Under the Web

Some interesting things in life and internet

Online anonymity – Using TOR networks

Posted by Jackie R. on December 27, 2006

Do you know that when you surf a particular website , sensitive information like your IP address, your location, type of operating system used, type of browser used, duration of stay and others may be recorded by the webmaster? Through the use of scripts or third party web stats monitoring service, cyber activities of yours can be easily tracked and monitored.

If you are concerned about this issue, let me recommend to you a network called TOR that will ease such worries from your mind. I do not know what TOR stands for but it is able to help you remain anonymous for your web browsing and publishing, instant messaging, IRC, SSH, and other applications that use the TCP protocol.

It is basically a worldwide distributed network of computers operated mostly by private individuals (some .edus and non-profit orgs also do so). But because no one person/company own/ have access to the entire network – a common pitfall of so-called “anonymous proxies” – they cannot store all details about you – even if they want to.

TOR will continually hops and cycles through thousands of IP addresses in its network before exiting your data stream through hundreds possible exit nodes. So unless you’re being watched and timed at both entry and exit nodes, no one knows where you came from nor where you’re going.

If you want to try out TOR, go to http://tor.eff.org/index.html.en  and download TOR. You may want to download the pack that contains Vidalia (a software the controls and monitors TOR sessions) , TOR and Privoxy (a filter add-on). Once you’ve got it running go to http://cmyip.com/ to verify that your IP is indeed masked.

I would also recommend that you use Firefox browser from http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/ because there is a Firefox add-on that allows you to enable or disable TOR sessions from Firefox.

The disadvantage of TOR now is that it may be slow sometime. Remember those nodes in the network are all individual’s personal computers donated to add to the network bandwidth, so if more TOR users donate their bandwidth, the faster the network will be but it will not slow down their connection speed, just that you require to set the computer as a server and that maybe require some learning which not everyone will be keen to delve into.

In conclusion, use TOR if you are worried about your online information being exposed and picked up by someone in the process. Remember, everyone deserves some security and privacy when using Internet. The tradeoff, of course, will be some slow down in surfing speed.

Happy TORing. 🙂


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