Why surf encrypted and anonymously? If your Internet traffic runs unencrypted and without masking the IP address that can be assigned to you, this may have the following disadvantages:
On the one hand, eavesdroppers on the line, the same network or persons using WLAN as well as your Internet provider can very easily observe and save which Internet pages you are accessing.
On the other hand, website providers and their technical service providers, such as Google Analytics, can use your unique IP address to find out your identity and thus create a personal profile about you.
In the case of journalists, website providers may be able to easily learn about sensitive research through the fixed IP address often assigned to the editorial office, the publisher or the television station. In addition, politically unpleasant searches can make you a suspect of terrorism.
Anonymisation with Tor
- For this reason, encryption and anonymization of page views via the Tor anonymization network are ideal, which can also be used to overcome technical censorship measures.
- Your page requests are not sent directly and in plain text with their IP address to the provider, but encrypted over several computers distributed worldwide.
- Only the last computer in the chain, the so-called exit node, then retrieves the desired page.
From this point on, this is usually done unencrypted, but with the IP address of the exit node and, because of the preceding nodes, which only know the previous and subsequent nodes, with an unknown recipient.
Dangers when using Tor
When Tor is used, content is transmitted anonymously, but is no longer encrypted from the exit node, which may be a listening node. This means that no one knows who is accessing or communicating, but in some places it can be seen what content a transmission contains.
If you do not only retrieve freely accessible pages, but also transfer confidential information such as access data or communication on your part, this should not happen in the WWW without additional HTTPS encryption.
This applies in particular to personal login data such as usernames and passwords and when retrieving and sending e-mails, chatting or instant messaging, which should never happen without SSL encryption, particularly since such data not only allow permanent access to the protected areas, but may also reveal your identity.
Warnings regarding false SSL certificates, which point to so-called “man in the middle” attacks by eavesdroppers, must not simply be ignored!
You remain identifiable via cookies despite anonymous IP. That’s why Torbutton deactivates the cookies that have been collected so far. However, Firefox will start collecting all the cookies it has collected from that moment on in the anonymous surfing session based on the IP address.
Therefore, please note that, despite using the Torbutton, you must execute “Delete Extras / Private Data” in Firefox before each access to a page on which you log in and immediately after each logout from such pages, before you continue surfing!
Otherwise, the previous and subsequent Tor surfing sessions, including any further logins, may be assigned to the often personal login, even if not to your IP address!
Otherwise, the Flash player also carries the corresponding dangers (Flash cookies) if you do not want to do without Tor when surfing via Tor and have therefore deactivated the temporary deactivation of extensions and plug-ins on the Tor button.
No 100% security
As with all other protective measures, the same applies here: There is no 100% security.
In situations in which the use of an anonymizer is sufficient to put you at risk, it must be clear that (as long as your communication partner or, in the case of websites, the remote peer is not monitored at the same time and it is not possible to correlate the amount of data to determine which packets went from whom to where) your line is not always directly visible, where you send what to or where data comes from, but how much and when you send or receive.
For many Linux distributions, ready-made packages with Tor are available that can be installed with relatively little effort:
- Anonymous surfing with Debian GNU/Linux
- Anonymous surfing with Ubuntu Linux
Under Windows, however, setting up all the necessary components and interlocking them correctly is still somewhat complicated for laypersons, which is why Windows users can use the very easy to set up, ready-made package.
If you don’t always have a fixed PC at your disposal or don’t want to leave any traces not only on the network but also on the local PC, you can use the Privatix Live System or the Tails – The Amnesic Incognito Live System, which has been developed mainly for this purpose and is therefore even more secure, on your own PC or on another PC without any installation and independent of its operating system.