Tor: anonymity and privacy

Tor (the onion ring) is an interesting free solution to protect your privacy when browsing the web.
Tor is not only a piece of free software (recommended by the Electronic Frontier Foundation) but also a distributed network that bounces your communication around many peers. The communications between these peers are encrypted and every few minutes, the peers used in your network paths, are changed.
You can easily use Tor as a proxy for your browser to surf anonymously the Net (but it works also with a lot of other applications). The price to pay is the speed: it depends mostly on how many peers are near to you, but you will notice a huge slowdown.
When there will be enough Tor nodes or relays, the average speed and security level will be raised. Unfortunately people are often scared of operating as a Tor relay due to potential abuse issues. But you can setup Tor as an exit enclave only, if you want to support actively the project (after having played a bit as a user).
There are also hidden services like search engines. For example DuckDuckGo is a search engine that operates as a Tor exit enclave. Using both Tor and DDG you can be end to end anonymous with your searching. Try DDG hidden service at http://3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion.
Don’t be so foolish to trust this software as the safest solution to your anonymity and privacy, there had been attacks to its network and even its creators don’t call it a “strong anonymity service”. Also don’t forget that today a browser has many plugins (just think about video or audio codecs) that could send data outside the Tor network and reveal what you are doing.
In truth, to use Tor properly, I would suggest a stripped down version of any browser you like, FireFox for example, with no plugins or add-ons of any kind (except those used to protect the execution of scripts and manage your cookies).
Give it a go!

This entry was posted on Monday, October 25th, 2010 at 7:38 PM and is filed under internet, privacy.

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