Tor users swear by and are grateful for the kind of internet privacy and security provided by the browser. Over the years though, technology has been catching up with the browser and some of its flaws have been capitalized on.
Even though a good number of these flaws have been patched, that doesn’t take away the fact that Tor alone might not be enough.
It is thus worth considering layering your Tor connection over a VPN when next you want to surf the internet/ deep web.
How Tor works
The Onion Router (TOR) was called that name for a reason. The browser has been carefully engineered to house a massive load of servers/ nodes for bettering user internet privacy and security. Whenever the user connects via the browser, their internet data is made to pass through a system of three nodes.
These are the:
- Entry node: which, as the name implies, indicates where the user accesses the internet from. The entry node of a Tor browser stores the IP address information of the user as they are trying to contact a website on the internet/ dark web
- Middle node: is the channel through which the said internet data gets obfuscated. The IP address of the user is then changed so that it doesn’t match their physical destination. By so doing, their computer (and thus, location) cannot be determined
- Exit node: the internet data leaves the onion layers through this server before contacting the target website. At this point, neither the website nor the exit node is aware of where the data is originally coming from.
Going by this model, the entry node knows your identity but is engineered not to see what you are requesting via the browser.
The middle node – which is where the real encryption begins – doesn’t see anything. What it does mainly is separate the entry and exit nodes from each other. The exit node is then on ground to allow you communicate to the target website/ platform but have no idea of your identity.
Why should I use a VPN then?
It could look like Tor has solved all the problems, but that could not be farther from the truth.
The very fact that the browser sees who you are at the entry node makes it a security risk in itself. Who’s to say it can’t be attacked to reveal that information to someone who knows just what loophole to exploit?
Speaking of loopholes, Tor has had issues with bugs in the past. These bugs were so serious, they created a backdoor in the browser which put the security of every user at risk.
Those should be enough to convince you into getting a VPN, but there’s more.
If not for the kind of privacy features it provided, no one would like Tor based on its speed – or lack thereof. To cap it all off, some people can’t even get to use the browser in their countries due to georestrictions.
A VPN takes all of that out of the way.
A good model of operation would be to use Tor over a VPN, not the other way around. When you set up the VPN connection before accessing your browser, you get to choose any initial IP of your choice.
Doing so ensures your entry node data is not your true location but a virtual one. Going for a VPN which has been primed for speed too, your Tor browsing days just got better.
Why companies should get Tor pages
Some companies have started developing Tor pages for their businesses while a lot of others are yet to catch on that train. If you fall in the latter category, it might be time to invest in one.
ExpressVPN – one of the leading figures in internet and data security – make use of their Tor page to further protect user anonymity. The Tor pages are not able set cookies on visitors’ browser that would have made them identifiable, so users can be sure that the VPN company knows absolutely nothing about them. This is a great way to make customers feel at ease about the purchase as Tor pages foster a trustless relationship between the seller and the buyer, whereby customers needn’t worry about having their data captured and their footprints traced.
Tor pages also bring the added advantage of masking your metadata effectively. For those that operate dark websites, a Tor page will hide your traffic on the network among other ordinary traffic streams. Otherwise, you might become identifiable due to the heavy traffic coming your way.
This guest post by Jack Warner/D. Cadelina @TechWarn
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