In this article, we will learn what Tor is, how it works and is it legal?
What is Tor?
An Onion Router or Tor is a network that allows users to stay anonymous on the internet and escape the surveillance others, user identification, or tracking have while using the internet. You can access the Tor network with the help of the Mozilla Firefox ESR web browser.
Tor allows users to browse the web anonymously by concealing their real identity. It protects users from any network spying and traffic analysis software.
Tor is probably the most popular and secure option available for anonymous internet connections. To avoid confusion, in this article we will be talking about the Tor network, not the Tor web browser.
Who created Tor?
Tor uses the ‘Onion Routing’ principle, developed by Paul Syverson, Michael G. Reed and David Goldschlag at the US Naval Research Laboratory in 1990. Later development of Tor was carried out by Tor Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
Tor Project Inc. is a non-profit organization that maintains Tor and is responsible for its development. It mainly receives funds from the US government, and additional aid from the Swedish Government and various NGOs and individual donors.
How does Tor work?
Tor uses the ‘Onion Routing’ method, in which user data is encrypted and then passed through the various relays present in the Tor network. As a result, it creates multiple layers of encryption (these layers are like an onion) that are hard to track to keep the user’s identity secure. Therefore, no one can find out your identity.
One layer of encryption is decrypted at each Tor relay relay, and the remaining data is passed to any random relay until it reaches the destination host. For the destination server, the final Tor node/exit relay appears as the origin of the data. Therefore, it is difficult to track the identity of the user or the server by any monitoring system acting as a middle man.
In addition to providing anonymity to independent users, Tor can also provide anonymity to websites and servers in the form of Tor Hidden Services. Additionally, P2P applications such as BitTorrent can be configured to use the Tor network and download torrent files.
Is it legal to use Tor?
Yes. The Tor browser and the dark web by itself are not illegal. However, if you do some illegal activities on the dark web using Tor, it is definitely not legal. Therefore, I recommend you to use this technology to take legal actions and improve your privacy.
Connecting Tor and NSA
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden used Tor to leak information about PRISM to The Guardian and The Washington Post.
However, the ending was not very happy. Tor faces criticism on the grounds that it acts as a vehicle for various illegal activities such as data breaches, drug trafficking, gambling, and is home to the dark web. Tor is also used by minded criminals to communicate over the internet while keeping their identities secret, which makes it difficult for security agencies to track them down.
The US National Security Agency (NSA) has called Tor the “King of High-Secure, Low Latency Internet Anonymity”. And BusinessWeek magazine similarly commented on Tor, “perhaps the most effective means of defeating the online surveillance efforts of the world’s intelligence agencies.”
Another speculation is that Tor receives funding from the US Government, which could lead to the assumption that the NSA may have compromised the identities of individual Tor users. However, the former CEO of Tor, Andrew Lewman, has denied any involvement with the NSA.
Is the Tor browser safe?
Various claims have been made about Tor’s anonymity and security. The most famous attack is the Bad Apple Attack, in which researchers claim to have identified around 10,000 IP addresses of active BitTorrent users connected via Tor.
Another big one was the Heartbleed bug, which occurred in April 2014, causing the Tor network to halt for several days.
Traffic tracing is a method used to analyze web traffic by analyzing patterns, responses, and packets in a particular direction. This technique can be used to attack the Tor network by making the attacker’s computer act as a defender.
The main vulnerability is found at the exit points of the Tor network, where the security level is the lowest compared to the rest of the Tor network.
What is the Tor “browser”?
Tor Project Inc. released the Tor Browser, which is a modification of the Extended Support Release (ESR) version of the Mozilla Firefox browser. The browser is portable so that it can be used from external means and also reduces the complexity of installation.
Tor Browser deletes browsing history and cookies after each use, thereby reducing the risk of cookie tracking. We can set up SOCKS (Socket Secure) based applications to use the Tor network by configuring it with a loop-back address.
It is also known as the dark web browser because it allows users to access the dark web pages, which are not accessible by normal browsers.
The Tor browser is available for various desktop operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and macOS. You can visit this link to download the latest version of Tor Browser for Windows, Linux and macOS.
How to download and use the Tor browser?
How to download Tor browser on Windows 10/7/8
- Run the Tor Browser installation file.
- Select the language you want.
- On the next window, select the installation directory.
- Click Install.
The Tor installation file will create a folder called Tor Browser in the directory you choose. Open the folder and run the shortcut file to use the Tor Browser.
For Linux, you will have to decompress the downloaded file using a file decompression command or application.
How to get Tor browser on Android
Tor Browser – the official Tor app for Android
Orbot – a free proxy app with Tor for Android devices.
Orfox – mobile version of Tor Browser for Android devices. (Discontinued development)
Project Guardian, a global developer community founded by Nathan Freitas, is credited for the development of Orfox.
How to get Tor browser on iOS
You can download the Tor browser app for iOS here, created by Mike Tigas, a core contributor to the Tor Project.
Tor . alternatives
I2P and Freenet are other anonymous networks that can act as an alternative to Tor. Additionally, Tails and Subgraph OS are Linux-based distributions with built-in Tor support. In the past, Hornet was also an anonymous network that provided higher network speeds than Tor.
Should You Use Tor?
Tor has proven to be a great method for secure web anonymization, and is available to users for free. The Tor developers did not intend to make it a hotspot for illegal activities, but malicious actors have used Tor for their own gain, such as selling illegal stuff. law on the dark web.
You can use Tor if you want to hide your identity on the web or access some websites that are blocked in your area. However, restrain yourself, don’t do anything that is beyond the law because nothing is absolute. In addition, accessing your social media accounts via Tor may reveal your identity.