Tor is a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet. It also enables software developers to create new communication tools with built-in privacy features. Tor provides the foundation for a range of applications that allow organizations and individuals to share information over public networks without compromising their privacy.
Individuals use Tor to keep websites from tracking them and their family members, or to connect to news sites, instant messaging services, or the like when these are blocked by their local Internet providers. Tor’s hidden services let users publish web sites and other services without needing to reveal the location of the site. Individuals also use Tor for socially sensitive communication: chat rooms and web forums for rape and abuse survivors, or people with illnesses.
You can download Tor from here. Do note this message though –
…then please don’t just install it and go on. You need to change some of your habits, and reconfigure your software! Tor by itself is NOT all you need to maintain your anonymity. There are several major pitfalls to watch out for:
- Tor only protects Internet applications that are configured to send their traffic through Tor — it doesn’t magically anonymize all your traffic just because you install it. We recommend you use Firefox with the Torbutton extension.
- Browser plugins such as Java, Flash, ActiveX, RealPlayer, Quicktime, Adobe’s PDF plugin, and others can be manipulated into revealing your IP address. You should probably uninstall your plugins (go to “about:plugins” to see what is installed), or investigate QuickJava, FlashBlock, and NoScript if you really need them. Consider removing extensions that look up more information about the websites you type in (like Google toolbar), as they may bypass Tor and/or broadcast sensitive information. Some people prefer using two browsers (one for Tor, one for unsafe browsing).
- Beware of cookies: if you ever browse without Tor and Privoxy and a site gives you a cookie, that cookie could identify you even when you start using Tor again. You should clear your cookies frequently. CookieCuller can help protect any cookies you do not want to lose.
- Tor anonymizes the origin of your traffic, and it encrypts everything inside the Tor network, but it can’t encrypt your traffic between the Tor network and its final destination. If you are communicating sensitive information, you should use as much care as you would on the normal scary Internet — use HTTPS or other end-to-end encryption and authentication.
- While Tor blocks attackers on your local network from discovering or influencing your destination, it opens new risks: malicious or misconfigured Tor exit nodes can send you the wrong page, or even send you embedded Java applets disguised as domains you trust.