Websites on the internet collect user data, like IP address, browsing habits, search history, etc. They also use this data for better-targeted advertising or to improve their sales funnels. This is where the Tor browser value shows.
Tor is an internet browser, that allows its user to surf the web anonymously.
When trying to connect to the internet via the usual internet connection, you access the desired website directly. Then the website and any other possible bad actors can see who you are and the IP address you are using to connect to the said website.
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How Does The Tor Browser Work?
The Tor network, on the other hand, doesn’t connect to websites directly, instead, it is made up of numerous servers (also known as nodes), that pass your information along using levels of encryption – thus the onion metaphor.
Every node that your information goes through encrypts another level of encryption. Node only knows the IP address of the previous node as well as where it should send information to.
The final node that your information passes through will peel off the final level of encryption and give your data to the website that you are trying to connect to. This node is also called an exit node. The user and nodes in between are completely unknown.
But nothing is perfect, and while onion routing makes it harder for hackers and spies to track your activities, it doesn’t make it impossible.
Top 10 Tips To Use Tor Browser Safely:
1) Increase your security
Tor browser is a great tool to protect your anonymity, but it can’t do much if you aren’t aware of the security measures that should be taken. The first tip on how to use tor browser safely is that you must increase your security. There are many reasons why it is essential to use a virtual private network (VPN). In simple words, a VPN hides all your activity from anyone trying to spy on you.
2) Don’t use Tor for longer than needed
In most cases, browsing the internet with regular browsers is already secure enough. If this is not the case, you can always use a VPN or a trusted proxy service instead of going through Tor. They have their pros and cons, but they are mostly more reliable. Just keep in mind that not all proxy services protect you from ISP tracking or bandwidth monitoring. Make sure to check these before signing up for one!
3) Expand privacy options in Tor
Tor Browser can be customized to your needs. If you don’t want people who control your Tor network’s entry node (other Tor users) to see that you are using their services, make sure to change the ‘circuit display’ settings via onion Circuits. This will make you anonymous even if somebody sees what sites you visit.
4) Don’t use public WIFI hotspots
Public WIFI hotspots are extremely insecure and can be hacked with ease by malicious users or malware. Make sure to shut down Tor before entering these networks; otherwise, adversaries might collect valuable information about your identity and location just by spying on the traffic in these networks. For most cases, this isn’t necessary anyway because browsing through Tor is already secure enough.
5) Don’t use Tor browser on the same device you store valuable personal data
It is possible to store sensitive files in your Tor browser, but make sure to do this on different devices that don’t contain important logins or passwords. If somebody hacks into your computer after you use it for banking or other financial transactions, they can easily steal all of your personal information by accessing these files.
6) Don’t access anonymization services via the Tor browser
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use anonymization services at all, but if you are using them solely with the help of Tor, there might be unintended side effects. These include being blocked from accessing some sites when using services like proxies and VPNs or being identified as a Tor user.
7) Be careful when sharing information over Tor browser
The special thing about the anonymity of the internet is that you don’t have to share your identity with strangers, but this also means you cannot get any information from these strangers either. Suppose somebody asks for more information than needed. In that case, it might very well be that they want to collect enough data on your location or behavior patterns from stealing money or other valuables.
8) Stay clear of illegal activities via anonymization services
All sorts of people use Tor, some have good intentions, and others have bad ones. This doesn’t mean that everybody who uses Tor wants to do bad things, but criminals can use anonymization services to hide their identities and/or whereabouts. So, make sure you don’t get caught up in illegal activities when using Tor or its add-ons.
9) Don’t open unofficial websites via Tor browser
Tor brings you from A to B without any problems. Still, it can’t protect your computer from viruses and other malware when an unofficial website tries to download malicious content onto your machine. Make sure to never open unknown links, especially if they are sent by messaging services like email or chat apps.
10)Delete browsing history
The second tip on using tor browser safely is that you must delete your browsing history after each session. This is important because if someone else has access to your computer, they will see what websites you visited.
I’m a writer, artist, and designer working in the gaming and tech industries. I have held staff and freelance positions at large publications including Digital Trends, Lifehacker, Popular Science Magazine, Electronic Gaming Monthly, IGN, The Xplore Tech, and others, primarily covering gaming criticism, A/V and mobile tech reviews, and data security advocacy.