Tor is a software that’s getting attention lately due to growing concerns over privacy. What used to be a fundamental right is now being taken away in exchange for short-lived entertainment. Whether it’s social media, apps, or just internet in general, user-privacy is becoming a receding factor when deploying new technologies.
If you want to learn more about Tor, how it differs from a VPN, and how the two of them can work in tandem to provide a more sophisticated approach enhance privacy, then you’ve come to the right place.
What is Tor?
Before we dive into what Tor is, it’s better to give you a history of how it began.
Tor works on the principle of Onion Routing. It’s a method of routing that involves sending data through multiple nodes. The idea is that sending data across a decentralized network where each node is connected only to the next in the network can provide a higher level of privacy than just encrypting data.
Onion Routing was developed sometime in the mid-90s by the U.S Naval Research Lab (NRL). Onion routing was later picked up by an MIT graduate who began to implement the framework in a project which has come to be known as project Tor (The Onion Routing).
The Tor network includes dozens of nodes around the world that relay traffic to another node in the network until it reaches the destination. It involves an Entry Node, Middle Node, and Exit Node.
How does Tor Work?
Project Tor has set up a network around the world, which are just users participating in the network and working as nodes.
When you establish a connection to TOR and send a request, your data is encrypted and sent to the first node; let’s call it Node A. The Node A then picks up the package and delivers it to Node B. Node B then sends it to Node C. Remember that your data in encrypted each step of the way, so neither of the nodes can read what’s encrypted, except the Exit Node.
The Exit Node does it because it needs to know the destination. But don’t worry, it does not know the IP of the originator, which is you. Similarly, Node A knows your IP since it directly interacts with you, but can’t read what’s in the received in the encrypted package.
It should give you an idea of how Tor works and how it’s being used for privacy and evading government censorship. The drawback to Tor is slow performance. It takes longer to reach data back-and-forth; hence, you will experience slower-than-normal browsing speeds.
How is Tor Different from Proxy?
If you’ve ever used a proxy server then you know it allows you to access blocked websites. A proxy server handles your internet request by masking its IP over yours before proceeding to send it to the designated location.
But there’s a fundamental privacy issue in using proxy servers. It does not use encryption to secure your data, and it has the power to see and log your activities. Proxy servers are free to use, but they come at the cost of your privacy.
Tor works on a similar approach but involves more than one entity. It forms a network that relays a request from one node to the next by keeping the previous node uninformed about either the content of the package or the IP address of the originator.
Is it Safe to Use Tor?
Tor is completely safe to use. Tor is built on transparency. It’s open-source software that is accessible to everyone. What that means is that anyone can pick up Tor’s code and use it. It also grants them access to the inner workings of the software.
It instills confidence in the community because the public can scrutinize the underlying tech.
Is Tor Free?
Tor is free to download and use. Download the Tor browser from the link here and install it. The Tor browser is based on a modified version of Mozilla Firefox, so it’ll feel familiar to some users.
How to Use Tor?
Using Tor is very easy. Visit the link here to download the Tor browser which will let you use the Tor network and browse the internet anonymously. Here’s a step-by-step guide for Windows:
- Download Tor browser
- Run the .exe file
- Select your preferred language
- Select a location to install
- Once installed, run the browser
- Click on Connect
You can now start browsing your favorite websites, anonymously. Firefox users will be greeted with a familiar interface.
Should You Use VPN on Tor
You may ask yourself, why do you need a VPN if Tor is already making you anonymous? To answer that question, let us go back to our Node A, B, and C example.
Although the transmitted package is encrypted, Node A can recognize your IP address. It’s a small vulnerability, but it’s there. A VPN lets you mask your actual IP address with one lent you by the VPN provider. It makes you anonymous on the internet as the VPN service conceals your real geographic location.
If you were to use a VPN with Tor, it would conceal your identity throughout; from Node A to Node C.
But to put things into perspective, it brings us back again to the problem. Because a VPN server handles your internet requests, your privacy is at the mercy of the VPN provider. FastestVPN follows a strict ‘no-logs’ policy, which ensures your activities are in safe hands. Browse any content, visit any website, FastestVPN will never record what you do on the internet.
Tor works without any issues while running FastestVPN. Here’s how to use Tor on VPN:
- Subscribe to FastestVPN
- Download and install FastestVPN on your device
- Launch FastestVPN
- Connect to your desired VPN server
- Launch Tor Browser and click on Connect
You are now ready to browse the internet with Tor with the added layer protection of FastestVPN.
Conclusion – How to Use VPN on Tor
The growing concerns over privacy have been a blessing in disguise. The last decade or so has made privacy a trending debate among users. People are now finally realizing the importance of user-piracy; they are now more aware of what they share on the internet.
The difference between a free VPN and a paid VPN like FastestVPN is becoming more transparent to the average user. If you intend on using Tor, let FastestVPN maximize your privacy.