The TOR browser bundle

The TOR browser bundle seems like a reasonably effective and very easy-to-use means of circumventing web censorship and surveillance.

The speed of web browsing falls significantly when data is routed through the TOR network, but tools like this are increasingly essential as governments undertake more and more inappropriate meddling with the free flow of ideas online.

There are versions for various operating systems. I have tried both the Windows and Mac OS installs and they are both easy to use and at least a bit effective in avoiding tracking and censorship. Remember, however, that TOR is useless if someone is tracking all your web traffic at your point of connection to the internet, for instance by reading all the traffic through your broadband connection or cell phone. If you are worried about that, use public networks along with TOR, or set up an encrypted connection to a proxy or virtual private network and then run TOR from there.

Remember, all security bets are of if an attacker gets malware on your machine or gains physical access to it.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

12 thoughts on “The TOR browser bundle”

  1. TOR is good for protecting you from certain risks – like the risk that Twitter or GMail will give your personal information to a hostile government. If you are a pro-democracy activist in China, you should use TOR among other precautions.

    You can’t trust internet companies to keep your data safe from governments.

  2. Another useful tool (for penetration testing / intrusion detection):

    Eavesdrop is an application for listening in on TCP conversations on the network your computer is attached to.

  3. Using Tor: Assume Exit Nodes are Monitored

    Ars Technica is reporting that a security specialist was able to grab a bunch of login/passwords after running Tor nodes to illustrate proper and improper use of the widely-used anonymity network. In this particular case, Dan Egerstad volunteered to be part of the Tor network by running “exit nodes,” and boy did he grab a bunch of sensitive logins and passwords.

    Particularly embarrassing is the fact the list contained use by embassy staff of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Iran and India among others. There seems to be no other explanation other than the IT departments of these governments actually recommending Tor as standard operating procedure to access their accounts from abroad.

  4. Anything you do using TOR might just get EXTRA ATTENTION from the spooks. It could serve indirectly as a means for them to concentrate interesting traffic. People use TOR for more interesting activities than they use their own networks for.

  5. Silk Road used the Tor Network, but nothing about the bust suggests Tor has been broken. Tor protects internet users’ identities by shuffling traffic among many servers in a high-tech shell game. It is used by activists and journalists and drug dealers who want to remain hidden online. Even the NSA can’t break the technology, though they’ve tried, according to new documents revealed by the Guardian.

    Silk Road used Tor’s Hidden Services feature, which lets operators host their sites without revealing their ip addresses. Only other Tor users can visit Tor Hidden Services, which all use the odd .onion domain. The collected .onion sites form the Dark Net. (Or Deep Web, or Deep Net, there are a lot of names.) Anyone can visit the Dark Net by installing the Tor Browser bundle, which takes about five minutes.

  6. Apparently, people attack the TOR network by trying to establish large numbers of exit nodes:

    Tor Project statement on today’s attack.

    This looks like a regular attempt at a Sybil attack: the attackers have signed up
    many new relays in hopes of becoming a large fraction of the network.
    But even though they are running thousands of new relays, their relays
    currently make up less than 1% of the Tor network by capacity. We are
    working now to remove these relays from the network before they become
    a threat, and we don’t expect any anonymity or performance effects based
    on what we’ve seen so far.

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