Tor Browser: Tips for browsing anonymously and safely
Everything you need to know about Tor Browser
Tor Browser is a browser developed by a non-profit association founded in 2006. It is the only browser that offers native support for the Tor network and allows access to Onion sites without installing extensions. this platform route navigation traffic of the user to make it anonymous. Similarly, it is an uncensored networkso it is possible to find content of dubious reputation or, directly, illegal.
With the Tor network, you navigate with greater privacy through standard and well-known sites, such as Google, Facebook or Twitter. But it also offers access to portals located in the Deep Web and the Dark Web, represented by the domain or extension .onion. In Spanish, they are known as onion services and offer these advantages:
- The location and IP of these sites is hidden. That makes it difficult for the administration to censor them.
- Traffic between the user and the Onion service is encrypted. The encryption is end-to-end, which makes the HTTPS protocol unnecessary.
- .onion addresses do not have a standard domain. Rather, they are automatically generated, which makes it easy to identify them while at the same time exempting them from buying a regulated domain.
The tor network It is updated from time to time to implement improvements. For example, in its latest version the speed of the platform was substantially improved. This is, historically, one of its weak points.
How to browse the Tor network anonymously
How to browse the Tor network anonymously
With the highlights of the Tor network on the table, it’s time to talk about your privacy-focused browser. In this section, we give you the best tips for configure Tor Browser in order to make it more secure and private.
Getting started in Tor Browser
If you just downloaded Tor Browser and installed it on your computer, go to the start menu to launch it. For our part, we have used the Windows versionalthough everything we tell you is very similar on the rest of the platforms, even on Android.
The first message you will receive in Tor Browser is an invitation to route the browser’s traffic through the Tor network. There it is explained that this infrastructure of anonymity is maintained thanks to thousands of volunteers all over the world. If you check the box Always connect automaticallythis message will not appear again.
Connecting through the Tor network takes a few seconds. The obsession with privacy is such that, by doing so, the browser suggests change language settings and thus complicate things for crawlers.
With the Tor network enabled, the browser will turn purple and offer to locate websites on DuckDuckGo. However, keep in mind that through this network you can access any website, including the almighty Google search engine.
As you will see, by leveraging the Tor network, everything works as expected. Interestingly, DuckDuckGo believes that our optimal region is Germany. Without a doubt, Tor Browser is doing something right in terms of privacy. All the tests that we did later, accessing Google, without going any further, returned us results in this language.
The interface of Tor Browser It is very similar to Firefox. It is not a coincidence, much less a plagiarism. The project has taken advantage of the open nature of Firefox to create a parallel browser, known in English as a fork. So if you have already used the Mozilla browser, use Tor Browser will be a thing for children.
Generate a new identity in Tor Browser
The internet trackers they generate a digital identity based on our browsing and other behavior patterns. If what you want is to improve your privacy and security, Tor Browser helps you by generating new identities from time to time. How?
- Open the main menu.
- click on new identity.
- All sites will be closed and browsing will start again.
Actually, not only the tabs are closed, but the browser is completely restarted. This is reported in the following notice:
Alternatively, it is possible to use the broom button or the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + U to generate a new digital identity.
Improve privacy in Tor Browser
So far we have explained how to give the first steps with Tor Browser and revealed a little trick that will help you restore your identity when navigating. However, in this section we delve into browser settings to show you how to make it more private and secure.
- Select a browser in its Onion version. The browser’s default search engine is DuckDuckGo. If it doesn’t seem private enough, you have its Onion version available. Do it from Preferences > Search. The results will be the same, but your anonymity will increase.
- Prioritize onion services. If there is an Onion equivalent to a web page, Tor Browser is able to load it if you check the Always option under the Onion Services section of the Privacy & Security section.
- Cookie management in Tor Browser. As in all browsers, cookies are tracking elements that it is good to eliminate if the objective is to enjoy greater privacy. You can do it from Privacy & Security, under the heading Cookies and site data.
- Start permanent private browsing mode. If you do, the browser will always load in incognito mode, which records absolutely nothing you do. Also, this setting deletes cookies and site data every time you close your browser.
- Modify the degree of security. The balance between functionality of the sites and privacy is difficult to achieve. For the greatest anonymity, you should ideally block most dynamic elements and cookies. Sure, that will make many websites stop working properly. The levels of security offered by Tor Browser help you find the perfect balance. The Standard grade is perfect for sites to load without errors. On the other hand, the most secure of all (that’s its name, as you can see in the image below) supports the static content of the sites. It is true that it is more secure, but it may prevent you from viewing the images on a website or logging in to it. In any case, you decide!
panel Tor Browser settings looks a lot like firefox. However, in the latter we do not find the tor section, which allows you to manage the connection through the anonymous network. Take a look at the parameters included there to further increase your security and privacy.
Locate Onion Sites
We close this section by talking about Onion sites or onion services. All of them are located in an area of the Internet called the Deep Webie the deep web. This is content that has not been indexed in traditional search engines, such as Google or Bing. Within the Deep Web is located the Dark Weban area considered “dark” that takes advantage of anonymity to carry out illegal activities.
Locating websites in that deep part of the Internet is not as easy as entering keywords into Google. The onion services They are located like this:
- Seeker. There are some specialized search engines that allow you to locate Onion links. For example, one of them is Ahmia.
- direct links. You can find Onion links on technology pages and on social networks.
Remember that it is only possible to access an .onion link with a browser that has compatibility with the Tor network. And the best candidate is none other than Tor Browser.
Alternatives to Tor Browser
Tor Browser is one of the most interesting options when it comes to browsing with privacy. However, in our view, his philosophy of extreme anonymity could undermine your productivity. Among other things, it doesn’t allow you to sync bookmarks or passwords on other devices, it forgets all history and, depending on the degree of security, websites don’t load correctly. So, is there a more balanced alternative in this regard? Here are three suggestions:
- brave. Privacy-focused Chromium browser, with ad and tracker blocker. Allows content to be synced between connected devices over an end-to-end encrypted chain.
- firefox. It is a project of the Mozilla Foundation. It is a standard bearer for privacy and offers content blockers or trackers.
- FreeWolf. A fork of Firefox that blocks all elements that put the user’s privacy at risk. It does not include telemetry and comes with uBlock Origin enabled by default.
All these browsers prioritize privacy on the Internet, although without sacrificing practical features such as synchronization between devices or history record of navigation. Using them together with a VPN is the best way to increase your anonymity on the net.