Tor (The Onion Router) is a very sophisticated network of proxy servers.When you use Tor to access a Web site, your communications are randomly routed through a network of independent, volunteer proxies. All the traffic between Tor servers (or relays) is encrypted, and each of the relays knows only the IP address of two other machines – the one immediately previous to it and the one immediately after it in the chain.
The goal of this is unlinkability. Tor makes it very difficult for:
To connect to the Internet through the Tor network and use it for anonymity, privacy, and circumvention, you need to install the Tor client software on your computer. It is also possible to run a portable version of the program from a USB flash drive or other external device.
Tor is compatible with most versions of Windows, Mac OS X, and GNU/Linux.
Tor uses a SOCKS proxy interface to connect to applications, so any application that supports SOCKS (versions 4, 4a and 5) can have its traffic anonymized with Tor, including:
If you installed Tor from the Vidalia Bundle, Tor Browser Bundle or Tor IM Browser Bundle, Tor will have also configured an HTTP application proxy as a front-end to the Tor network. This will allow some applications that do not support SOCKS to work with Tor.
If you are mostly interested in using Tor for Web surfing and chatting, you may find it easiest to use the Tor Browser Bundle or the Tor IM Browser Bundle which will provide you with ready-to-use pre-configured solutions. The Tor Browser Bundle also includes Torbutton, which improves privacy protection when using Tor with a Web browser. Both versions of Tor can be downloaded at https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.
Tor can be a very effective tool for circumvention and protecting your identity. Tor's encryption hides the contents of your communications from your local network operator, and conceals whom you are communicating with or what Web sites you're viewing. When used properly, it provides significantly stronger anonymity protection than a single proxy.
The Tor Browser Bundle lets you use Tor on Windows, OS X, or GNU/Linux without requiring you to configure a Web browser. Even better, it's also a portable application that can be run from a USB flash drive, allowing you to carry it to any computer without installing it on each computer's hard drive.
You can download the Tor Browser Bundle from the torproject.org Web site, either as a single file or a "split" version that is multiple files. If your Internet connection is slow and unreliable, the split version may work better than trying to download one very large file.
If the torproject.org Web site is filtered from where you are, type "tor mirrors" in your favorite Web search engine; the results will probably include some alternative addresses to download the Tor Browser Bundle.
Get Tor through e-mail: send an e-mail to email@example.com with "help" in the message body, and you will receive instructions on how to have the autoresponder bot send you the Tor software.
Caution: When you download the Tor Browser Bundle (plain or split versions), you should check the signatures of the files, especially if you are downloading the files from a mirror site. This step ensures that the files have not been tampered with. To learn more about signature files and how to check them, read https://www.torproject.org/docs/verifying-signatures.
You can download the GnuPG software that you will need to check the signature here: http://www.gnupg.org/download/index.en.html#auto-ref-2.
The instructions below refer to installing Tor Browser on Microsoft Windows. If you are using a different operating system, refer to the Tor Web site for download links and instructions.
When the extraction is completed, open the folder and check that the contents match the image below:
To clean up, delete the .exe file you originally downloaded.
Before you start:
Launch the Tor Browser:
In the Tor Browser folder, double-click Start Tor Browser. The Tor control panel (Vidalia) opens and Tor starts to connect to the Tor network.
When a connection is established, Firefox automatically connects to the TorCheck page and then confirms that your browser is configured to use Tor. This may take some time, depending on the quality of your Internet connection.
If you are connected to the Tor network, a green onion icon appears in the system tray on the lower-right-hand corner of your screen:
Try viewing a few Web sites, and see if they are working. The sites are likely to load more slowly than usual because your connection is being routed through several relays.
If the onion in the Vidalia Control Panel never turns green or if Firefox opened, but displayed a page saying "Sorry. You are not using Tor", as in the image below, then you are not using Tor.
If you see this message, close Firefox and Tor Browser and then repeat the steps above. You can perform this check to ensure that you are using Tor at any time by going to https://check.torproject.org/.
If Tor Browser doesn't work after two or three tries, Tor may be partly blocked by your ISP and you should try using the bridge feature of Tor – see the section below on "Using Tor with Bridges".
If you suspect your access to the Tor network is being blocked, you may want to use the bridge feature of Tor. The bridge feature was created specifically to help people use Tor from places where access to the Tor network is blocked. You must already have successfully downloaded and installed the Tor software to use a bridge.
Bridge relays (or bridges for short) are Tor relays that aren't listed in the main public Tor directory. This is a deliberate measure to stop these relays from being blocked. Even if your ISP is filtering connections to all the publicly known Tor relays, it may not be able to block all the bridges.
To use a bridge, you need to locate one and add its information in your network settings. A simple way to get a few bridges is by simply accessing https://bridges.torproject.org/ with your Web browser. If that Web site is blocked or you need more bridges, send an e-mail from a Gmail account to firstname.lastname@example.org with "get bridges" (without the quotemarks) in the body of the message.
Almost instantly, you will receive a reply that includes information about a few bridges:
After you get addresses for some bridge relays, you must configure Tor with whatever bridge address you intend to use:
Click Settings. A Settings window opens.
Add as many bridge addresses as you can. Additional bridges increase reliability. One bridge is enough to reach the Tor network, however if you have only one bridge and it gets blocked or stops operating, you will be cut off from the Tor network until you add new bridges.
To add more bridges in your network settings, repeat the steps above with the information on the additional bridges that you got from the email@example.com e-mail message.
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