What Makes The Tor Network So Private and Secure?

What makes the Tor Browser Secure
Rate our article

For some time now, the Tor browser has been an efficient method of browsing the internet anonymously. It’s understandable why such a solution would be needed with the increase of cyber crime flooding the web; users may feel unsafe using basic services, especially when it comes down to doing something that requires your personal information. But is the Tor network any better? Sure, it allows you to have a certain level of anonymity, but is it actually safe? 

In this article, we’ll give you the rundown of how safe the Tor network actually is and some tips to use it safely. 

What is the Tor browser?

The Tor browser stands for The Onion Router. It’s a specialised browser that is designed to boost your online privacy and security by hiding your identity online. Built on the Mozilla Firefox platform and modified, the Tor browser allows users to hide their IP address by routing their internet traffic through a series of relays and encrypting them, giving you more layers of privacy like the layers of an onion, hence the name.

Download the Tor Browser for Free Here

The Tor browser is also a free, open-source project, which means all its dealings are open to those who use it. It gained popularity because of its robust privacy features, including no logs, hiding your IP address, and no fingerprinting, making it difficult for anyone to track what you’re doing on the web. It’s the perfect tool for anyone wanting to hide their online browsing habits, especially in countries that have strict browsing rules. 

Developed in the mid-2000s, Tor was initially a project of the United States Naval Research Laboratory with the primary aim of protecting government communications. It didn’t take long for the broader public to realize its potential for preserving anonymity online.

For this very reason, it’s the Darknet Markets moved away from the regular internet to Tor Browser usage. Darknet markets capitalize on the highly secure, very private network. It’s now become the ultimate OpSec tool. The use of Tor, along with other privacy-preserving tools like cryptocurrencies, has become standard among these markets, illustrating a significant shift in how illicit goods are traded online.

How does a Tor Browser Work?

As an open-sourced software, the Tor network is run by volunteers. When you use the Tor network, your traffic moves from one relay to another. Every time it comes to a new relay, it is encrypted again, giving it that extra layer of protection we spoke about earlier. To explain this further, as you search for something, your info goes into the entry node, then the middle node and finally the exit node before it reaches its destination, providing you with an extra layer of security with every relay it passes. 

Is the Tor Browser Safe?

Down to the question at hand. In short, the Tor browser is fairly safe, depending on how you use it of course. It’s designed to enhance your privacy and security by routing your online activity through multiple relays, masking your IP address and making your activity difficult to track. That said, your safety on the Tor browser is still not promised, here’s why.

Because the Tor browser offers anonymity for your browsing activity, it’s the perfect place to conduct crime and hide it. So while it’s generally safe to use for basic browsing, if you use it to download documents or enable plugins you’re not promised protection against malware or other malicious software. 

Likewise, if your device is compromised, then that opens up other risks like your IP address and location being compromised or your data. Here’s a pro tip, don’t use your personal information on the Tor network. The Tor network was designed for you to browse the web privately, if you use your personal information on it, you kind of defeat the objective and open yourself up to risk. 

Benefits of the Tor Browser

So, now that we’ve discussed how safe the Tor browser is, let’s take a look at its benefits and risks so that you can design whether it’s worth using or not. Here are the benefits of the Tor Browser:

  • Tor Browser increases online privacy and anonymity by hiding your online privacy by using multiple layers of encryption
  • It gives you access to websites that are blocked
  • The Tor browser doesn’t store any of your data including history, logs etc.
  • The Tor browser is open-sourced, making it transparent and trustable.
  • It has regular updates, ensuring consistent service.
  • It’s compatible with multiple devices and operating systems.

Risks of using the Tor Browser

Like with any online platform, there’s always going to be a little risk involved. The Tor network is not exempt from this. Here are some risks associated with using the Tor network:

  • Some websites block Tor users, so you might not be able to visit all the websites you want to.
  • If you don’t use the Tor Browser correctly, like downloading unsafe files, you could still risk your privacy.
  • Bad people can run Tor servers, and if you’re unlucky, they might see some of your information when it leaves the Tor network.
  • Using Tor might make your internet slower because your connection jumps around different places in the world.
  • Some governments or groups might think you’re suspicious just for using Tor, even if you’re not doing anything wrong.
  • Tor Browser doesn’t protect you if your computer already has viruses or spyware.
  • People can sometimes still figure out who you are, even though Tor makes it much harder.
  • Tor can be complicated for beginners, and if you don’t set it up right, it might not work as well to protect your privacy.

Tor Browsing Safety precautions

Using the Tor browser is an effective way of staying anonymous online, but you need to use it wisely. Here are a few tips that should help you get the most out of the privacy and security features the Tor browser has to offer:

  • Always stay up to date with the latest Tor Browser. Tor is always improving to ensure it gives its users the best service. However, so are those trying to take advantage of it. Staying up to date gives you the best security features and lessens your risk.
  • Don’t download any files off the Tor browser, there could be malware attached to it or you could give away your location.
  • Always use HTTPS sites. This will be in your web address in the search bar and tell you that the site you’re using has an extra layer of security.
  • Avoid dodgy websites if you can. 
  • Never use your personal information on the Tor browser. 
  • Don’t activate any plugins while you use the Tor Browser. Plugins can bypass the Tor browser and access your IP address. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You access any website with the Tor Browser?

Unfortunately not. While there are a ton of websites that you can access with the Tor browser, others might not allow you access because they need your IP address or they’ve blocked the Tor browser altogether. 

Should I use the Tor Browser or VPN?

This depends on what you want to do and on the internet speed you’re looking for. The Tor browser is great for anonymous browsing but can be slow. You also should avoid downloading it or using your personal info. On the other hand, a VPN is great for maintaining your privacy while being able to download documents, stream and use your personal information. 

How is the Tor Network Funded?

The Tor network is run by a network of volunteers but receives its funding from a few places including individual funding, government grants, corporate sponsorships, NGO donations or crowdfunding. 

How does the Tor network ensure user anonymity?

The Tor network ensures user anonymity by routing internet traffic through a series of volunteer-operated servers around the world. This complex routing process, known as onion routing, encrypts the data multiple times and obscures a user’s IP address at each relay.

Is it legal to use the Tor network?

Yes, using the Tor network is legal in most countries. It’s a tool for enhancing online privacy and security, widely used by journalists, activists, law enforcement agencies, and regular users who wish to protect their online activities from surveillance and tracking.