Tor helps protect your browsing activity by routing it through a series of nodes. Find out how to use Tor in this video.
- [Instructor] Tor, or The Onion Router, sends network traffic through a series of nodes in order to help obscure its source. The name Onion Router comes from the way that Tor transfers information between your computer and the Internet. When you're using Tor, information from your computer, like a web request or a message, is sent to a series of different computers all around the world each running an onion router service. Each node of this network only knows about which node the information came from and the next node it's being sent to. Routing information, the data that says where to send the information next, is wrapped up layer upon layer like the layers of an onion.
These layers are encrypted, so only particular nodes can read the information that each one contains. So no individual node has information about the original source or the ultimate destination. As the information moves from node to node, the routing information is decrypted and the information is sent along the path. This can be helpful for a number of reasons ranging from helping to ensure location privacy to testing out a website from different points on the globe. When you use Tor a chain of nodes is put together for you to use. These nodes can be anywhere in the world, which means that your traffic might be traveling a lot further than it would without Tor.
This can cause browsing to be quite a bit slower. But shuffling data around the Internet is kind of the point of Tor, so that's something you'll need to put up with. If you need to, you can have the software generate a new chain of nodes, called a circuit, whenever you want. One effect of having your traffic exit to the Internet at a random point on the globe is that you'll often find yourself seeing localized websites. If your final or exit node is in France, for example, and you visit Google, chances are the interface will be in French. So it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with where the language controls are on the sites you visit through Tor.
From the Tor Project's website at torproject.org you can download Tor Browser, which lets you browse the web using the Tor network. A click on the button here, and then I'll click the purple Download button for Windows (64 bit). When the download finishes I'll open it up, and I'll click through the installer. I'll click on Start Tor Browser to start the Tor Browser. Here I'm asked to connect or click Configure to adjust the network settings if I need to. I know that my connection doesn't have anything that would prevent me from running Tor on it, but yours might.
(fast tapping) It looks like my exit node is in Switzerland. (fast tapping) (fast tapping) Notice that as I browse around I definitely see a speed reduction, but that makes sense given how many other nodes my traffic is traveling through out from my system and back.
This onion icon here on the left of the toolbar gives me access to some Tor-specific settings. I can generate a new identity here, which will reset my session with a new circuit and clear out anything that might be stored. I can also choose the security level under Security Settings which balances out security and safety with convenience and other features. We start in the standard mode. But if I want to browse more safely, I can change the level and some technologies that websites use will be disabled. I'll leave it at standard.
In the Onion menu, I can also change my Tor network settings or check for a browser update. For now, I'll click New Identity. We'll reset the identity and get a new circuit. Let's see where we are now. (fast tapping) Now it looks like my exit node is in Sweden. That's the very basics of using Tor Browser. It works just like a regular browser except for some privacy-focused differences.
If you're sensitive about your web browsing activity, give Tor a look. And be sure to read through the documentation and examples on their website to help you further understand why you might need to use Tor and how to use it correctly. And if you're on a network that blocks Tor, be sure to take a look at the documentation to see how to approach that situation.