How to Browse the Web Anonymously with Tor

Posted October 5, 2012 by Chris Luongo in Browsers, Internet

The power of the Tor Browser Bundle allows you to browse the internet anonymously.


Anonymity online is an important issue. Many people use VPNs as a way to stay anonymous. However, many of the VPN services are expensive. Setting up a free one yourself is very difficult.

You can easily browse the internet anonymously without having to configure a VPN or use a paid service. Tor is a client that routes your traffic through a own network and other Tor users. This setup will zigzag and weave your web browsing through many different Tor nodes using encryption.

Picture the service as if someone was following you in real life, and you randomly walked through a maze of stores throughout your city to evade this person. Likewise, in theory, your ISP should not be able to tell what your doing as tor manipulates your network traffic.

Of course, all anonymous services can be used for nefarious means. However, since Tor routes traffic through other Tor users, it is entirely possible that TOR will route some evil activity through your network. As Tor’s network is mainly created through users sharing and rerouting the content for each other, you could be helping other users hide illegal activity. The ethical dilemmas and moral conflicts involved are personal choices for you to decide.

This article is not intended for using Tor to hide illegal manner. Be safe and be smart.

1 TOR has a special package called the Browser Bundle. This is a version of Firefox integrated with TOR magic to streamline the performance. Trying to configure TOR for Chrome or a non “tor-fied” version of Firefox can be difficult and yield very slow connections in some cases. You can download the Tor Browser Bundle here:

https://www.torproject.org/download/download-easy.html.en

2 Once Tor Browser Bundle downloads, we need to extract it. I simply extracted it to my Desktop in this example.

Tor

3 Now launch the file called Start Tor Browser.exe in the Tor Browser folder you just extracted.

4 A program will pop up called the Vidalia Control Panel. It attempt to connect to the Tor network.

5 TorBrowser will then pop up with a message in green showing that the connection is successful. It will also list your virtual IP address. If you close the TorBrowser, Vidalia will automatically disconnect from the Tor network as well

6 Want to change your IP again? Switch to Vidalia with TorBrowser still open and click Use a New Identity

After this you can refresh you page and see that your virtual IP address has been changed. At this point you can proceed with anonymous browsing of the web through the TorBrowser. Remember that by installing additional browser extensions and plugins, you may reduce the effectiveness of your anonymous connection.

 

About Chris Luongo

Chris is a self-taught web designer and developer out of Atlanta, GA. This geek enjoys coffee, cold brews, bike riding, and twisting any form of tech into submission.
View more articles by Chris Luongo

The Conversation

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  • David Kirk

    The majority of hacker-ish type damage that has been done to Tech-Recipes in the past has been tunnelled through Tor, so I have very mixed feelings about it. That being said, I do believe Tor is a tool that can be used for good or bad. In our current world where some nations suppress and publish their peoples for voicing their opinions, I believe that Tor is essential for many people in many areas of the world.

    • Martin S.

      > …can be used for good or bad. In our current world where some nations suppress and publish their peoples for voicing their opinions, I believe that Tor is essential for many people in many areas of the world.

      An interesting dilemma: what may be a despicable, clandestine activity in one part of the world can be honourable elsewhere where the local political system is itself despicable, and clandestine operation the only way to beat it.

      I certainly won’t open up my computers and Internet connection to unchecked activity by others! It could, in fact, be criminal to do so – and not only in the above mentioned despicable legislatures. I’d be proud to have been part of the Arab Spring, but I’d still rather avoid being part of the international drug cartels, or Al Qaeda’s activities.

      • Bob

        > Interesting comment. For the “Arab Spring” but against “Al Queda” who was behind much of the “Arab Spring” and is now in the process of taking over. The death of Bin Laden did not finish off Al Queda. They killed the AMericans in Libya and are raising havoc in other Arab countries.

        • David Kirk

          Martin S. and Bob – I think historians will be debating for many years what and who sparked the Arab Spring and how it morphed and mutated as it progressed. Tor, like many other tools (including the act of revolution) can be used for good or evil. I believe it is my job to educate, not to judge.

  • Chris Kleiner

    I guess it is just the same thing with TOR as with many other things… For example take atom physics. The technology enabled the possibilty to build nuclear warheads. But it also gave us the possibilty to gain access to a big energy source… (of course there is not everything good about nuclear energy too)
    Both can be used for good or evil. But there is a possibility to control nuclear power. There are contracts and intelligence corps that keep the world from rigging atomic weapons. And these weapons cannot be built on the q.t. TOR however can be used easily by everybody. (6 steps for installing 😉 ) I guess this is the danger about it.

    • David Kirk

      I totally agree that the ease of Tor is one of the things that makes it so powerful and so dangerous. Of course, when I was growing up during the birth of the internet, nobody could track me either, and I turned out okay. Kinda. 🙂