TOR Network What is it? How does it work?

Tor Network

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If you’re analyzing a competitor, investigating an opposing litigant in a legal dispute, or just don’t want anyone checking which websites you visit, then the Tor Network might be the right solution for you.

 “Tor Browser is a web browser that anonymizes web traffic using the Tor network, making it easy to protect your identity online”

While it all looks good, we must warn you that browsing the web through the Tor Network is slower than traditional browsers, and some major web services block Tor users.

Tor Browser is also illegal in authoritarian regimes that want to prevent citizens from reading, posting, and communicating anonymously. Journalists and dissidents around the world have embraced Tor as a cornerstone of online democracy today, and researchers are hard at work improving Tor’s anonymity properties.

Where to download Tor Browser?

Tor Browser is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows, and has also been adapted for mobile devices. You can download desktop versions from the Tor Project website. If you have Android, search for OrBot or OrFox in the Google Play Store or F-Droid. iOS users can get OnionBrowser from the Apple App Store.

How to use Tor Browser on mobile phones and cell phones?

More and more people are surfing the web from their phones, and in the poorest parts of the world where mobile devices come first, people are surfing the web only from their phones. As a result, the Tor Project has spent a couple of years working to build a better Tor browser for mobile phone users.

Due to technical restrictions in Apple’s proprietary iOS platform, the Tor Project has not yet released an official Tor Browser for iPhone and iPad users but supports OnionBrowser for iOS users who want to browse the web anonymously.

Significant security enhancements are in the works for OnionBrowser, including fixing some data leakage issues and enabling per-website security settings.

How to use the Tor Network?

For most people, using Tor Browser is as simple as downloading and running it, the same way you would download Chrome or Firefox.

If you’ve never used Tor before, the first thing you’ll notice is that it’s slow, or at least slower than normal Internet browsing. Still, Tor has gotten quite a bit faster over the years, and with a good internet connection, you can even watch YouTube videos through Tor.

Tor Browser gives you access to .onion websites that are only available within the Tor network. For example, try accessing the ElBonario blog at http://binario5yvaed5ie.onion/ or Facebook at https://www.facebookcorewwwi.onion using a normal web browser…. It didn’t work, did it? You can only access these sites through Tor.

This makes it possible to read the news anonymously, a desirable feature in a country where you don’t want the government to know which news sites you’re reading when you’re reading them, and for how long.

Using Tor Browser comes with a major annoyance: Many prominent web services block access to Tor, often without helpful error messages. If a site you normally visit suddenly returns a 404 when you visit via Tor, the service is likely blocking Tor traffic and being unnecessarily opaque about it.

Sites that don’t block Tor can push you to click on a ton of captchas. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s annoying.

How does Tor Browser work?

Tor Browser routes all web traffic through the Tor network, anonymizing it. This consists of a three-layer proxy, like the layers of an onion (hence the onion logo). Tor randomly connects to one of the publicly listed entry nodes, bounces that traffic through a randomly selected intermediate relay, and finally spits the traffic out through the third and final exit node.

As a result, don’t be surprised if Google or another service greets you in a foreign language. These services look at your IP address and estimate your country and language. But, when you use Tor, you will often appear to be in a physical location on the other side of the world.

If you live in a regime that blocks Tor or need to access a web service that blocks Tor, you can also configure Tor Browser to use bridges. Unlike Tor entry and exit nodes, bridge IP addresses are not publicly listed, making it difficult for web services or governments to blacklist those IP addresses.

The Tor network routes TCP traffic of all kinds, but it is optimized for web browsing. Tor doesn’t support UDP, so don’t try to download free software ISO files, it won’t work.

Is the Tor Network legal?

For most people reading this article, Tor Browser is completely legal to use. In some countries, however, Tor is illegal or blocked by national authorities.

China has banned the anonymity service and blocked Tor traffic from crossing the Great Firewall. Countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran are working hard to prevent citizens from using Tor. More recently, Venezuela has blocked all Tor traffic.

It’s easy to see why a repressive regime hates Tor and the entire Deep Web. The service makes it easier for journalists to report on corruption and helps dissidents organize against political repression.

The freedom to communicate, publish and read anonymously is a prerequisite for freedom of expression online, and therefore a prerequisite for today’s democracy. The use and support of Tor help support freedom of expression around the world. Technically sophisticated users are encouraged to donate bandwidth to the Tor network by running a relay.