There are many ways that the internet can track us. The Tor browser is meant to be the answer to that, but what exactly is the Tor browser? How does it work? Does it let you stay safe on the internet? Or is the whole story not being told?
Explaining the Tor Browser
Right now, if you have no security measures in place, the traffic you are sending and receiving can be easily accessed by the right people.
What Tor does is that it takes your traffic, and instead of sending it to where it’s meant to go right away, instead reroutes it though servers based all over the world.
Tor = The Onion Router.
The difference between Tor and a VPN is that while a VPN encrypts your connection, Tor offers many layers of encryption on top of each other, which is why it’s called what it’s called.
What makes it so secure is that each time traffic is passed on to a different node (server), there’s only enough information decrypted to guide the traffic to the next node without revealing any information about it.
Is the Tor Browser Legal to Use?
This level of security that Tor brings might make Tor look like it would be used for illegal purposes. And in fact, many people do use it for that reason, but downloading and using Tor by itself is not illegal.
Tor does enable the use of the dark web, which also in itself is not illegal, but a lot of things on the dark web are illegal.
If you wanted to use the Tor browser merely for safety purposes, don’t worry. It’s not illegal.
In fact, it’s widely used in countries with censorship as well as by journalists that might be in danger.
Does Tor Let You Stay Safe on the Internet?
Yes, but there’s a lot of “but” in that.
Tor is a great tool that makes safety on the internet far easier. But it’s not going to guarantee your safety if you don’t help yourself with that.
Most of the time, people get caught on Tor is due to their own mistakes.
Little mistakes you make while using Tor can be used to find you. All it takes is for one piece of data to match with another.
The three biggest mistakes?
- Using Tor inconsistently.
- Giving away information that is unique to you.
- Using the same devices and software.
A very common cause of people getting caught when using Tor is that they didn’t use Tor once or twice, which created data that was used to find someone.
Giving away personal information is also a big factor that can indirectly link to exposing you. The LulzSec case is a great example of that.
How Using the Same Devices Is an Issue When Using Tor
See this picture?
Google Chrome is less distinguishable…
Why? As how many people use Tor? Right?
Tor? It eliminates the amount of data that’s trackable compared to standard browsers, but it does it at the cost of functionality.
Sites you access will be able to detect that you use Tor, and while you won’t be identified, they just won’t work, and even if they do partly work, most will lose functionality due to browser fingerprinting blocks which kill site functionality.
But there is a way to eliminate that factor to make yourself protected while using the Tor browser, without sacrificing on the functionality of the sites you need to use.
With the help of Kameleo.
Kameleo is a tool that’s used to change the parameters of your device. A website can think you rock a macOS computer with Safari. Meanwhile, you can be rocking Tor on a Windows 10 device.
By using it, you can make sure that you aren’t identifiable by browser fingerprinting, which this essentially is.
If you would like to learn more about it, we have an entire page dedicated to helping you understand it. But to explain briefly, Kameleo spoofs trackers that would otherwise tell you are using Tor. It also spoofs the likes of Canvas fingerprinting instead of blocking it, which results in sites working as they would on any other browser, while you stay safe.