Monday, February 11, 2013

Help with Tor

Hey, I was wondering if some of you computer whizzes can help me out here.
I had a brief phone conversation with a friend of mine the other day and we talked a little about my problems with my email and texts being monitored and he mentioned looking into Tor for internet security. I didn't want to talk to much over the phone so I was going to wait until we saw each other again before going into too much detail, but I went to the site and got an idea of how it worked and I'm definitely interested in it.
I also saw that with Tor the internet was slower because of the way things were routed and it said there were certain applications you couldn't use like Youtube.
My questions are: Is it just like a separate browser and can you disable it temporarily, like switching from one browser to another? I may want to use it for secure comms, but I also watch videos on my computer and I don't want to fuck that up and I can't afford to buy another computer for everyday stuff.
Any help from Tor users would be appreciated. I know the friend that told me about it can help once we see each other but that's going to be a while yet and my curiosity is up about it.


Anonymous said...

When you download Tor it comes as a bundle with a patch for Firefox that allows you to toggle Tor on and off. I would recommend downloading Privoxy also, it runs in conjunction with Tor to provide better anonymity. Best thing to do would be to learn how to configure your entire system to use these two services, that way your email, instant messaging and everything else will be secure.

As to the speed, sometimes it's slower and sometimes you don't notice any difference at all, depends on the circuit you're on. As for the YouTube thing I can't say for sure as I rarely use Tor for browsing, mainly for email, torrent dl's, instant messaging, things like that. I do know Privoxy is pretty good at blocking a lot of the ads you see on certain sites.

Anonymous said...

Not an expert.

I've fiddle-fucked around with Tor on occasion. It is slower because it bounces your request through different server hosts worldwide thereby supporting anonymity. Using it as such requires zero system resources unless it is being used. You can download it to a thumb drive and run it from there. It can be run as a "portable" application, which is supposed to leave a zero footprint on your system.

Again, not an expert, but done growed thick skin:

I don't think Tor can help with your e-mail problem. There are so many free e-mail services out there that if you are worried, you might set a new one up and only give the address to a chosen few.

When it comes right down to it, I guess it don't matter too much. We've become guilty unless we can afford to suck-ass our way into juris innocence. Even a plate of bacon can't push that bullshit past my craw.

Not an expert. Never a victim.

Fuzzy in AZ said...

Ken, I can't answer your primary question here (but I'm assuming you can enable/disable TOR when you desire). If your system is being monitored, my understanding of TOR is that it isn't going to help you much. TOR doesn't protect or mask the data path between your PC and your only masks from the ISP onward (and back to the ISP)...any fed or state agency that is monitoring your system is already inserted into your ISP (and probably your PC as well) and watching whatever is being delivered to your PC, be it email, websites, videos, whatever.

Randy said...

It comes with a separate browser. I use duckduckgo, which I think is the default browser. No record of visiting those hotbeds of insurgency like ogdaa. ;)

I haven't found it to be much slower. Vids, and some other things, can disable or bypass certain features and could compromise your anonymity. There is a lot more detail on Tor's website.

One thing I have found it useful for is by passing filters. I used it overseas to bypass country filters so I could access news sites and blogs that were otherwise filtered.

Some run it on a thumb drive. I keep in on a thumb drive and a flash card, as well as the hard drive, but I'm a believer in redundancy. The same countries where you need it will also prevent you from downloading it.

Anonymous said...

This will be anonymous, post or not, up to you. I think I can help you somewhat, though.

Yes, Tor is run through a seperate browser than your normal one. You can even watch video through it if you temporarily allow it. It can leak information about your identity though. I recommend installing/running it off a usb drive but you can install/run it off your desktop.

Tails is even better for security, but it is a little more difficult to get set up (maybe your friend can help you with this one).

What you could really use is a public key crypto for for secure comms. This will encrypt your emails between you and someone else. An ally in the liberty community is giving an online class on how to set this up in a few weeks.

Hope this helps.

cryptical said...

You could get a TOR distro on a USB key, boot into a secure environment and then reboot back to your regular desktop.

AnonymousCoward said...

Second the use/ utility of TAILS on a usb drive. It runs Linux from the usb drive, routes all traffic through Tor, and leaves no trace on your machine.

Handy if you want to use someone else's machine, or a public computer as well.

Also second the invite to the online class. This shit's going to be more and more important as time goes on!

Anonymous said...

Ken, I use TOR regularly. You download the TOR browser bundle and use that browser. The first commenter said that you can toggle between TOR and no Tor in Firefox, this is no longer correct. The browser bundle is a streamlined version of Firefox and is a totally separate browser. Read all of the gotchas about using TOR from the website. Do not run scripts or watch videos on it as it will allow the security to be bypassed. I would install it on a USB stick and run it from there. It is a little slower but offers good security.

For email, use

Just go there and register (your real info is not required). It uses your current email address but sends an encrypted message and key to the recipient. Works great.

Anonymous said...

guess I should have mentioned that I use linux, quite different configuring tor and privoxy on this type of system. tor has changed so much since the last time i downloaded it. as near as i can tell you can still download older versions of the program (again, not sure about MS versions), try a few out and see which one works for you, it's far better than nothing.

Ben C said...

A couple of things TOR does not protect/prevent:

If you go to sites that put a tracking cookie on your machine, that cookie remains for the duration of your browsing session.

If you go to log into a site, like say blogger, under your regular credentials you gain nothing. Same applies to logging into a known email account.

You should enable httpS everywhere, this helps prevent or reduce "man-in-the-middle" attacks that can be performed at the point where you exit the TOR web and go back to the site you were headed for.

Not saying TOR isn't pretty useful, but there are limitations to it and it has to be used carefully to take full advantage.

LastBox said...

I'm the guy running the above class - feel free to load up the Tor browser bundle and drop in to our hidden site.

There are often people there on hand that know enough to discuss with you whatever questions you might have.

You may also email me directly. Always willing to help out the right-minded.

Aaron de Bruyn said...

If I recall (I've never used tor), the app shares your internet connection with anonymous users as well.

One potential downfall of this is if one of those anonymous users is downloading material that would interest law enforcement (movies, kiddie porn, etc...).

Like I said, I haven't used tor, so I don't know if it has an option to prevent your machine from being an 'exit node' or not.

A better alternative might be something like a VPN connection to a non-US country that has better privacy laws (like Sweeden).

I'm rather fond of using when I'm doing research on unpopular subjects or viewpoints.