Anonymity is Important

Let’s begin with something useful.

In order to use Tor, you ideally need a browser that can access it. The Tor Browser on desktop platforms, formerly known as the Tor Browser Bundle, and the Orfox Browser with the Orbot app on Android are the suggested browsers. Why? Tor takes anonymity seriously.

The four log entries below are from 4 browsers that are using Tor.

Brave:
127.0.0.1 - - [10/Nov/2018:12:56:19 +0000] "GET /favicon.ico HTTP/1.1" 404 209 "http://irvdwucxcq6kb2nm.onion/" "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/70.0.3538.77 Safari/537.36"
Firefox:
127.0.0.1 - - [10/Nov/2018:13:00:58 +0000] "GET /favicon.ico HTTP/1.1" 404 152 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:62.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/62.0"
Tor Browser
127.0.0.1 - - [10/Nov/2018:12:57:27 +0000] "GET /favicon.ico HTTP/1.1" 404 152 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; rv:60.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/60.0"
Orfox
127.0.0.1 - - [10/Nov/2018:13:04:53 +0000] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 396 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (Android; Mobile; rv:52.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/52.0"

The first log entry is from the Brave browser (https://www.brave.com) which has Tor built in into their Private Window mode. This is a really neat concept, but you gain a lot of information about the person using this browser and that makes them stand out. You can see which website that I am trying to access. You can see that I am running 64-bit Linux. You can also see that I am running a browser based on Chrome. None of these things tell you exactly who I am but they fingerprint me as someone who stands out. The goal of anonymity is it blend in with the rest of the internet.

The second entry is normal unmodified Firefox running on Tor. This is a little better. It almost completely matches the entry for Tor Browser, except that it gives away my operating system and it is a not running the same version as the Tor Browser.

I didn’t change to a Windows PC to test the Tor Browser, all versions will always report the same information. It will always report that it is being used in Window since it is the most widely used operating system. It’s important to keep it up to date not only to apply bugfixes but to keep in line with all of the rest of the Tor Browser users.

The final entry is for Orfox. Yes, you can see that I am running it on Android as it is based on the Firefox app for Android. This is a bit of a negative. Preferably you would want it to appear to be the same as the normal Tor browser but there is probably a trade off. All copies of Orfox, no matter the device or version of Android, should look the same. However in order to get mobile versions of websites suitable for a mobile device, the browser needs to identify itself as a mobile browser. We’ll discuss more about fingerprinting in a later chapter.

Installing The Tor Browser

We’ll do this in four parts for Windows, Linux, Mac, and Android users.

Windows

  1. Go to: https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en
  2. Download the latest version for Windows
  3. Run the installer
  4. You will now see a new folder on your Desktop. Open that and run Tor Browser.
  5. Click Connect
  6. Congrats, you are on Tor!
  7. Go to https://check.torproject.org/ in the Tor Browser

Linux

  1. Go to: https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en
  2. Download the latest version for Linux
  3. Open a command line
  4. Unzip the application. Replace xxxxxx with the current version that you downloaded

tar -xvJf tor-browser-linux64-xxxxxx.tar.xz

  1. You will now see a new folder. Open that and run Tor Browser.

cd tor-browser_en

  1. Run the application

./start-tor-browser.desktop

  1. Click Connect
  2. Congrats, you are on Tor!
  3. Go to https://check.torproject.org/ in the Tor Browser

Mac

  1. Go to: https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en
  2. Download the latest version for Mac
  3. Run the installer
  4. You will now see a new folder on your Desktop. Open that and run Tor Browser.
  5. Click Connect
  6. Congrats, you are on Tor!
  7. Go to https://check.torproject.org/ in the Tor Browser

Android

  1. Go to the app store and download the following two apps: Orfox and Orbot. Both are from The Tor Project. Orbot is the Tor service. Orfox is the Android implementation of the Tor Browser. There are many “Dark Web” and “Onion” android apps and many of them are bogus and may steal your data or are just scams.
  2. Start Orbot and connect to the Tor network.
  3. Start Orfox
  4. Go to https://check.torproject.org/ in Orfox.

 

 

We Do It For the Children

I’m staying in a hotel chain in London only to find a firewall that throttles interesting stuff like BBC iPlayer and YouTube. I tried going to my VPN provider. That the website is blocked to protect children and vulnerable people. What?! Meanwhile I have no trouble connecting to #4chan because they only care so much about children.

Untitled

Of course Tor is blocked also, well for other people, I got it to work anyway and now I’m writing this using it out of spite.

If I give them the benefit of the doubt, I would say that they want to keep bandwidth usage down and the best way to do that is to throttle big streaming websites and they want to close loopholes by blocking ways around that.

However the explanation kills me: to help keep children and vulnerable people safe. So this provider says that they want to help make the internet a better place by taking away the anonymity of trolls and online creeps? That makes no sense. Why even provide have internet access at all? I think the real case is above, they need to cut bandwidth costs and that’s fine but leave the nonsensical rhetoric out of it.