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How to Use Tor Safely? (7 Must-Do Tips) To Enhance Your Privacy While browsing

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ow to Use Tor Safely? (7 Must-Do Tips) To Enhance Your Privacy While browsing
A Quick Overview Of Tor Brower Security and Safety

Tor does provide some level of protection, but it will never provide data encryption and enough privacy to secure your entire connection. here are quick steps you can take to use Tor safely.

  1. Enable Tor VPN – before getting into Tor, you need to enable the most secure VPN.
  2. Install Tor Privately – It's important to install and set up Tor properly before use.
  3. Use Bridges – You can connect to a bridge to get around these restrictions.
  4. Install Anti-Malware – spyware that can compromise your privacy and harm your other files.
  5. Avoid Torrenting – If you use Tor for downloading, you are compromising your anonymity to avoid it. 
  6. Use Private Search Engines – Private search engines make your searches anonymous.
  7. Practice Safe Browsing – You must follow some safe browsing tips to enhance security.

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, 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, privacy loopholes still need to be patched.

Attackers exploit weaknesses in the Tor architecture; in 2014, PlayStation hackers showed how easy it is to spin up Tor nodes. Also, government agents exploited a flaw within the Tor browser that allows them to run JavaScript code and hack suspecting targets. 

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 goes unencrypted when it leaves the exit node. This makes your data vulnerable to both spying and hacking. Your ISP can also throttle and monitor your connection using the Tor browser.

This is how the Tor network works
This is how the Tor network works

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 with 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 – 7 Tips

how to use Tor safely 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 profile records. In simple, your ISP does know when you use the Tor network.

Before installing and using the Tor browser, VPN is crucial for safe and secure access.

  1. Install VPN First. Here is the compatible VPN with Tor
  2. Then, Click Here to download The Tor. 
  3. Run the file to set up the Tor BROWSER.
  4. Select a destination folder.
  5. Click on “Install” and download the Tor browser.

Once completed, open the Tor browser and “set up” the circuit.

2. Always Enable a VPN

A compatible VPN is the best way to enhance your security on the Tor browser. A VPN encrypts all your traffic and replaces your IP address with a temporary one. This way, your ISP can't detect which websites you're visiting. They can only view the encrypted traffic from the VPN 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. 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 to 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 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, connecting to a VPN is suggested 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 BitTorrent client's insecure design exposes your IP address to trackers and threatens your online anonymity.

6. Use Private Search Engines

Popular search engines like Google or Microsoft Edgework work as data collection tools. They collect and share your sensitive information, such as search queries and website visits. Thus, you should use the private search engine on Tor. Private search engines make your searches anonymous, hide the IP address, and 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 social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. 
  • Use a virtual identity that doesn't include matching information from your real-world identity.
  •  Disable Flash and JavaScript because websites can track you from browsing activities without providing protection using the Tor browser.
  •  Update your system regularly.

How to Access the Dark Web on the 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 best 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, the 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 to the original user. Thus, you can surf the web without leaving any digital footprints.
  • Users who want to circumvent censorship, like people in China or Iran, benefit from Tor. 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 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. Tor's onion routing method obscures your private details as the data passes through the open network. Thus, making it difficult for anyone to spy on your IP address.

Parting Words 

Tor browser provides great online anonymity. But certain risks question Tor's credibility and safety. Compromised Tor nodes, layered encryption, and slow internet speed makes Tor unreliable. But you can reduce these risks and enhance your Tor's security by using a VPN, privacy search engines, antivirus software, and other safe browsing tips.


Is Tor Browser Illegal To Use?

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.

Can I be tracked if I use the Tor browser?

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.

Should I use a VPN with Tor?

Yes, using a VPN with Tor would be best to keep your anonymity high.

The problem is that it's unknown whether Tor is enough to make you anonymous, even encrypted links can be intercepted on the Tor network. Using a VPN and Tor will ensure no third party can discover who or where you are.

Can Internet providers see Tor?

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, remember that Tor is not foolproof, and there are ways for someone to detect that you are using Tor.

Can NSA track 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.

Is Tor A VPN? 

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.

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Waqas is a cybersecurity journalist and writer who has a knack for writing technology and online privacy-focused articles. He strives to help achieve a secure online environment and is skilled in writing topics related to cybersecurity, AI, DevOps, Cloud security, and a lot more. As seen in: Computer.org, Nordic APIs, Infosecinstitute.com, Tripwire.com, and VentureBeat.

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