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Tor is safe to use

Tor is safe to use


Tor is a free global network that allows you to browse the Internet and the dark web without revealing your identity. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind to use Tor securely.

As online monitoring becomes more and more common, tools that can help you maintain your privacy and security online are critical. While VPNs are one such tool (see why you should use a VPN), there are other options. Tor (which stands for “The Onion Router”) is a powerful tool for online anonymity.

The Tor client is simply a program that runs on top of your operating system. This means that Tor is as safe and secure as the system running the Tor client. You should update the Tor client, Tor secured applications (browsers, instant messaging clients, email clients, etc.) and your computer’s operating system regularly, or preferably daily. Downloading Tor on your computer is safe and completely legal to do and use. However, keep in mind that you may get extra attention from your ISP if you do this, so it’s a good idea to hide your IP address with a VPN while you’re downloading Tor. Is Tor Browser Safe? Not as much as you might think. Your environment Never use Tor from home or near home. Never work on anything sensitive enough to request Tor from home, even if that’s you. Limit the amount of time you spend using Tor in any single location. While these link attacks take some time. When you go out to perform these. Tor Browser prevents anyone monitoring your connection from knowing what websites you visit. All anyone watching your browsing habits can see is that you’re using Tor. Fingerprint resistance. Tor Browser aims to make all users look the same, making it difficult for you to take fingerprints based on browser and device information.

However, there is no such thing as 100% security, and even Tor has some weaknesses. It’s important to look at its threat model and make sure you understand what Tor can and can’t protect you from. Moreover, if you do not adhere to best practices when using Tor, you may expose yourself to vulnerabilities and exploits that could put your privacy or your device at risk.

This article explains factors to consider before using Tor and what you can do to mitigate its weaknesses.

Is Tor illegal?

This is often the first question users ask because Tor and the “dark web” have become associated with illegal institutions such as the Silk Road Marketplace. The answer is no. It’s not illegal to be anonymous, and Tor has many legitimate uses. The dark web itself is a powerful tool for protecting privacy and freedom of expression.

Tor is an open network of volunteer-run servers and free software (Tor Browser) directed by the non-profit Tor Project. Both the network and software can be used to surf the “clearweb” (the Internet that most of us know) like any other browser. According to the Tor Project, neither the network nor the browser is illegal anywhere in the world, and using Tor is not a criminal act.

Tor . weaknesses

Like any technology, Tor is not 100% secure, and attackers can still compromise Tor’s security. In 2014, a research team from Carnegie Mellon University gained control of enough servers in the Tor network to monitor relays on both ends of a Tor circuit and compare traffic timing, volume, and other unique characteristics to determine which other Tor relays were part of the circuits. By putting the entire circuit together, the researchers were able to see a user’s IP address on the first relay and the final destination of their web traffic on the last relay, which allowed them to match users with their online activity. (For those interested in a more technical explanation, the Tor Project analyzed the attack.) The FBI then used that attack to catch a number of criminals on the dark web as part of Operation Onymous. Tor has upgraded their relays to handle the specific protocol the researchers use, but link attacks (identifying users by the timing and volume of their traffic) are still possible.

Recently, vulnerability vendor Zerodium discovered a new flaw in the Tor browser that allows attackers to run malicious JavaScript code. The Zerodium hack took advantage of a bug in the NoScript extension for Tor Browser. Both NoScript and Tor Browser have been updated, and in Tor Browser v. 8.0 and later, the bug has been fixed.

These cases should not discourage you from using Tor; Rather, they explain that even Tor is not 100% secure.

How to use Tor safely

As with any privacy tool, proper use is critical. Abusing Tor can put your online privacy at risk in unexpected ways.

  • Tor will encrypt your data as it passes through the Tor network, but the encryption of your traffic between the Tor final relay and your destination location depends on that location. Only visit websites that use HTTPS or HTTPS. This protocol creates an encrypted link between the Tor final relay and your destination website. Any website with a URL starting with “https://” uses HTTPS, and Tor Browser comes with the HTTPS Everywhere add-on. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a great diagram that shows how Tor and HTTPS work together to protect your data.
  • Tor Browser blocks many plug-ins, such as Flash, RealPlayer, and QuickTime. These plugins can be manipulated to expose your IP address in ways that Tor cannot prevent.
  • If you are using Tor Browser, know that your Tor Browser’s internet traffic will only be routed through Tor. Other apps on your device will continue to connect normally to the Internet and may show your real IP address.
  • The Tor Browser window should not be maximized. If you zoom in on Tor Browser, websites can limit your device’s screen size, which can narrow the device you’re using and help those websites track your activity. Tor always recommends that you use the default screen size of the Tor browser.
  • You should not open documents downloaded through the Tor browser while you are online. These documents can contain Internet resources that would reveal your real IP address. If you need to view a .doc or .pdf file, you must disconnect your computer from the Internet first, or you must use Tor OS, Tails.
  • Similarly, you cannot use BitTorrent over Tor. Torrenting will send your real IP address in a GET tracking request, identifying your torrent and web traffic. It will also slow down the entire Tor network.
  • It’s also important to note that Tor will not protect your privacy from a website that you have to log into. Once you are logged in, you have identified yourself for this site – and anyone who may be monitoring activity on that site.
  • Finally, if you use Tor to access the dark web, you should be until far away caution. Only use dark web URLs that you know are accurate. Do not click any ads on any website on the dark web. Check every link on the dark web before clicking on it. Visiting unknown sites on the dark web is a quick way to infect your device. Trusted sites on the dark web, such as the Tor email portal at ProtonMail, usually have a valid SSL certificate.

Safe alternatives to Tor

Tor provides an excellent way to anonymize online activity, but some limitations, especially slow browsing speeds, can be too limiting for the average Internet user.


For users who find Tor too complex or need higher performance, a trustworthy VPN like ProtonVPN is a good alternative. A VPN will encrypt your internet traffic and prevent attackers from monitoring your browsing activity. It is also faster and easier to use than Tor. Once the VPN app is installed, all it takes is one click to create an encrypted VPN connection. Switching your connection between countries is much easier with a VPN than with Tor. ProtonVPN’s Tor over VPN feature allows you to access onion sites without having to download and set up Tor Browser. However, VPNs, such as Tor, also have their limitations when it comes to security and privacy, so it is important to understand the VPN threat model.

Although it is not 100% secure, Tor is the best option for those in dire need of online anonymity, provided you follow the guidelines. For anyone else who wants to be able to stream Netflix or use BitTorrent while hiding your IP address and location from advertisers and trackers, ProtonVPN is a more practical option.

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