Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Internet Security, part 1: The Onion Router (Tor)

Teach yourself Tor today. It's easy. The first step towards internet anonymity, privacy and security is using TOR.

  1. Understand Tor:
    https://www.torproject.org/about/overview.html.en Tor, or The Onion Router, is a combination of programs that connect you to the Tor network, and masks you behind several different servers all over the world. It includes the program to connect you to the Tor network and includes a modified version of Firefox designed to work with the network. All in one simple downloadable package that can be installed on practically every platform or OS, including Android.
  2. Understand its weaknesses: It's not perfect, but Tor along with other tools can be about as perfect as you can get. Tor alone will secure and anonymize the communication between you and the server you are connecting to. All anyone can tell is that you're connected to something, and something is connected to a particular server. No one can tell who, or what, is being communicated. That's pretty good. But, the moment you type in a username or a password, that information is logged on the server, and can possibly be recorded on your end. That's where the vulnerabilities lie. Not in Tor itself, but at the end points (or nodes.) All details aside, if no one is snooping on your computer, and you don't enter any identifying information on the resource you're connecting too, no one can know who did what or when. All your ISP sees, is you're connected to the internet. All the server sees is whatever data is being exchanged between them and whoever is connecting to them. 
  3. Understand your rights:  https://www.eff.org/wp/know-your-rights Access to information is a basic right, no matter who you are. This access is guaranteed through Tor through anonymity, because if the information is out there, it can't be block by any arbitrary or authority. ISPs are being pressured by governments, lobbys and other authorities to stop you from accessing information or data they deem to be dangerous, offensive or illegal. Regardless of whether any of that is true, doesn't give them the right to block that information. Because, honestly, an informed decision is dependent on access to all the information that exists.  
  4. Install Tor: https://www.torproject.org/download/download-easy.html.en Tor is easier than ever to install and use. Literally: download, install, click, you're on. 
  5. Change your habits: Don't use your regular accounts. Create new, anonymous accounts on whatever internet resources you access, and use and ONLY use those accounts when on Tor. The moment you log in without using Tor, you have compromised that account. 

That's about it for now. Visit https://prism-break.org/ for other internet tools, such as email, chat and VOIP. Some use Tor as a basis, some don't need it. 

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