Technology

What’s Tor Browser, and Who Uses It?

As more people are becoming part of the global online community, maintaining one’s safety and privacy is also increasing in importance. Some netizens will stick to managing their online activity, while others go a step further.

You might have heard of the Tor browser and its efficacy as an online privacy tool. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the browser, its uses, inner workings, and potential shortcomings.

What Is the Tor Browser?

The Tor browser is an open-source browser designed to offer anonymous browsing. The term Tor stands for The Onion Router and refers to how the browser encrypts its communication channels. Apart from being free, Tor is also decentralized and runs its relays thanks to volunteers worldwide.

What Is the Tor Browser

On its surface, Tor acts like any other browser. Apple’s ecosystem doesn’t support it, but you can install the browser on a Windows PC, Linux, or Android. Websites can recognize that traffic is coming from Tor and block it. However, the advantages outweigh the drawbacks for some users.

How Does Tor Work?

The Tor browser secures anonymity by encrypting your connection. Each time you want to access content on the internet, Tor heavily encrypts your connection. It then directs it through three layers of relays (hence the onion analogy), picking a random one on the Tor network every time.

How Does Tor Work

Each relay decrypts one of the three encryption layers before accessing the desired site. Someone monitoring your internet activity could surmise you’ve been using the Tor browser. However, they wouldn’t be able to tell what you’ve been using it for.

Since it has to go through three “checkpoints” each time you want to visit a website, Tor is noticeably slower than regular browsers. It also offers several security layers, like disabling JavaScript or media content on the sites you visit, which can make the experience even slower.

Who Uses the Tor Browser?

Anyone who values their privacy and right to expression uses Tor. While Tor’s capabilities make it part of criminals’ toolkits, ordinary people with neutral or good intentions make up the largest part of its user base.

Some don’t want their ISP or government to know what they’re doing on the internet; however harmless it might be. Others, like whistleblowers, journalists, and activists, use it to fight oppression in areas of the world where free speech is undesirable.

The Tor browser is perfectly legal for citizens in developed democracies. More authoritarian regimes ban or block it as a means of reinforcing censorship. The browser’s development is ongoing, so it’s possible to circumvent such bans.

What’s the Difference between the Tor Browser and a VPN?

Knowing what you now know about Tor, this is a logical question to ask. The fundamentals are similar, after all.

The main difference is that Tor encrypts only your browsing activities, while a VPN secures your entire internet connection. This can include streaming services, game servers, torrent trackers, and more. VPNs emphasize end-point security and protecting communication from theft and cyberattacks.

Sometimes VPN providers offer additional features, and turning the same VPN on can protect you from online threats or help you block malware. That means this tool, for the most part, is specifically designed to enhance your security.

Moreover, using a VPN doesn’t slow down your browsing experience as much as Tor since the tunnel that encrypts communication is a single protective measure. Tor uses random relays, meaning that the IP address a website sees will also be random. VPNs may cycle through IP addresses, but you can specify their location.

Tor is free. Companies develop VPNs and monetize their most powerful features. This gives VPN developers a vested interest in keeping their products up-to-date and capable of shielding you from a wide range of cyberattacks.

Tor and the Dark Web

The Dark or Deep Web refers to online websites search engines don’t index. Combine that with the ability to visit such sites anonymously, and it’s clear why Tor is the perfect browser to access them.

Among other things, the dark web is home to illegal and immoral content that we highly encourage you not to pursue. For some, it’s also the only means by which they can communicate freely, expose injustice, and organize to do something about it.

Read also: How to Secure Your iCloud Login and Protect Your Data

Features of Tor Browser

Here are some major features of Tor Browser:

  • Go Anywhere: Access Tor on Linux, Windows, and Mac. It’s for everyone!
  • Ultimate Protection: Your data turns into a secret code before it travels the web.
  • Your Key to Privacy: Watch your data change back into plain language, just for you.
  • Double in One: Enjoy the best of Firefox and the Tor Project combined.
  • Stay Hidden: Websites won’t know who’s visiting – it’s a secret between you and Tor.
  • Unlock Everything: Tor gets you into locked websites
  • Source Incognito: Whatever you do, your IP address stays a secret.
  • Beyond Boundaries: Breakthrough firewalls and reach hidden online places.
  • Local Installation: Plug and play – run Tor right from your USB, no local installation is needed.
  • Handling the Load: Thousands of relays, millions of users – Tor can take it all.

FAQs

What is Tor used for?

Many people utilize Tor for many purposes. The Tor browser, for instance, is used by many reporters in countries where freedom of expression is restricted so that they can cover controversial themes while remaining anonymous. The Tor browser is not just used to get around government restrictions on the internet. Tor browser users are another group that can surf the web without being tracked.

Where can I download Tor?

The free software Tor can be obtained from the Tor Project’s website. Tor’s installation on both Windows and Mac is fairly similar and simple.

Conclusion

Tor browser is a must-have in today’s world. If your workplace restricts certain websites, and you want to keep your online activities private from prying eyes or the NSA, Tor is your go-to solution. This remarkable tool deserves your attention.

While Tor offers potent anonymous browsing capabilities, it’s not flawless. Its speed can be a tad slow, and vulnerabilities can surface. Plus, be mindful that using Tor might draw undesired attention from your government or internet service provider. Stay informed and make the most of this powerful tool.

Faisal Iqball

Faisal Saim is professional writer and content strategist with over 03 years of experience in the industry. specializes in creating engaging and informative content for businesses and individuals across a variety of niches, from Technology and Travelling to Health and finance. Saim writing has been published on numerous platforms.

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