What is Tor ?
‘The Onion Router’, commonly known as Tor, is a browser with a difference. Tor is a free and open source network browser that runs on all popular computing platforms such as Windows, Mac, Linux and Android devices. It prevents and protects against network tracking and surveillance as well as traffic analysis. Simply put, Tor is the easiest way to browse the web discreetly and with anonymity. It is the world’s most popular web anonymity tool with several million users as of 2016.
How Does Tor Work ?
The Tor browser works by moving your internet traffic between different worldwide Tor servers known as T-nodes. T-nodes provide Tor with millions of distributed worldwide proxies that use many different IP addresses to enhance web anonymity. Tor also encrypts your traffic, thus barring the possibilities of your activities being monitored. This is known as anonymous browsing, and Tor goes as far as hiding your country of origin and information from any website applications too. Furthermore, when you use Tor, websites that would normally be barred to you can be by-passed and therefore accessed. For example, you may work in an organisation where prohibited web sites have been barred and cannot be visited. Barring is often achieved by banning specific IP addresses, but by using T-nodes Tor is able to neatly bypass this.
‘Traditional’ browsers such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox feature “incognito” modes that allow private browsing, but the privacy these modes provide is basic. Tor’s onion routing system provides almost unlimited anonymity.
- Identity Protection
Many web sites will record a visitor’s IP address and their search queries. This will be combined with other information gathered as you interact with the site to build an online profile of your likes / dislikes as well as your online browsing habits. This information is then be used to target you with specific items as well as sold to third parties. Tor prevents this information being linked to you.
- Access to the Deep Dark Web
Due to it’s anonymising features, Tor is the browser of choice when accessing the Deep Web. (The Deep Web refers to sites and links that are not indexed by search engines and therefore do not appear in search results. The Dark Web is a subset of the Deep Web and refers to sites of ‘questionable legality and content’.)
Due to the complex way Tor routes traffic to protect anonymity, it is significantly slower that other browsers. This problem is exacerbated by more and more people beginning to use Tor and crowding the network. Filesharing across Tor also slows the network down considerably.
> You can find out more information about Tor and download it from the Tor Project at https://www.torproject.org/