Tor is free software for enabling anonymous communication. The name is derived from an acronym for the original software project name “The Onion Router”.
Tor directs Internet traffic through a free, worldwide, volunteer overlay network consisting of more than seven thousand relays to conceal a user’s location and usage from anyone conducting network surveillance or traffic analysis. Using Tor makes it more difficult to trace Internet activity to the user: this includes “visits to Web sites, online posts, instant messages, and other communication forms”.
Tor’s intended use is to protect the personal privacy of its users, as well as their freedom and ability to conduct confidential communication by keeping their Internet activities from being monitored.
History of Tor:
Tor is based on the principle of ‘onion routing’ which was developed by Paul Syverson, Michael G. Reed and David Goldschlag at the United States Naval Research Laboratory in the 1990’s. The alpha version of Tor, named ‘The Onion Routing Project’ or simply TOR Project, was developed by Roger Dingledine and Nick Mathewson. It was launched on September 20, 2002. Further development was carried under the financial roof of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
The Tor Project Inc. is a non-profit organization that currently maintains Tor and is responsible for its development. The United States Government mainly funds it, and further aid is provided by the Swedish Government and different NGOs & individual sponsors.
How Tor Works?
Tor works on the concept of ‘onion routing’ method in which the user data is first encrypted and then transferred through different relays present in the Tor network, thus creating a multi-layered encryption (layers like an onion), thereby keeping the identity of the user safe.
One encryption layer is decrypted at each successive Tor relay, and the remaining data is forwarded to any random relay until it reaches its destination server. For the destination server, the last Tor node/exit relay appears as the origin of the data. It is thus tough to trace the identity of the user or the server by any surveillance system acting in the mid-way.
Is it safe or legal to use the Tor browser?
Yes, it’s safe and legal to use Tor browser.
But one more thing, it depends on your content, if you are visiting legal content with Tor then it’s legal.
But if you are doing something wrong with the help of Tor then it may create trouble for you.
The internet is like a glacier. The tip of the glacier or the Surface Web are parts of the Internet that you can find from a search engine. But there is a large part (said to be around 90%) of the Internet that cannot be found by search engines. This forms the Deep Web. For example, when you go to Facebook from your browser and see the login page, you are on the surface web. This page can be found by using a normal search engine or by directly going to its URL. However, the moment you log in to your account, you are inside the deep web. Your Facebook feed cannot be accessed by a search engine. You need to go through a door of sorts to access it.
There, however, is a darker part of Deep Web called the Dark Web. This is where the bad guys come in. This is the place where there are marketplaces for drugs, illegal guns, stolen credit cards, and even professional assassins. And that’s not even the worst part of it. Needless to say, those guys running these sites would be absolutely destroyed if their identities are revealed. Thus they operate on the dark web. These websites have the suffix of .onion and can only be accessed by special browsers like TOR. This is what TOR is infamous for. Sure there are people who use it for genuine, privacy concerns; but a lot of people use it as an access point to the dark web.
Using TOR is not illegal, but visiting dark websites engaging in activities that are illegal in your country will be illegal. You can still use it for your day to day activities, but remember that it will be slower than your normal browsers as the data is passed across many nodes as I mentioned above.
TOR Latest Update:
The Tor Project team has released Tor Browser 8.0, a brand-new version of the web browser to the public recently.
Tor Browser is based on Mozilla Firefox; more precisely on Mozilla’s Extended Support Release version of the Firefox web browser. Tor Browser 8.0 is based on Firefox 60.2 ESR. Tor Browser includes Tor which users of the web browser can use to connect to the Tor network to anonymize their Internet connection and various improvements especially when it comes to online privacy.
How to uninstall TOR browser?
Tor Browser does not affect any of the existing software or settings on your computer. Uninstalling Tor Browser will not affect your system’s software or settings.
Removing Tor Browser from your system is simple:
- Locate your Tor Browser folder. The default location on Windows is the Desktop; on Mac OS X it is the Applications folder. On Linux, there is no default location, however, the folder will be named “tor-browser_en-US” if you are running the English Tor Browser.
- Delete the Tor Browser folder.
- Empty your Trash
Note that your operating system’s standard “Uninstall” utility is not used.
Hornet is a new anonymity network that provides higher network speeds compared to Tor. I2P (Invisible Internet Project) and Freenet are other anonymity networks which can act as Tor alternatives. Also, Tails and Subgraph OS are Linux-based distributions with built-in Tor support.
Source: wikipedia, torproject, fossbytes, Arpit-Kubadia, eff, winmyst