TOR or The Onion Router has long been one of the major ways you can anonymize your online activity and stay safe. Ever since its inception, TOR has regularly been included in the list of must-have software for anyone concerned about online privacy and anonymity. Despite being subject to intense scrutiny by NSA security experts and many other agencies, TOR has remained relevant to the international online anonymity community, thanks to the host of developers and programmers working on it every day. Another reason why TOR has sustained its popularity is that more and more people are becoming part of the TOR community and are participating in providing relays for others through the network. TOR isn’t completely break-proof, but it will take a lot of following from one node to another to find the origin and the source of one connection.
Let’s differentiate all the Tor facts from fiction.
TOR Is Used By Criminals
This is one of the first things that you should know about TOR. Though many people use TOR to access the dark web, the number of people who actually make use of TOR for nefarious activities is very small. There are two reasons for this. First, most professional criminals already have much more sophisticated software to use for their criminal activities. Second, TOR already has safeguards to prevent it from being used by criminals.
The truth is that TOR is used by a very large number of people including journalists, activists, and military personnel etc. These people use TOR for different reasons, all of which include protecting themselves and their privacy. If you are someone who does an illegal online activity (we hope you don’t!), using TOR can compromise your security and identify you to the authorities. For regular users who want great security, TOR is a good choice.
TOR Is Difficult to Use
A lot of people who first hear about anonymizing software imagine long lines of codes and algorithms and a host of other things that they can’t understand. But as any experienced TOR user will tell you, it can be used by anyone who has a basic knowledge of how browsers work.
Of course, there are several features that you can use to further anonymize yourself and participate in the TOR network. But if you want to use TOR for basic net surfing via anonymous channels, all you need is the browser installed and you are good to go.
TOR Is Super Slow
The idea that you are being routed through multiple relays might make you think that your internet speed will be hampered. While this was true before and still is to a certain degree, TOR has come a long way from being what it was at the time of its initial launch. A very large and internationally visible (or invisible) community of developers and programmers are constantly working to make TOR faster and more effective and we regularly see updates that increase TOR’s speed significantly.
Another thing to understand in this regard is that when you find your TOR slowing down, you can simply choose a faster router and enjoy better speeds. Also, since TOR relays are present all over the world, you can use any router to get the job done. Normally, the closer a router is to your actual location, the better speeds you will be able to enjoy. For casual users, there will be no need to select a distant server and thus, they will be able to enjoy almost as good a speed as they would through non-anonymous channels.
TOR Is Complete Anonymous
Despite its many assets, TOR is not completely anonymous. In fact, you will need to understand at least the basics of how its anonymity system work in order to truly use it to good effect. Also, if you regularly use TOR, you must keep up with the regular updates made to it in order to maintain your anonymous status. New methods of circumventing encryption and breaching protocols come up every day. To counter this, TOR frequently updates its protocols and ensures optimum anonymity for users. Make sure you stay updated with the latest trends.
Another important factor here is that when you use TOR to access social media, you are still not completely secure in terms of communications. Though Facebook has a separate link for TOR users, it still is able to see the communications that pass through its system. So, as yet, TOR is not the perfect way of staying anonymous on social media. However, it is not likely that you are going to use TOR just to browse such sites, so there is little to worry about.
Using TOR is Not Legal
TOR was and is legal in most parts of the world. Even if you run a relay, there is virtually no chance of you facing legal action for it. However, you might be contacted by legal authorities in case you choose to relay TOR from your devices. Nevertheless, if you are not engaging in any illegal activity, there will be no problems at your end. At the same time, you will receive the satisfaction of giving back to the international TOR community and creating a safer online world for all.
Tor Browser Fact or Fiction – Summary
TOR is a great way for you to remain anonymous and enjoy all that the Internet has to offer. If you live in a country where there are widespread online restrictions, you can use TOR with a good VPN to stay truly anonymous and away from problems. Keep in mind that TOR has already been cracked and it’s not the safest method for anonymity. However, combining it with a VPN gives you good security.
Whatever your reason for using TOR might be, it is certainly a viable option for many and if you are as concerned about your privacy as many people around the world, you should definitely give it a try. While TOR speeds have become better than earlier, keep in mind that there is still a lot left to achieve in terms of connection speeds.
Summer is an established author when it comes to everything tech. She frequently analyses various software and has reviewed many apps in the process. As a technology enthusiast, Summer has worked in many IT-related industries. She follows cybersecurity news closely and published articles related to the latest tech-trends from around the world.