20/06/2019

About Tor: How Safe Is It?

About Tor: How Safe Is It?

There are a number of free global networks, which provide anonymity for those who wish to browse secretly. Although anonymous browsing is not prohibited, there are some security issues.


Privacy and security of personal data are increasingly important, because surveillance and censorship are increasingly tough. Apart from VPN, there are a several other options, which boast a degree of security and provide good anonymity. The Onion Router (the Tor network) is one such tool.

It should be noted that there is no tool on Earth to guarantee hundred-per-cent security. When choosing a network, it is imperative that you thoroughly check its pluses and minuses. It is important to know how good and/or bad it is in protecting a particular type of data. Failure to pay due attention to vulnerabilities can lead to a leak of personal and/or confidential information, which can pretty much affect your life.

This post focuses on the most important number-one factors, which should be taken into account to ensure maximal security.

Is Using the Tor Network it legal?

Yes, as long as you get involved in activities that are not prohibited by law and get engaged with projects operating on a legal basis. Anonymity is not a crime, and no law could restrict your desire to stay anonymous. Personal information is highly protected in the civilized world. 

Most such projects are run on a non-profit basis with the use of free software. Networks and software are just tools for browsing the Internet, which is a common and routine practice. The issue is not whether it is legal or not, because it is legal in itself. The problem is that it can just fall into the wrong hands.

Weaknesses

Unfortunately, there is no perfect technology, and it is all but an eternal race between web developers and criminals. The 2014 research held by a team of Carnegie Mellon University scientists got a hand on relays located on both ends of the Tor circuit. This enabled them to monitor data traffic along the circuit and match data volume and timing after checking both ends of it. Thus they got to the IPs of several users. The attack was announced as part of a FBI operation against criminals. However, it did reveal a number of critical vulnerabilities, which prompted the team to take steps to upgrade relays. However, most experts believe, these steps can provide but temporary protection.

Another critical flaw was discovered later by Zerodium – a vulnerability, which enabled hackers to bug the No-Script add-on and pass a malicious JavaScript code. However, the Tor network team debugged the add-on and updated the browser itself. The new browser version does not seem to have this kind of vulnerability. 

This post is not intended for discouraging you from using the browser and convincing you to look for alternatives to Tor right now. There are lots of good things about it. The message is to demonstrate that the network does have its drawbacks, just like any other advanced feature. 

How do I secure my data against hackers?

To achieve the best privacy level, one must take the matter seriously enough and avoid activities that could put your personal data and privacy in danger. These steps are quite simple.

  • The browser uses a data encryption technology, which codes individuals’ data traveling from the last Tor relay to the destination site. However, the encryption depends on the protocol used by the website. It is advisable to visit sites, which use HTTPS – a protocol, which sets up an encryption between the endpoint Tor relay and the destination website. You can tell such websites by the “https:” beginning of the URL. The data protection process between websites and the browser is coordinated with the help of the HTTPS Everywhere feature supported by the browser. 

  • Do not use browsers or applications other than this one to route your data through the Tor network. Although most apps connect well, your IP address can be hacked.   

  • Use every way to conceal your parameters. For example, it is highly unadvisable to use the maximum Tor Browser’s window size. If you do, you will actually report to the website the size of your device’s screen and give them an extra prompt. The more information they get about you, the more likely you are to end up with all your activity tracked and monitored. 

  • Plugins like QuickTime, RealPlayer, Flash, etc., are blocked by the browser, because they have vulnerabilities, which it does not cover. Hackers can use these vulnerabilities to get access to users’ IPs. 

  • You must be very careful when signing in and logging in to websites, because when doing so, you report your identity to these websites. The Tor network does not provide tools that protect this kind of information.

  • Please, do not open PDF or DOC files, which you have downloaded via the browser, because it could be possible to determine your IP address through their content. Every time you need to view one, disconnect your device from the Internet. Also, you can use Tails – the Tor OS, to safely check such documents. Likewise, you should avoid using BitTorrent in the Tor Browser, because if you do, your IP and traffic on the whole will become highly exposed. Besides, torrents slow down the network very much. 

  • Please, be sure that any website you view with the help of the browser, has the SSL certificate. If you need to use dark web resources, use only trustworthy ones. Before visiting one, get to know as much about it as you can. There are lots of infected links out there, especially on the dark web. Avoid clicking on ads or any pop-up elements. In other words, exercise extreme caution when viewing dark web sites via the browser.


Summing it up

Without a doubt, Tor has lots of unique anonymizing options, which make it attractive. However, there are several drawbacks and weaknesses, which should be taken seriously. 

BroVPN

If you find the Tor Browser a little slow or hard, you can resort to a VPN service and use BroVPN – a rapidly growing network, which provides quick access to the Internet. It uses advanced encryption patterns, which are capable of preventing hacker attacks. It does not take a long while to set up a VPN connection. All you need to do is install the BroVPN app and click on the respective function. With BroVPN, you can use an unlimited number of mobile IPs and switch between countries at any time. Most important, you can open sites, which are normally run by anonymizers like Tor, without downloading the browser. Both Tor and VPN are popular and great, each in its own way. However, BroVPN does not guarantee full and complete security either. We want you to do a bit of learning and take steps to secure yourself. Free VPNs rate too low in terms of safety, quality and and reliability, so it is better to avoid getting engaged with them.

BroVPN runs a website, and there is a page with guidelines, following which you can visit your favorite resources with 95% security. The company offers a number of plans and options, which can keep you safe and secure every time you need to sign up or log in or share your personal information in any other way.

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