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Now that youve read about the three most common methods to secure your internet activities, you may have come to the conclusion that the VPN is superior when it comes to ease of use, security, and speed.
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Using Tor Through VPN
In this method, you have to connect to your VPN server first and connect to the Tor network after that. If you use this method, even your ISP will not know that you are using Tor and accusing the so-called deep web. The Tor entry node and the ISP both will see the VPN servers IP. However, your VPN service provider can figure out you are using Tor. Interestingly, few VPN services like NordVPN use OpenVPN configuration file to offer Tor through VPN.
When To Use A VPN
Youll be better off using a VPN in the following situations:
To bypass censorship: If you reside in a country in which the internet is heavily censored, using a VPN can help you bypass those blocks. You might need to try multiple servers until you find one that works, but a VPN is typically more successful at this than Tor because Tor is more easily blocked.
To bypass region blocks: Many streaming sites like Netflix restrict access to some of their media based on geolocation. French content is only available to users in France German content is only accessible to users in Germany, etc. A VPN allows you to spoof your location and hence can bypass geo-restrictions.
On public WiFI: You never know who else is using the same public WiFi as you are. And public WiFi is typically implemented with weak security, and many public WiFi access points are outright open and unsecured networks. Using a VPN while on public WiFi will protect you from hackers without slowing down your connection too much.
To prevent ISP throttling: Some ISPs privilege certain types of traffic on their network. They achieve this by throttling other types of traffic, typically P2P traffic and video streams. A VPN hides your traffic from your ISP. If your ISP doesnt know what type of traffic youre generating, it cant throttle it either.
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How To Make Tor Browser Safe To Use
Tor is awesome if you use it correctly. To make it secure:
Use a VPN with Tor Browser. Choosing a reliable VPN is one of the best ways to add an extra layer of security and privacy. It effectively solves every security issue Tor has namely, encryption and your IP being known to the entry node.
In short, using Tor together with a great service like NordVPN grants a very high level of online security and privacy.
Fine-tune your Operational Security. Many experts see OpSec as a significant vulnerability for Tor users. By this, we mean ensuring that key identifying information such as payment details, IP addresses, MAC addresses, and your OS are shielded and not transmitted at any point. And it also means making extra sure that your passwords are fit for purpose.
Get pluggable transports and bridges. When you start browsing with Tor, your ISP or the government cannot tell what youre doing but it knows youve connected. Thus, it can effectively block access, unless you use one of the three pluggable transports. If that doesnt help, we recommend using private relays, also known as bridges. That comes with a price of reduced performance, though.
Resist the urge to stock up on extensions. The Firefox-based Tor browser can become vulnerable due to toxic add-ons. This includes free VPNs like Hola or rating apps like Web of Trust. So try to keep your browser setup as clean as possible.
So Am I Safe Using Tor
The answer to this is not straightforward. Tor is designed to provide free anonymous internet to the folks looking to protect their privacy. Even while developers continue to make efforts to increase the security Tor network provides, there are times when authorities and ISPs catch on and monitor activity.
Sometimes, this is for good reason. For example, recently European authorities along with FBI agents cracked down on the dark web drug trade that used Tor. The agencies launched Operation Onymous where they arrested 17 users and seized hundreds of dark web domains. These domains were used to solicit the drug trade and authorities were using Tor to monitor them. Rumors swirled that there were inconsistencies and vulnerabilities in the Tor program but nothing was confirmed. Tor chucked it up to good policing and not a fault in their security but it certainly raised the question of their reliability.
This wasnt the first case however. In the US when authorities connected 150 people to the illegal sale of drugs and paraphernalia on the dark web through Tor. Once again it was never confirmed how they came across the information but it was another stab at the softwares reputation.
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What Are The Disadvantages Of Tor Browser
Apart from some security issues, the main disadvantage of Tor is that its super slow. This is a natural consequence of the fact that your data has to travel through several relays before reaching its destination. Thats the price you pay for anonymity.
Because of this, I dont recommend that you use Tor Browser for streaming or downloading. Its founders also strongly discourage torrenting not only because of speed, but also because it can expose your IP address and compromise your privacy.
If you really want to stream or torrent while maintaining privacy, I would recommend a VPN instead of Tor .
Another disadvantage of using the Tor network is that it can draw unwanted attention to you. Although your ISP cant see your activity, it can see that youre connected to Tor. This may be enough to raise suspicion, and could even turn you into a target for government surveillance.
