How to use Tor Safely

Julia Sowells

Browsing Anonymously 

Tor, as many internet users may know, is a free software that helps establish anonymous communication between computers. The name originates as an acronym for the software project ‘The Onion Router’. ‘The Onion Router’ helps users conceal their location and usage and protects them from people conducting traffic analysis or network surveillance. This is done with the help of “onion routing”, which is encryption in the application layer of a communication protocol stack. Thus, by going anonymous online, a user can hide the real IP address and also unblock websites. Tor can be used by downloading the browser (also known as the onion browser or the Darknet browser) and then setting it up.

How to use Tor safely…

There is no doubt that Tor helps ensure anonymous browsing. Still, remember that hackers can always find loopholes that would help them identify the users. There are certain things that would help use it safely. Let’s examine some of them:

Using Tor and a VPN (Virtual Private Network) together helps a lot. Once you use a VPN network, all the surfing that you do would seem to come from the VPN server and not your computer. Thus, by using a VPN network based in some other place, you can give the impression that you are browsing from that place. VPN masks you and Tor makes your traffic go private.

Connect to a VPN, then open browser- If your ISP sees that you are connecting to an entry mode, you’d be under the radar of suspicion. The best way to avoid this would be to first connect to a VPN and then open the TOR browser. Your ISP won’t be able to see that you are connected to Tor and VPN won’t be able to see the contents of the traffic.

Refrain from torrenting

It’s best to refrain from torrenting while using Tor. This is because Torrent traffic is not anonymous. Therefore, if you engage in torrenting, it could obliterate your anonymity.

What a user looks like

There are different sections of people who use Tor to mask their identities, for various obvious reasons. They include:

  • Whistleblowers who wouldn’t want to lose their jobs.
  • Journalists who would want to protect their sources.
  • Dissidents who would obviously want to remain anonymous.
  • Law enforcement officials who’d be trying to track down criminals.
  • IT professionals conducting security testing.

Users should exercise caution!

Tor is legal, but connecting to it can seem suspicious in some parts of the world. In some cases, authorities will question you just for using it. There have been many instances when the law enforcement authorities or the ISP would quiz people when their ISP logs start showing that they connect to Tor frequently. Thus, it becomes important that users exercise some amount of caution when browsing. Never endeavor to do anything illegal under the mask of anonymity.

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