The Tor browser and the Onion network altogether are infamously known for their privacy and security features. Rightfully so, and if you’re careful, you can browse the web with Tor with no trace and 100% anonymity. It’s the very basics of OpSec. However, the Tor Browser can often be blocked by the Government or your ISP. So sometimes you need to find a way around it. That’s where bridges come in. You can make a bridge on Tor to increase security and circumvent certain restrictions; Here’s how you can create a bridge of your own!
What is a Tor Bridge?
Firstly, what is a Tor bridge? Well, these bridges work as the Tor Projects circumvention tools. The Tor Browser uses these bridges to run Tor relays through different servers and keep your connection to the Tor browser a secret as you use it. Here’s where the difference comes in. Public relays on your local network don’t block your access to the Tor browser. As you connect to the browser, your connection to Tor and the layer-by-layer encryption begins.
While Tor does an excellent job with its encryption, using a bridge adds that extra level of security by hiding your connection altogether. Tor bridges are often used when the link to the Tor network is blocked or censored by the government or other entities. By camouflaging your connection to Tor, you can bypass these restrictions.
In places like China, Iran, and most recently, Russia, the government has laws against the usage of the Tor browser and forced the blocking of access to public Tor relays. This leaves millions of daily Tor users unable to access the various website. Through the Tor bridge, these users have the opportunity to gain access and continue to use the anonymous browsing tool.
Recently, official Tor Project developers have called its community to help in the task of making enough Tor Bridges to sustain all the new traffic. They are running a large campaign to spin up more bridges and have already reached the goal of over 300 obfs4 bridges. The bridges currently up would not work for the amount of traffic going through them, though.
Is it Safer to Use a Tor Bridge?
Tor is designed with privacy and security in mind. Their initial goal was to reduce user traceability by using onion routing encryption to give users an anonymous online presence. Unfortunately, we know there are many cyber threats, including phishing or info-stealing malware. Because of its privacy features, Tor also attracts a more conspicuous crowd. With that in mind, optimizing your online safety and security should always be a priority.
Here’s where using a Tor bridge helps out. By hiding your connection to the Tor browser, you add an extra layer of protection over and above Tor already offers. So yes, if you are using a Tor bridge, it does make using Tor safer and more secure.
How to Make a Tor Bridge
When using a Tor bridge, you use a pluggable transport in Tor. Currently, there are three types of pluggable transports you can use:
- Obfs4: bridges make Tor traffic look random and also prevent bridge detection.
- Meek: makes you look like you are using a legitimate browser or major website as a disguise.
- Snowflake: Sends your traffic through a WebRTC.
Pluggable transports like Obfs4 use bridge relays to provide protection and security to your online presence. To connect to a Tor bridge relay, follow the steps below:
- Make sure you have the Tor Software installed on your computer.
- Open the Tor software.
- Go to “Settings”
- Click on the Network tab.
- Check the box that says, “My ISP blocks connections to the Tor network.”
- A dialogue box, “Add a bridge”, will appear. Here you can see all the bridges you currently have.
- To get a new bridge, click “Get bridge now”.
- Alternatively, you can go to https://bridges.torproject.org/. The bridges listed here will change every few days to avoid getting blocked.
- The last method to get a Tor bridge address is emailing bridges.torproject.org and asking for a bridge address. Remember to add the subject of your email as “Tor Bridge Address”. Toe will only send addresses to people who email from a Gmail account.
- Copy each new relay/bridge into the “add a bridge” dialogue box and click the plus sign to add them to the rest of the list.
- Click okay to complete the process.
- Tor will now use these new relays automatically.
Which Tor Bridge Should You Use
Each transport on the Tor network has different functions and provides you with a layer of security in a unique way. So the Tor bridge you need to choose must align with what you are looking for.
For example, if you cannot connect to the Tor network in your country and want to circumvent that block, then obfs4 is a great choice. We suggest adding a few bridge addresses to the list if you’re trying to use a bridge for the first time. The more, the merrier, right?
It also depends on your country. Some countries or strict on programs like Tor which might force you to use a certain bridge type. Email Tor or contact their Telegram Bot @GetbridgeBot if you wonder what bridge to use. Remember to add “private bridge cn” as the subject and give them the country you are emailing from. They will set you up with the best bridge for your area.
Frequently Asked Questions
Because Tor relays the information through various servers, your connection will be a bit slower; it might not even be noticeable.
Tor bridges are great for people who simply want more privacy when they use the Tor network. However, they are perfect if you want to circumvent a blocked connection if you cannot use the Tor network in your country, business, or region.
The Tor network currently has 2470 bridges running worldwide. Volunteers add more bridges to the Tor network daily while randomizing bridge addresses to avoid getting blocked.
Hey there, I’m a dark web geek who’s been around for the last 8 years. More precisely, I’m livedarknet’s senior content writer who’s been writing about darknet marketplaces, tutorials, and cybersecurity stuff for educational purposes.