Tor network was designed and developed to provide anonymous connections without any trackbacks. Law enforcement agencies and other spies were using Tor to communicate. Since Tor has been open source and used by thousands of users, and handled by unknown volunteers, it’s become more vulnerable than ever before. So it’s necessary to use Tor safely and anonymously.
Even though Tor still provides more security and privacy features than any other browser, there are still privacy loopholes that need to be patched.
The primary reason to use Tor is to access deep and dark web networks, which cannot be accessed from another browser. Though there are legitimate uses of the Dark web, 57% of the active services on the Tor network belong to organizations that carry out illegal activities. That’s where Tor becomes vulnerable.
A Little About Tor Working Mechanism
Tor, instead of encrypting the entire data traffic, provides layered encryption. It routes the data through multiple nodes, and when the data leaves the exit node, it goes unencrypted. This makes your data vulnerable to both spying and hacking. Your ISP can also throttle and monitor your connection using the Tor browser.
Nonetheless, despite all the flaws and vulnerabilities, the Tor browser is somewhat safe to use if you practice specific tips to enhance your security on the Tor browser.
Risks Associated With Tor Browser
There are some issues and risks associated with the Tor browser, and it is crucial to know about them to learn how vulnerable you might be.
The following mentioned below are some of the issues of using the Tor browser:
- Tor is vulnerable to exit nodes and malware attacks, so it doesn’t guarantee complete protection.
- Some network administrators have blocked access to the Tor browser.
- Tor browser only provides layered encryption instead of encrypting the entire data. It means encryption is only within the layers. Your data remains vulnerable and unprotected as it leaves Tor’s exit nodes to its destination.
- Using the Tor browser results in slow and sluggish connection speed. The traffic routes through several nodes, increasing loading time and decreasing speed.
- Your ISP can’t see your activity, but they can see that you’re using the Tor browser. As a result, they start throttling your connection and can even target you for surveillance.
- The exit nodes can log the contents of the request you made. They can modify the nodes or inject them with malware.
All these points signify that Tor is not safe to use. But by practicing some protective measures or using a reliable VPN, you can reduce the dangers and enhance your online privacy while using the Tor browser.
Note: not all VPNs do support Tor over VPN. Double encryption could be a nightmare if we talk about “Internet speed.” Your browsing experience will be slower than you ever imagined. A Compatible VPN with the Tor browser will solve both issues, your ISP can’t see if you are using TOR, and your browsing speed will be improved.
How To Use Tor Safely – 6 Tips
As mentioned above, the flaws and severe privacy issues related to Tor. You need to get secured if you are using Tor to access the deep and dark web. Here are some pro tips to avoid any mishaps while browsing.
1. Installing Tor Safely
As per the working mechanism, Tor established the connection first with ISP. This way, your ISP monitor and throttle your connection.
Furthermore, they put your IP in suspicious profiles records. In simple, your ISP does know when you use the Tor network.
Before installing and using the Tor browser, it’s crucial to use VPN for safe and secure access.
- Install VPN First. Here is the compatible VPN with Tor
- Then, Click Here to download The Tor.
- Run the file to set up the Tor BROWSER.
- Select a destination folder.
- Click on “Install” and download the Tor browser.
Once it’s completed, open the Tor browser and “set up” the circuit.
2. Always Enable VPN
The best way to enhance your security on the Tor browser is to use a compatible VPN. A VPN encrypts all your traffic and replaces your IP address with a temporary IP address. In this way, your ISP can’t detect which websites you’re visiting. They can only view the encrypted traffic coming to and from the VPN traffic but can’t intercept it.
There are two ways to use a VPN to boost your security on the Tor browser:
- Tor Over VPN: The easiest way to connect to the Tor browser guarantees complete online protection. First, connect to the VPN and then route your traffic to the web via Tor. By doing so, your data becomes encrypted before it is routed and maximizes your online Privacy and security. However, it doesn’t protect you against malicious nodes.
- VPN Over Tor: It is a bit complicated method in which you first connect to the Tor browser and then manually configure the VPN. It protects against malicious nodes, but it isn’t recommended to use because of its connection complexity.
It is better to use Tor over VPN instead of VPN over Tor. Make sure that you choose a reliable VPN provider that works efficiently with the Tor browser to enhance your online Privacy.
3. Use Bridges
Network administrators ban the Tor traffic by blocking the entry nodes through their systems. You can connect to a bridge to get around these restrictions. They look like regular traffic and don’t reveal that you are connected to the Tor browser. Also, there is no complete list of bridges so, even if the ISP filters the connection to know the Tor relays, they can’t block them. In this way, they add an extra layer of anonymity and prevent getting caught while connected to the Tor browser.
There are no significant drawbacks to using Tor bridges. But for better results and protection, it’s suggested to connect to a VPN first.
4. Use Antivirus Software
The dark web is a hub for illicit activities. If you use it for some legitimate purpose, hackers can trick you into downloading malware or spyware that can compromise your Privacy and even harm your other files. When you use the Tor browser to access the dark web, there are higher chances of becoming a target of malware or spyware.
