly secured. As people become more and more aware of law enforcement surveillance, tracking, and censorship, these deterrents to internet freedom also became prevalent. Currently, the Tor network has a massive number of relays operated by volunteers, as well as millions of users in different parts of the world. If you are wondering what keeps Tor safe and protected, it would be their diversity and manifoldness.
The Tor Project and the team behind it strive hard to give every user the privacy they need when browsing online. They also provide everyone access to uncensored internet, making it the world’s most powerful equipment for freedom and privacy online.
What is The Onion Browser?
Tor is the acronym for The Onion Router – as you can see from their logo. Initially, it was a worldwide network of servers that was created within the US Navy to allow people to browse online anonymously and privately. This was the most prominent tool during the early 2000s when surveillance and monitoring prevented people from safely browsing on the web.
Presently, the Tor Project is considered as a non-profit organization with the primary purpose that revolves around research and the creation of online privacy tools. Browsing Tor works in a simple yet very effective way.
It cloaks your actual identity by directing traffic across multiple Tor servers with different IP addresses, and encrypts your internet traffic to make it completely anonymous, removing any possibility that it will be traced back to you. If ever someone attempts a traffic analysis or attempts to decode your identity and internet whereabouts, they will see nothing but traffic coming from numerous servers on the Tor network.
They won’t see any traffic coming from your personal computer, which means that they won’t be able to identify who you are.
This is very useful for users who are conscious about their privacy and want to protect themselves from unauthorized monitoring and surveillance. To use this network, all you have to do is to download the Tor browser itself. All of your activities carried out to the browser will be directed to the Tor network and you don’t have to configure or set up anything. Before this, Tor traffic results in a slower internet connection since your data and information goes through many different relays. The protection and security you get to come with a small price of experiencing a lagging internet that is slightly slower tor traffic compared to regular internet browsing.
With so many issues regarding unauthorized surveillance from the government, many people would want to be anonymous when they enter the internet. For example, if you are a hacker who wanted to remain anonymous from the government, or a journalist who resides in an oppressive country, or someone who lives under a dictatorship – Tor is one of the most reliable and hassle-free ways to privatize your traffic, and the best part is, it is offered for free! Even if it’s not that perfect – expect sluggish internet – it is still a great option if you are looking for an effective way to be anonymous online.
Using an Anonymous Browser
Tor Browser provides the finest anonymous and secure browsers that you can avail today, but just like any browser out there, it is not perfect. Researchers and tor network experts are now looking for ways to reinforce and improve the performance of Tor or even invent new anonymity equipment that the next generation could use. However, with all of these on-going projects to strengthen Tor, the governments are also out there researching for ways on how to effectively beat their anonymity features.
By far, the most successful attempt to de-anonymize users of the Tor browser is to hack them. Specifically, it was the FBI who turned to this strategy to successfully detect many criminal cases. This led to the enactment of Rule 41 in 2016 by US Chief Justice Roberts of the Supreme Court. It gave the FBI freedom to mass hack massive numbers of computers in all parts of the world with just one warrant. This hacking technique alarmed everyone, especially innocent Tor users since they might get involved in such fishing attacks.
Conclusion: Internet Security and Tor
As mentioned above, if you are just an ordinary user who peacefully scrolls through Facebook and looks at memes all day, you don’t have to worry about any monitoring from the government. The only problem you will encounter is a slow internet connection, which is notorious in Tor browsers.
With regards to this, you might want to protect your internet instead of privatizing it, if you’re utilizing a Wi-fi in public. In this case, you need to ensure that you have HTTPS on every site that reinforces it, and possibly turn to VPN service to further encrypt all your internet traffic when you’re in public places or somewhere that’s away from your home.
Furthermore, if you want to remain anonymous since you are downloading huge files and want to hide your downloading activities from people, the tor browser is not your best option. It will not keep you anonymous, but instead, it will only slow down your traffic. The most suitable option you can turn to is a VPN service. However, always keep in mind that there’s no such thing as 100% secured or anonymous, whether you are utilizing a VPN or Tor. It always comes down to choosing the right equipment to cover the job.