Posted 23/Dec 2010 at 21:34
by in Science & Tech read by 88 people

Tor - Anonymity online

I am not paranoid. But what if what happened to Mr. Assange (founder of Wikileaks) could happen to all of us? I am living in the Netherlands and we are the leading nation when it comes to monitoring phone calls, emails and internet traffic analyses. That is why today I installed Tor. To protect my privacy. 

Why did I install Tor?

Because I think that privacy matters a lot! And I do not like being watched. Of course I have nothing to hide (if I had I would not publish this likealot Smile). But that does not mean that I agree with this extensive analyses governments make about my digital whereabouts. You should worry too!

What Tor does

I quote from their website "Tor protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world. It prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location."

What is Tor?

Take a look at the picture that comes with this Likealot to see how Tor works. It is basically a network of virtual tunnels. Tor builds a circuit of encrypted connection though relays on the internet. The circuit is extended one node at a time. No individual relay will ever know the complete path htat a data packet has taken. The client negotiates a separate set of encryption keys for each node. One a circuit has been established, data can be safely exchanged between applications such as a web browser and a web server. Now how cool is that!

How to install Tor?

You can download different kinds of software bundles on www.torproject.org. I installed the Tor Browser Bundle. Just downloaded it and ran it. First Vidalia establishes a connection to the Tor network. After that it launches Firefox with all safety setting switched on. Now we are good to go for some anonymous browsing.

Does it really work?

The answer to this question is: yes it does! I did several tests and I am known with many identities on the internet now. When writing this article I am known as: '192.251.226.205' (certainly not my IP address); hostname: anonymizer.blutmagie.de (like it!); screen resolution: 1000x900 (if would ever use a screen that small!); user agent 'Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 6.1; en-US; rv:1.9.2.3) Gecko/20100401 Firefox/3.6.3'. And that is not me at all! Me a Windows user?

Are there any drawbacks?

At least there is one: browsing is slow.... It is not the fastest way to browse the internet. But it is a prize I am willing to pay. Another drawback is that you must not rely to much on Tor. So in Firefox: switch off the acceptance of cookies, caching of files and tick 'always start in privacy mode' somewhere in the settings. And take a look at your your Flash settings. The Flash cookies are nasty little privacy monsters! Oh, and do not leave your real name and number on all that sites that request your data for a single once in a lifetime download.

Next steps

My next steps: first I will evaluate Tor by testing it some more. Second I will take a look at some proxy tools that modify http headers and stuff like that. But I think I have taken an important first step now.

Am I safe now?

To be honost: not quite, I think! So please do not follow me on Twitter and please do not visit  my Facebook page Cool! Oh, and do not read my likealots too.

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