To avoid such a thing from happening, run the best antivirus software. It scans and removes malware or viruses on your device and boosts your security levels.
5. Refrain From Torrenting
Tor Browser is not built for P2P file-sharing. The Tor exit nodes block the file-sharing traffic, and if you still download torrents, be prepared for slow speed. If you use Tor for downloading, you are compromising your anonymity to avoid it.
Also, the insecure design of the BitTorrent client makes your IP address exposed to trackers and poses a threat to your online anonymity.
6. Use Private Search Engines
Popular search engines like Google or Microsoft Edgework work as a data collection tool. They collect and share your sensitive information, such as search queries and website visits. Thus, you should use the private search engine on Tor. The private search engines make your searches anonymous, hide the IP address, prevent trackers and adware from spoiling your browsing experience.
However, according to Redefine Privacy, most privacy search engines have a shady logging policy and jurisdiction. They are not the best but way better than Google.
7. Practice Safe Browsing Tips
You must follow some safe browsing tips that further enhance your security when using the Tor browser. These tips include:
- Always check the URL of the browsing websites. Ensure that you use encrypted HTTPS websites instead of HTTP.
- Delete your cookies, local data, and temporary files that might contain some malicious codes.
- Configure your Tor browser settings and set your security level.
- Ensure that you’re always connected to a VPN compatible with Tor.
- Avoid using any suspicious and social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter.
- Use a virtual identity that doesn’t include matching information from your real-world identity.
- Update your system regularly.
How to Access the Dark Web on Tor browser?
The Dark Web is the internet not indexed and used for criminal activities. The dark web is a private network where users’ IP address remains hidden. Thus, this makes it a secure network to carry out confidential business activities and commit illegal actions.
But besides the potential illegal uses, you can also use the dark web for several legitimate reasons. For instance, if you are a journalist or a whistleblower, you want to share confidential information by keeping your identity hidden.
The Tor browser allows access to .onion sites that are best to access the dark web securely. They aren’t like the regular domain name, and using such a domain makes it impossible for the site or the user to know from where the other party belongs. Using a VPN and connecting to the Tor browser for maximum privacy and protection is better.
Who Uses the Tor Browser?
The purpose behind developing the Tor browser was to gain anonymity while surfing the web. People who hide or want to benefit from online anonymity use the Tor browser. Besides this, Tor browser is used in the following situations:
- People who want to keep their activities confidential from ISPs such as journalists or political activists. It routes the traffic in multiple layers, so; it isn’t easy to trace back the original user. Thus, you can surf the web without leaving any digital footprints.
- Users who want to circumvent censorship benefit from Tor, like people in China or Iran. Tor provides anonymity by hiding your IP address and getting around the firewalls to access the open web.
- Tor browser also serves as a gateway to access the dark and the deep web.
- Law enforcement agencies who want to trace criminals use the Tor browser to gather their previous criminal records.
- People who are concerned about cyber spying. Because of Tor’s onion routing method, your private details are obscured as the data passes through the open network. Thus, making it difficult for anyone to spy on your IP address.
Users also ask these questions about Tor!
Tor itself is a legal browser to use. However, many people use it to access the dark web to commit illegal activities. Using the Tor browser to perform illicit activities doesn’t make it legal.
No. The Tor software makes it difficult to track web browsing and other internet activity because of the complex nature of encryption and the number of points where data packets can be obscured along the route from one destination to another.
Yes, it would be best to use a VPN with Tor to keep your anonymity high.
The problem is that it’s not known if Tor is enough to make you anonymous, even encrypted links can be intercepted on the Tor network. Using a VPN along with Tor will make sure no third party can discover who or where you are.
Tor is a service that allows people to browse the internet anonymously. When you use Tor, your traffic is routed through several servers before it reaches its destination.
This makes it difficult for anyone to track your activity. Yes, Internet providers see Tor connectivity or browsing but don’t know the activities. However, keep in mind that Tor is not foolproof, and there are ways for someone to detect that you are using Tor.
The NSA has the ability to track Tor users if they are determined to do so. However, the agency typically does not focus its resources on tracking individuals who are using Tor for benign purposes. Instead, the NSA is more likely to target individuals who are using Tor to engage in criminal activity.
Tor and VPN are the best tools for maximizing your online security, but they are not the same. Tor is a browser for providing anonymity to the users, while VPN is software used for online protection.
A VPN encapsulates the data in deep packets and routes it through a remote server. The VPN server connects you to the requested website you want to visit. Also, a VPN masks the actual IP address by replacing it with a temporary IP address which guarantees complete online protection. In contrast, the Tor browser protects your Privacy differently. It provides layer-to-layer encryption and obscures the IP address.
Hence, a VPN is a more reliable and safer option to use. But you can use a combination of VPN and Tor to access the Tor browser safely.
Tor browser provides great online anonymity. But certain risks question Tor’s credibility and safety. Compromised Tor nodes, layered encryption, and slow internet speed make Tor unreliable to use. But you can reduce these risks and enhance your Tor’s security by using a VPN, using privacy search engines, antivirus software, and other safe browsing tips.