We may earn a commission when you make a purchase via links on this site.

What is the Tor Browser? Is the “Dark Web Browser” Safe?

By Tibor Moes / September 2022

What is the Tor Browser? Is the “Dark Web Browser” Safe?

What is the Tor Browser?

You can’t explore the web without a browser, and the same goes for the dark web. Therefore, you need to download a compatible platform to explore this uncharted area of the internet, and the most popular option is the Tor browser.

However, since the dark web is notorious for its illegal content, you’re probably wondering: “Is the Tor browser safe to use?” You might also assume that this program is different from other browsers.

This article will discuss both aspects. We’ll explain the Tor browser in-depth and determine if it’s safe.

Summary:

 

  • The tor browser is a privacy-focused web browser. It blocks third-party trackers, prevents browser fingerprinting, and deletes the cookies and browsing history when you’re done surfing. On top of that, it relays and encrypts your data three times via the Onion Network.
  • All of these efforts combined greatly improve your privacy, which makes the browser popular with whistleblowers and activists.
  • In principle, the Tor browser is safe. However, the servers in the Onion network through which it routs your data, are voluntarily created by its anonymous users. So these could be dangerous. Therefore, many users of the Tor browser combine it with a VPN.
  • Finally, the dark web doesn’t use regular website URLs that work via the DNS system. Instead, the dark web uses onion URLs. To open these, you need to use the Tor browser or re-configure your regular browser.

Tip: Most users of the Tor browser combine it with a VPN service for extra security and privacy. We recommend you do the same. And while you’re at it, consider investing in antivirus software to protect your devices from malware and hackers.

How Does Tor Work?

The Tor browser can be used on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Tor works on some smartphones, too. If you’re a PC user, you can find the browser on the Tor project website.

Tor works by utilizing the onion routing project. This technology is a P2P overlay network, enabling you to browse the web anonymously. It features multi-layered encryption to hide a packet’s source and destination. As a result, nobody can compromise your online privacy because they can’t see the information that passes through the Tor network.

Once you install Tor and set up the system, the browser uses Tor proxy servers to dispatch information to an exit node (the point where information exits the network). After sending the data, it goes through several layers of encryption before traveling to another node. As this process is repeated multiple times, tracing back the traffic to its source is incredibly difficult.

That’s not the only obstacle. Namely, Tor doesn’t store cookies or browsing history, which is similar to using a standard browser in incognito mode.

When you open the Tor browser, you might be greeted in a foreign language, but don’t be alarmed. The program generally hides users’ real IP addresses, which is why you appear to be in a different location.

If you’re in a country that prohibits Tor or want to access a web service that bans Tor, you might have trouble using the browser. The good news is that you can configure it to incorporate bridges. Unlike the entry and exit nodes, these bridges are IP addresses that aren’t listed publicly. Therefore, governments and services struggle to blacklist them.

The Tor network supports transmission control traffic protocol and is streamlined for various types of browsing activity. That said, it doesn’t support user datagram protocol, so avoid downloading free software because this function is off-limits.

What Are Tor Circuits?

Tor provides anonymity by transporting information through circuits. These integral components of the Tor network combine entry/guard relays, middle relays, directory relays, and exit relays. Some systems also include bridge nodes, but only if an organization or government blocks entry and exit relays. The other name for relays is nodes.

Here’s a quick overview of these Tor relays.

Entry/Guard Relays

As the name suggests, entry relays serve as gateways to the network. Anyone who wants to access Tor first needs to establish a link to its guard node. The available guard nodes are listed in public Tor nodes and are generally updated once every 60 seconds.

Guard relays are mostly fixed. You can try to change your circuit, but you can’t alter these components because the system is designed to thwart anonymity-breaking maneuvers.

Middle Relays

Most of your Tor circuit is made up of middle relays. These points transport encrypted data. They display themselves to exit and guard nodes, allowing you to connect to the network and transmit information.

Even if an attacker uses a middle relay to infect the system with malicious traffic, it’s not responsible for the intrusion. It’s neither the origin nor the destination of the files.

Exit Relays

These are the last relays in Tor circuits. They send data to its destination and are usually to blame for cyberattacks.

This might sound counterintuitive, but systems usually perceive exit nodes as the traffic origin. As a result, most legal notices and complaints are directed at exit relays. Governments and organizations often want to take them down to combat cybercriminals.