In addition, its important to remember that Tor Browser is just that: a browser. It cant encrypt any of your other activity, so if youre using other apps you wont have any extra protection. This is another reason why I suggest combining Tor with a VPN to cover all your bases.
How To Use A VPN And Proxy Together
If you really want to use a VPN and a proxy for some reason, the easiest way is the following:
- First, . If you’re looking for a VPN recommendation, ExpressVPN is a great all-rounder VPN for beginners.
- Once you’re connected, use an online proxy service like Hide.me and type in the website you want to visit.
- In this case, the proxy will hide the VPN’s IP address instead of the other way around. We were connected to a VPN server in Switzerland, but accessing an IP lookup service through the proxy showed us a Netherlands IP address.
And there you have it. Be aware that some websites might hit you with the “we’ve detected some unusual activity from your device” warning. Pretty much expected with non-commercial proxies with millions of users, so don’t worry too much about it.
Here are some better ways to hide your identity without setting off the suspicious activity alarm bells.
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Protection From Malicious Exit Nodes
Despite its privacy and anonymity drawbacks, VPN over Tor does provide an extra layer of protection from malicious exit nodes.
Unlike Onion over VPN, Tor exit nodes cannot see your data if you connect to a VPN after connecting to Tor. The VPN will encrypt all traffic from the exit node to the internet, which means the exit node knows that you are connected to VPN software, but not which websites youre visiting.
If your VPN connection is lost, a kill switch will disconnect your device from the internet. This prevents your IP address and other sensitive information from being disclosed. In combination, these factors make it significantly harder for third parties to exploit your information using malicious exit nodes.
Are There Any Tor Alternatives Out There
If you seek to access the dark web securely and confidently, the pairing of Tor and a VPN is arguably the optimum way to do so but there are some competitors out there of note. Freenet and the Invisible Internet Project both operate on similar principles in order to secure anonymity. These are the most viable alternative to Tor Browser but bear in mind, they cannot be used to access.onion sites.
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Dont Operate User Accounts Outside Tor
If you use the TOR browser for checking your Facebook, Twitter, or email accounts, dont ever use those accounts outside the TOR browser as it will expose your online identity to the website. Almost every site on the web now logs information like your login and logout time, your location, your IP address, and other details. Using your account on the open internet even once will be enough to get your IP address logged and eventually reveal your identity.
Why Tor Offers More Than A Standard VPN Or Any Kind Of Proxy
Tor is not as limited as either a proxy or VPN is. Tor offers far superior service in terms of privacy and anonymity all around than its counterparts in secret cyber activity. Tor stands out from its competitors because its specific software acts as a separate browser that is undetectable. Users can surf the web and participate in activities without the suspicion of being preyed upon or have details gathered.
To truly value what Tor brings to the table, it must be put into context. Understanding what both VPN and the various proxies available actually offer an internet user will help. To highlight the important differences between the products, we have put together some brief summaries of each below
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Are Tor And VPNs The Same
The first thing to consider is the difference between Tor and a VPN. Specifically, Tor and VPNs are not the same.
- Tor is an anonymous communication network that routes internet traffic through a global network of nodes, protecting your data within the Tor Browser and Tor Network.
- A VPN encrypts your network connection, tunneling all of your data through the VPN provider’s server. Your internet traffic will appear to come from the IP address of the VPN server, rather than your actual location.
Is It Safe To Use A VPN With Tor
You can use a VPN with Tor safely, with the Tor Over VPN method. For most people, the additional layer of privacy is more than enough.
As with any VPN security and privacy issues, you must use a trustworthy, logless VPN. If you’re not paying for the service, you’re the product. That rings true for VPN services. Furthermore, many of the best VPN services allow independent auditors to verify their privacy credentials, ensuring they are not keeping logs or injecting adverts into your traffic.
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When Should You Use A VPN
Use VPN over Tor if:
- You want to unblock region-locked content. A VPN will help you bypass any localised restrictions if you are in a country where access to your favorite programs or streaming services is closed.
- You want to keep your internet connection private. A VPN uses the most advanced encryption to protect your data. A good VPN also ensures that the websites processing your data don’t see where it came from, giving you the highest degree of anonymity.
- You want to be secure when using public Wi-FI. Using a VPN on public Wi-Fi protects your sensitive information, passwords, and other personal information from would-be hackers.
Protection From Udp Data Leaks
Tor only supports the TCP protocol. This means UDP traffic, including Voice-over-IP, will have to travel outside the Tor network. This traffic may expose your IP address and online activity to third parties known as bad apple attacks.
