Join Scott Simpson for an in-depth discussion in this video What is Tor?, part of Browsing the Web Securely.
- [Instructor] Tor is a system that sends network traffic through a series of different nodes throughout the world, ultimately releasing it onto the internet through an exit node, in an effort to obscure where the original traffic came from. Every so often Tor randomizes the path that your data takes through the internet. Data that you send and receive is shuffled between different nodes of the Tor network, and individual nodes don't know the whole path that your data takes. Information sent between these nodes is wrapped up in layers of encryption, so as traffic moves through the network, these encryption layers get peeled off by successive nodes.
When the traffic reaches an exit node, which could be anywhere in the world, your traffic appears to be coming from somewhere other than where you're actually located. This route anonymizing service can help you avoid being tracked on the internet for whatever reason you need to. But like anything else it's not a magic bullet, and so if you're using it, you still need to employ other safety tools as well. It won't prevent you from falling victim to phishing schemes, and it won't protect traffic that's not designed to go through it. BitTorrent and some other services can leak information that Tor tries to protect, and you should still make sure you're using HTTPS when communicating with a website or service.
The Tor network is made up of computers around the world running the Tor software, and advertising themselves as possible nodes that can be used to create a route. You can download the Tor client and participate in the network if you have the resources and ability to do so. Well Tor can refer to a few things. The network, the software that people providing the network run, and the project overall. There's a program called Tor Browser that we can use to browse the web and be guaranteed that we're using the Tor network. Other applications may not work with Tor in quite the right way, so if you need to be sure about the anonymity of your web traffic, use Tor Browser.
We'll take a look at that in just a moment. There are some good tips on the Tor Project site, here at torproject.org, and I recommend that you read through the site. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a fun infographic that shows how Tor and HTTPS interact. So I encourage you to take a look at that as well.
- Selecting a VPN provider
- Installing a VPN
- Setting up your own personal VPN
- Browsing the internet with Tor