The Tor Browser is a web browser that masks your IP address to protect your identity and to help you anonymize your work internet activity, it also lets you access the Dark web. If you’re researching about an opposing litigant in a legal dispute, or dealing with a creepy website and don’t want your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and the government to know which website portal you made steps on, then Tor Browser will come in handy for your preferred task.
Here we discuss how does Tor browser work and how to set up Tor browser on your system or a smartphone.
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How does the Tor browser work?
Tor Browser works on the Tor network system, which is run by volunteer nodes and provides an environment to use the internet anonymously. Tor network works -layer by layer- and hence is the name “The Onion Routing”.
The data flow is encrypted multiple times, by rerouting it through the relays, within the entire network. The system consists of 3 or more of these relays/ nodes:
(I) The Guard node: it’s a point of entry into the Tor network. Whenever a user wants to access any website and enters a URL, the Guard node converts it into encrypted form.
(II) Relay node: These nodes are also known as the middle nodes, it sits in the middle between a Tor Guard node and a Tor exit node. Relay nodes can only access the data and address location of the Guard node and do not have any access to the IP address of the client.
(III) Exit node: Data access is then transferred to the Exit node, the Exit Node, however, does not have any clue about the address location of the client, so the client can’t be traced back, and the Exit node will make the website accessible through it’s IP address.
Tor Browser is based on Firefox, which means that you can still visit all the common sites from the surface web, such as the one you’re currently visiting. And you can even install addon plugins to the browser and use it as a normal internet browser.
However, unlike other browsers, Tor can also access the “.onion” sites found on the dark web. You now must be wondering, what the Dark web is, and how it is different from the internet we’re used to.
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What is Dark Web?
The internet is primarily divided into 3 parts :
Surface Web includes websites that are easily searchable and accessible through search engines. You’ll be surprised to know that the surface web covers only 5% of the World Wide Web.
Deep Web, on the other hand, has an entry barrier. The Deep web requires User credentials such as Id and password to be able to access the data from it, The data on the deep web is not searchable. And this web is not indexed on Google search.
The Dark Web is where the “.onion” sites reside, and it can be only accessed through the Tor browser. There’s a misconception though, that people use the Dark web to perform illegal activities only, and that is not correct.
Now comes the question of, whether or not these Tor networks make your internet activities completely anonymous. Well, yes. The Tor network does help you surf the web unspecified, there’s a catch though. The ISPs (Internet service providers) can still keep track of how long you were active on the Tor browser. The accessed websites and user data wouldn’t be tracked by the ISP, so that can rest assured.
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How to install Tor Browser on your system?
The Tor browser is available for multiple devices including Windows, macOS, Linux and Android. You can get your hands on the Tor Browser, through the Official Tor Project Website. Here is a step-by-step guide to set up Tor browser on your system.
- Firstly, Navigate to the Tor Browser download page.
- Now select your operating system of choice by clicking any of the four logos shown. It is currently available for macOS, Windows, Android, and Linux. The download is in English language by default, however, there’s an option as well to download Tor Browser in your native language or a specified version from here.
- Click on the Download button to get the .exe/.dmg /.xz file on your Windows /Mac/ Linux. The Android application is downloadable from the Google Play Store. But if you want it on your iOS device, Onion Browser is the way to go and can be downloaded from App Store as well.
- Once you’re done downloading, navigate to your downloads folder and double-click the .exe file. Opening this file will start the installation process. Choose your preferred language, then press “OK.”
- You’ll be redirected to the Setup process, where you can choose the destination for installation from the dropdown menu. You can simply just drag and drop the browser icon into the application folder if you’re on macOS.
- While visiting the browser for the very first time, You’ll be prompted to Connect to Tor. in most cases, you’ll be ready to go, after hitting the “Connect” button.
However, if you’re accessing Tor from countries like China, and Egypt you might require to configure it through Tor network settings. Other than that, you’ll be ready to access anything that the world wide web can offer.
In a nutshell, the Tor network is the best bet for doing any anonymous activity on the internet but comes with a compromise resulting in a reduction in connection speeds. Also, the Tor Browser can not be used for streaming services yet and is the way to go otherwise. But this is the best tool to keep your identity anonymous on the internet. And this is the gateway to the realms of the Dark web.
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