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Tor- A Gateway to Anonymity

What is Tor Project?

Tor is an internet communication method for complete online anonymity and the similar term “TOR” is used to refer to the anonymity network as well as the open-source software that supports it. The name is derived from the onion router- the name of a pioneering privacy project run by the US Naval Research Lab. The Tor project became a nonprofit organization in 2006 but the idea of anonymous or onion routing began in the mid-1990s. Computer scientists – Roger Dingledine, Nick Mathewson, and five others started tor project.

Onion routing is a method for anonymous communication over the internet. It hides the names of parties that are communicating as well as the data by encrypting the payload in layers.

Just like Tor users, the developers, researchers, and founders who made the Tor project success are a diverse group of people. But all of these people involved in the project are united by a common belief: Internet users should have private access to an uncensored web.

How does it work?

Tor browsers route all the traffic through the Tor network anonymizing it, it directs the network traffic through a network of thousand tunnel-like structures where data is encrypted and transferred to the destination without any hindrance.

Tor consists of a total of three-layer proxy. It connects at random to one of the publicly available entry nodes, bounces that traffic through a randomly selected middle relay, and final spits out your traffic through exit nodes.

As a result, don’t be surprised if Google or other services greet you in a foreign tongue. These services look at your IP address and guesstimate your country and language because when using tor you will often appear to be in a physical location hallway around the world.

Also, if you live in a regime or country that blocks Tor, you can configure your Tor browser to use bridges. Like Tor’s entry and exit node, bridge IP addresses are not publicly listed making it difficult for web services, or governments to blacklist those IP addresses.

Tor network routes TCP traffic of all kinds but is optimized for web browsing. It does not support UDP considering the security and privacy of the users.

Is Tor browser legal?

The biggest question that remains is, IS TOR BROWSER LEGAL? So, to answer it for one and all. Yes, the Tor browser is completely legal to use. There are some countries where the Tor network or the .onion sites are completely blocked by National authorities. China has outlawed the anonymity service and blocks Tor traffic from crossing the Great Firewall. Countries such as Russia, Saudi Arabia are working hard to prevent its citizen from using Tor. Wherever in India, it is completely legal to use the Tor browser.

It’s easy why the repressive regime hates Tor. It makes it easier for journalists, activists to report on corruption and helps dissidents organize against political repression.

Who Uses Tor?

Most people see Tor as a platform of illegal activities – such as online access to drug markets and many other illicit activities – many other users access Tor network.

These include

  1. Journalists
  2. Activists
  3. The US military
  4. Law enforcement
  5. Anyone who does not want his online activities to be tracked

How to get on the Dark Web?

Let’s get this Dark Web discussion out of the way once and for all. There is no denying of fact that some criminals do use Tor to commit crimes like drug marketing, arms dealing and many more criminals also use the clear net to commit crimes. Bank robbers use getaway cars on public highways to commit crimes. This doesn’t mean that we will slander highways or the internet because that would be foolish.

So when you hear someone talking about the Dark Web or Deep Web understand that a lot is going on than just “The four horsemen of the apocalypse” are using computers in non-informative ways. As a matter of fact, Tor has tons of legitimate users and is made for the people who prioritize their privacy, because criminals willing to break the law can achieve better anonymity than Tor actually provides through various proxies and VPNs.

Does Tor really provide anonymity?

Tor Browser offers one of the best anonymous web browsings today, but that anonymity is not perfect. We are currently witnessing a silent war between researchers and developers seeking to strengthen Tor or even developing a next-generation anonymity tool and governments around the world studying how to break tor’s anonymity properties.

The most successful technique to de-anonymize Tor users is to hack them. The FBI has used this technique successfully in numerous criminal cases, and under Rule 41, enacted in 2016 by US Chief Justice Roberts of the Supreme Court, the FBI can now mass hack large numbers of computers anywhere in the world using a single warrant.

Tor Browser is an essential tool that will only improve with time. If you don’t care about your privacy? Well, Edward Snowden said it best:

“Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”

Tor is more than just software. It is a labor of love produced by an international community of people devoted to human rights. The Tor Project is deeply committed to transparency and the safety of its users.

References

  1. https://portswigger.net/daily-swig/tor-security-everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-anonymity-network
  2. https://www.torproject.org/about/history/
  3. https://www.csoonline.com/article/3062904/supreme-court-approves-rule-change-that-expands-fbi-computer-search-powers.html

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