Onion over VPN provides a layer of protection against this form of attack. Any leaked UDP traffic would still be routed via the VPN server in an encrypted tunnel, which means they cannot be used to identify you.
Data leaks can still happen if the VPN connection is lost, which means its important to understand which traffic is able to travel through the Tor network and adapt your online activity accordingly.
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Why Is Tor So Slow
When you use Tor, your traffic is sent through servers all over the world so its no wonder that it takes a bit longer to browse. There are also other reasons why Tor is slow, like the fact that the network itself is small compared to the number of people who use it. Tors developers are working to address these issues and improve speed.
What Is The Deep Web
The deep web refers to all the websites that cant be reached through a search engine. It includes sites on the dark web, but it also includes everyday sites like business intranets, databases, online banking platforms, and more. Anything that requires authentication for access is part of the deep web.
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How Does Tor Operate
Tor works via a combination of complex algorithms and sophisticated software providing the average internet user high-level security. This intense level of privacy is possible because of extensive research by developers. They discovered relay early cells could be utilized as a cyber defense mechanism that confirms internet traffic attacks.
The strategies involved which enable Tor to provide web anonymity to its users are trafficked through its secure network. Here, the cyber traffic is routed through several relays which are chosen randomly before leaving the Tor network.
A Tor relay is commonly known as or also referred to in some sections as a node or a router. Routers or nodes are the receptors in which Tor gathers the traffic before designating and passing them onto other nodes.
The specific design is so intricate that developers have made it impossible for individual detection of a computer request for traffic. This highlights the exclusive privacy and detection prevention technology brought to its users by the Tor browser.
Connecting Tor Through VPN
In this setting you connect first to your VPN service and then connect to the TOR network After you will access the internet:
Your Device -> VPN -> TOR -> Internet
Some VPNs make this setup quite easy, when you connecting TOR through VPN the IP address of the TOR network exit node will appear on the internet. If someone will try to trace you back he will get only the exit nodes IP address.
Pros of TOR through VPN:
- You ISP will never identify that you are using TOR, even he will know that you are using VPN.The entry node of TOR network will not see your true IP address, because you will connect to TOR through VPN so it will get VPNs IP address not yours.
- Allows users to access TOR hidden services.
Cons of TOR through VPN:
- VPN providers know your real IP address.
- No protection from malicious activity on exit nodes, because non-https incoming and outgoing traffic from exit nodes is not encrypted and can be monitored.Exit nodes are often blocked in TOR network.
- TOR bridge can be effective for hiding tor traffic from ISP, It can be detected with deep packet inspection.
Important Note: Some VPN providers offer connecting TOR through VPN with the help of OpenVPN configuration for example NordVPN, TOR VPN. This configuration file routes your traffic from OpenVPN to TOR. In this case, your entire connection get benefits from the TOR service.You can maximize security when connecting and using TOR through VPN, it is recommended always use TOR browser.
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How To Use The Tor Browser To Access The Deep Web
Deep web is technically a term used to describe parts of the internet not indexed by search engines and thus not ordinarily reachable via them. The dark web is the stuff that isnt accessible via regular internet in Tors case, its the .onion websites that you wouldnt reach without the Tor Browser.
Once you have the Tor Browser running, you can access a dark web site by simply entering the website address. The trouble is finding those addresses. After all, search engines dont work deep or dark webs.
A word of advice, though: some of those websites are hard to find because theyre dealing with illegal activities. Always be on alert.
Can You Be Tracked On Tor
It is possible to track people on Tor, but its not easy. The Tor Browser changes your circuit the network nodes used to reroute your data every ten minutes. However, the nodes are provided by volunteers. This means that government entities may control some nodes. By compromising the entry and the exit nodes, spy agencies can match the time you used Tor and the data you sent .
However, its a lot easier to just snoop on your traffic to tell if youre using Tor. Your ISP cant see the data youre transmitting its encrypted but it can see that its Tor data. Thats why its useful to use a VPN with Tor.
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Why Tor Differs To VPN
Tor serves as a browser with undetectable software for anonymous activity whereas VPN is more of a private network. VPN will allow you to route internet traffic through the VPN network in a secure fashion.
It can also make you appear in a different location which can be handy at times. Cybercriminals will struggle to access your information as your traffic is encrypted both in and out of the VPN server. The confidential details of the traffic can still be hacked on occasion.