Anonymity In TOR Under Fire?

Featured, Privacy Issues

TOR AnonymityFor quite some time TOR was a great alternative to VPN in regard of anonymity. For those of us who could not get or afford a VPN account and for those of who did not cared about speed and quality of internet browsing (because TOR is free and as you know at the end of the day someone has to pay for the data traffic, you cannot expect the same speed of servers you would get with VPN service). One thing was certain though – if you use TOR you are invisible, this might not be the case anymore. Learn about TOR anonymity.

How TOR works?

Let us first explain (roughly) how TOR network works. Before we start first you need to know how information gets in and out your computer. Let say, you want to open a website “X”. In normal case request for that would go from your computer to your ISP server and then directly (or almost directly but in fully unencrypted and traceable way) to this web site.

This is why your ISP knows exactly what you do in the internet, this is any government agency will know where and when you were connected. Furthermore by checking data on those computers you were connected to they will know exactly what you did. Also, if you (for example with the use of P2P network) will connect to a “hoax server”, these are setup by different agencies with parts of software or movies for you to download in order to trace your IP.

So, you think you are just downloading a film (in P2P your computer connects to many different machines without your control) while in reality you download a movie and also you sand data to those you definitely don’t want to know about it.

Using TOR …

Now, we will tell you how that changes with the use of TOR (and VPN). In this case information/request from your computer goes to your ISP server and than from there to the first node of TOR network (TOR client downloads list of nodes/computer from TOR directory). Than information flows between those nodes (selection of those servers always happens at random and they only “know” about nearest servers to them – not the whole route).

After going through few of those computers (this is one of the reasons TOR is always slower than VPN) finally goes to the destination server with web site “X”. Every few minutes and every time you send new request path between you and destination changes at random and because of that (unless you are specifically targeted and someone has lots of resources) you are practically invisible in the internet.

As we have said, because of this architecture of TOR network it is hard to get decent connection speeds. If you watch a movie for 5 minutes it can be great but then route changes and your stream becomes unwatchable.


Before we will tell you latest news in regard of TOR anonymity let us tell you few words about VPN. As in the example above in case of VPN service. Request from your computer gets encrypted, then goes to through ISP server (but since data you send and receive are as we said encrypted ISP cannot easily see what is inside) to VPN server and from there to the destination.

This means that only your VPN provider holds all the data about you and your traffic. For everyday Joe VPN seems like a much better solution. As long as you do not do something considered (internationally) illegal, like children porn, terrorism, etc. your VPN provider will never reveal your data (in many cases they do not even hold those data logs if local legislation does not require that). So, if you just want to surf the web (use p3p/torrents), stream movies that are normally unavailable for you VPN should be the product of choice.

Latest news involving TOR anonymity

OK, now since we are past the differences between TOR, VPN and normal connection to the internet we can tell you about the latest news involving TOR.

French scientists claim they have found a solution to trace user in the TOR network. Here is what they did. They build a miniature TOR network and then, using holes in the TOR software they have prepared a virus. Virus had infected 1/3 of TOR nodes. Remaining TOR servers were attacked using different method in order for them to disconnect them from the network. Once they started to switch of, more and more information were send through still working nodes, most of them which were already infected with virus. Main field of this virus activity was to break data encryption.

This allowed them to create a map of whole TOR network and method they used will aloe form much quicker identification of users using TOR servers. Here you can read TOR comment in this regard.

Since it is impossible to know exactly where truth lies we advise you to take extra precautions.

What do you think about TOR anonymity? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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