Introduction to Tor Browser, Anonymity and Other Browsers
Most of you may have heard about the Google Chrome browser, Opera, the Mozilla Firefox and the likes of it. But hardly anyone of you may have heard about the infamous and the dark Tor Browser. So, what exactly is it? Its not famous among people who are happy with their day-to-day chores.
But are a specific set of people or as I would say the better phrase would be A totally different world where people use Tor Browser as their day-to-day browser. What are its specifics? How does it differ from Chrome or Mozilla? Is it user friendly?
Does it have loads of services inbuilt as similar to that of Chrome? Does it come with built-in flash player and incognito tabs or the private browsing like Firefox or the Opera? The answer is NO! Frankly speaking, it is no-where near the term user-friendly.
It doesnt have any features like Google Chrome. Its not highly customizable like the Mozilla Firefox. As a matter of fact its extremely slow when compared to Chrome or Firefox. Then what is it that makes Tor Browser extremely famous among people with high curiosity? Let’s take a deeper look into that.
First of all, tor browser is not user-friendly. If you are thinking of using it as a daily-usage browser, then you probably should stick to Mozilla Firefox(and NOT CHROME). The main reason for that is because tor is slow. WAIT! Thats not the only reason. Actually, the main reason is that its highly volatile. Yes.
Tor Browser is an open source browser which was built especially for anonymity. Anything you do using the Tor Browser stays anonymous. In fact, it actually it bounces off your ip address through several servers over the world before reaching the particular spot you searched for. Following is a screenshot taken for the ip address of what my computer shows when using a tor browser.
Image Source: torproject.org
Yes. It routed my ip address all across the globe before getting connected to the internet. Besides, if you even want to change the ip address, then you can straight away click on the New Identity and your last connection point will change which will change your ip address. Else, if you want a totally new circuit, you can even do that which will change all the routed ip addresses of the countries as well.
Tor Browser vs Google Chrome vs Mozilla Firefox vs Opera
Following are the comparisons:
1. Opera Mini
Firstly, opera is almost similar to that of Google Chrome. May it be looks, or feature wise. But I would straight away discard Opera here, the main reason being its a closed source browser. It doesnt mean its not secure. As a matter of fact it is, but since its a closed source browser, we don’t know whats happening behind the scenes. So, I will straight away discard it here.
2. Google and Privacy
The next one is Google Chrome. Everyone’s most favorite browser of all time. The most secured browser. Is it? Is it really true. Nah! I don’t think so. Let me give you an example in the old fashioned way. Lets say you are going out for dinner one evening, and you have an extremely big house with loads of security features built-in like cameras, motion detectors, automated alarms and reinforced security doors and stuff.
But you are still paranoid. So, would you give your keys to a renowned thief(just because he knows all the flaws) thinking that he would keep it more secure? Obviously not. But thats what we are doing with Google Chrome and all its stuff. First thing, anything once on internet, is always on internet. Second thing.
Google is the master in storing these stuff and that too even without you knowing that. Don’t believe me? Follow the below steps, and see what you get:
- Login to your Gmail id from Chrome.
- Click the profile picture or the extreme top-right and click on My Account. You will see a page similar to this:
Image Source: google.com
- Click on ‘Your Personal info’
- Now here, you may want to check all the list of things, but to be specific, check the first tab: Your searches and browsing activity.
It is enabled by default. Once you open this, you will see all the stuff you browsed or searched for including the passwords and everything from the day you created your account till today. Yes, it will keep all the records from the day you created your account, may it be 2 years ago or a decade ago.
Even if you delete everything, the content stored on the Google server will still not get deleted. The question here is why does Google need to keep all of this data? So much Data from each and every person on the web. So, here is what my previous example suggested. It doesn’t matter how much secure the Google Browser is, if Google itself is the Keeper and the Robber.
People often won’t change the browser even after knowing this stating: “Its okay if Google knows everything, atleast there should be someone keeping tabs on everyone.” Then here is my question for that. “So you know me right? Atleast a little? Then why don’t you give ME your password. I will keep it secure I promise.” The people just fray away when I say this.
Which means, people are ready to give in all their life details to some random person who is working at Google but not to known people. So much for absolute security here. Beside, people have so many things shared on google plus, drive, keeper notes, gmail contacts, synchronized play store and stuff.
The final impact of this becomes like a drug to an addict. You may wish to leave it, but you can’t inspite of knowing everything. Because socializing is more important to people that privacy, which is the ultimate reason for their accounts to get hacked. Just think, what would happen if some random person hacks into your account.
He/she (the hacker) would know each and everything about your life. This will ultimately lead to identity theft. Beside, if some person has physical access to your computer, or even your browser, then there is a 99% possibility that he has access to eveything. Try to do this:
- Open your Chrome browser
- Click on the settings tab on top-right side which seems like a three-line button
- Click on settings, and search passwords in the search box.
- It will show you a manage passwords tab right below. Click on that and lo and behold. Here are all your passwords you ever saved knowingly or unknowingly.
3. What about Mozilla? They say it’s Secure
Have you heard the quote, “Everything you hear is not true”? Nope. I am not cursing Mozilla here. Firefox is trying its best to keep up with the latest goofed up security. Its atleast honest when its says that its private browing as compared to Google Chrome.
If you want a decent day-to-day browser which doesnt keep a track of all your records, I would say mozilla is good. It has loads of customization. Its fast than Tor, if not from Google.
The least possible configuration a noob person can do, is install Firefox, change the search engine to Startpage or Duckduckgo which is absolutely anonymous and doesnt keep a track of search records. Keep a Master password to save all your passwords so that even if someone gets physical access to your browser, they will still wont be able to capture it.
But the downside here is, the government can still track you down since your are using your own ip address here instead like Tor where you bounce off multiple locations.
4. Tor Browser
So now the question is, is Tor Browser really that secure? Actually, there is no specific answer to that. It depends on how you configure it. If you are done with tor browser download, you can check the following.
Click on the Onion logo on the Tor browser and the select Privacy and Security settings. Then you will be presented with the below window:
Image Source: torproject.org
Here, you can set the level of security as you want. Besides, this is not the only configuration you can do. There is also a tab for enabling https everywhere on the upper right hand side of the browser. Its an add-on from the HTTPS EVERYWHERE site, which is by default installed on Tor. Want the highest level of security, where no government, and no MITM would suffice? Here, is how you could do that:
- Set Security Settings on Privacy setting to High.
- Enable Https Everywhere.
- Use DuckDuckGo as the search engine(its my personal choice, you can even use Startpage or ixquick or Disconnect which is tor’s official)
- Use Proxy Address binded with Tor
- Use a VPN from other country which does not have legal bindings with your country.
Yes. This is one of the best possible way. But on a lighter note, we actually don’t need this much. Its only for those Vigilant Hackers and Protestors who would use these kind of techniques to keep themselves safe. But hey, who knows? Paranoia is the key to utmost security.
There is much more to Tor Browser than what I have written in this blog. I haven’t even commented about the deep web and risks involved in Tor web. But this would suffice to get you started, or atleast as an advice to stay away from Google and all its products which are not open-source.
There is one more browser which is worth looking i.e. Iceweasal browser which comes inbuilt with Kali Linux or the WHONIX Operating system which relies solely on Tor circuit for all its web based activities from browsing to downloading stuff. Stay updated with my blogs for more on Privacy, Security and Anonymity.
First Image Source: torproject.org
Here are some articles that will help you to get more detail about the Tor Browser, Anonymity and Other Browsers so just go through the link.