Anonymity on the Internet: The TOR Browser

Anonymity is not only more popular now more than ever; but also more necessary. Nothing that anybody does over the internet goes unnoticed. Everything you do is definitely logged, and possibly monitored. Every website you visit; every e-mail you send/receive; every picture you view/download; every video you watch; in fact every move you make over the internet is logged by your Internet Service Provider(ISP) and you are identified by your IP address.

Not only are you tracked and/or monitored by your IP, you can also be hacked through it – keystrokes; remote control being taken; loss of complete shutdown; malicious software; files of all sorts stolen, are some of the goals of the malicious attacker.

We are in trying times in the US. Various government agencies, particularly the NSA, have virtually complete access to your every move via various projects such as PRISM.

Its no wonder more and more people are using technologies to circumvent all this surveillance. One well-known practice, and a quite functional one, that people use to remain anonymous over the internet is to employ The Onion Router (TOR).

TOR is both the browser you use, (a modified version of Firefox; the TOR Browser), and the TOR network. In simplest terms, TOR will encrypt the data from its browser, and rout that encryption through several other designated computers on the TOR network (nodes). Each node on the TOR network acts as another ‘layer’ of anonymity for you. Essentially your encrypted browsing is sent from the TOR Browser to a  TOR entry point; relayed across a series of nodes, until it leaves the TOR network at an exit point; and is finally released in a non-encrypted state to the endpoint server you were surfing to. You can see how this is a very desirable method indeed  if you wish to use the internet anonymously. It’s easy to understand how TOR is being used by more and more people every day.

Keep in mind that TOR does have limitations, and you should without doubt read through all the material at the TOR official website, where you can also download the TOR Browser Bundle as well. One limitation being that considering the data at the exit node is not encrypted, anyone running that particular node, (hacker, government agency etc.), can see your traffic. Considering that anybody can act as a TOR exit node, thay ‘anybody’ could be surveilling you.

I personally use TOR when I want to remain anonymous over the internet. However, keep in mind anonymity is not the same as privacy; confuse the two to your own demise! My next post will explain how I remain private when surfing the internet.


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