The Truth About Tor & What You Need To Know

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Use Tor for privacy and anonymity on the Internet.

Sometimes referred to as the Deepnet, Invisible Web or Hidden Web, the Deep Web is actually part of the Internet that isn’t indexed by search engines. Because the Deep Web isn’t cataloged and because most of  it’s hidden or locked inside databases the size is difficult to measure, but it’s assumed to be significantly larger than the surface web that most of us are more familiar with.

If you’re curious about the Deep Web and want to see what it’s all about then you’ll need to download and install Tor (The Onion Router). For those who are unfamiliar with the Tor network, it’s a software package that helps you anonymously browse the Internet by hiding your source and destination of your traffic. Why would you want to hide this? Mostly because it prevents anyone from seeing what you’re doing or knowing who you are.

Before you embark on your Deep Web journey with Tor here are few things to consider along with some myths to dispel too.

Tor isn’t used only by criminals

Tor isn’t exclusively used by criminals, wrong-doers or up-to-no-gooders. It happens to be used by a much wider and more diverse audience for a variety of different reasons. Journalists and the media access Tor to communicate with and protect their sources. Social and political activist use it to provide anonymity. Average Joes and Janes use it to preserve their privacy and anonymity.

Tor wasn’t developed by the military

Way back in the day Tor’s beginnings were ‘funded’ by the U.S. Navy. Since that time it has been open source and further developed by many contributing security professionals and activists who are dedicated to privacy and anonymity. For anyone concerned about the military having special backdoor access to Tor simply bust out your programming skills and take a look at the source code to put your mind at ease.

Tor doesn’t have slow connections

The instant click-and-show speeds of other Internet connections isn’t part of Tor, but it is much improved (and getting better) because of its developers and Tor users who set-up relays. The relays are what enable Tor to work faster and more efficiently. Read up on Tor relays and how they work if you’re interested in providing one.

Tor isn’t perfect

Just like a chain is only as strong as its weakest link so is Tor. What you put into it and how you use it dictates the level of anonymity and privacy protection that you have. For instance, if you’re using Tor to access Google then you communication can still be seen. Be aware of what you’re logging into use Tor in tandem with other privacy and encryption tools too.

Tor is simple and easy to use

Having a better layer of online privacy doesn’t mean that it has to be complicated. Simply download Tor and you’re done. There’s nothing fancy or complex about it. Using Tor is kinda like accessing a social network that’s just updated its interface. You know what you want and it just takes a moment or two to adjust and familiarize yourself with the layout.

Do you use Tor? What are some of the things you like or don’t like about it?

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Sarah Hartshorn is a marketing, public relations and social media professional with Vuze. She blogs about content, torrents, social media and a number of other tech topics. Sarah has been involved with traditional and digital marketing since 1998.