If a user wants to host end nodes on their system, they must be prepared to handle complex issues, such as legal matters and DMCA notices. In addition, they need to know how to implement advanced security settings and own dedicated IP addresses.

Bridge Relays

Bridge nodes aren’t listed on publicly available Tor nodes. This sets them apart from entry and exit relays, which can be accessed by most internet users, making them easily targetable by organizations and governments.

If someone wants to restrict Tor usage, they need to set up comprehensive filters. For instance, China has prohibited publicly available relays on its country-level firewall.

Bridge relays help prevent this scenario. As they’re not listed, governments can’t locate and ban them. The only problem is that creating a bridge relay is complex. The process requires special configuration settings, which can only be performed if you have a vast knowledge of the network.

Directory Relays

Tor’s network is managed and tracked by nine trusted servers. In 2019, these servers were renamed to directory nodes, each of which is operated by different organizations.

The reason why the nodes are run by separate organizations is to distribute trust. Tor’s integrity hinges on the correctness and honesty of directory relays. Hence, making the network more resilient through trust distribution is imperative.

Directory nodes include lists of currently active relays. Every hour, they establish a consensus to ensure all clients have the same information about Tor’s relays.

Whenever a customer or another node wants to examine the condition of the Tor network, they need to ask the relevant directory node. This makes them essential for troubleshooting and enhancing security.

How Do Organizations and Governments Restrict Tor Usage?

Organizations and governments may sometimes decide to block or monitor Tor usage. However, the browser can’t be blocked completely due to bridge nodes. Still, these relays didn’t stop institutions from trying to discover and prohibit the network.

Here’s how they can limit Tor usage:

  • Block publicly available nodes.

  • Set up application filters in firewalls for approved networks that use proxy services (this can also be implemented with intrusion detection systems and SIEM applications).

  • Create SSL decryption policies on IPS/IDS or firewalls to decode SSL certificates or detect traffic on Tor-hosted websites.

  • Configure IDS filters and firewalls to monitor traffic on ports 9003 and 9001.

Implementing the above methods blocks Tor usage, but only to a certain extent. Besides bridge nodes, attempts to limit access to the network can be deterred by VPNs and advanced configurations.

Is Tor Browser Legal to Use for the Dark Web?

The dark web is the part of the internet search engines can’t index. It features numerous websites, marketplaces, and forms that require special software.

Keep in mind that the dark web isn’t the same as the deep web. It’s just a fraction of deep web and a hub for criminal activity. The deep web contains all unindexed data, ranging from everything on the dark web to random Google forms you shared with friends.

Although anyone can visit the public or surface web, the dark web is mostly private. So, you don’t disclose your actual IP address when exploring this internet region. This makes it more secure, but it’s also why many criminals use the dark web to perform illicit activities.

The unique onion routing system makes Tor browser anonymous, allowing people to access generally unrestricted sections of the internet. They enjoy their online safety, concealing their identity when engaging in illegal actions.

Nevertheless, people don’t use the Tor browser for unlawful acts only. Politicians, journalists, the military, and other groups use it to communicate. Whistleblowers also use it to disclose information they couldn’t provide otherwise. Plus, citizens of oppressive countries depend on Tor to circumvent censorship and post opinions that would lead to bans if published through regular browsers.

How Do You Install Tor?

You can download the Tor Browser from various websites, but the safest option is to get the program from the official website. Additionally, try not to change window size while surfing the web to avoid browser fingerprinting. The FBI and advertisers use this method to track online behavior.

The process of installing Tor on your Windows or Mac PC:

  1. Navigate to Tor’s download page.

  2. Choose your desired installer.

  3. Open your installation file and select your language.

  4. Complete the installation and make sure Tor is in your “Applications” or “Apps & features” section, depending on your OS.

Once the browser is installed, you’ll be able to configure or connect it. If you’re using the program in a restrictive location or network, press the former. In turn, the browser will ask if your region censors it or if you’re running a proxy server. It should help you configure your pluggable transport.

If you don’t have any restrictions, you can select “connect” to start browsing with Tor immediately.

The download and installation process is similar for Linux users:

  1. Go to FlatHub and download your Linux Tor launcher.

  2. Locate your downloads folder and open the file.

  3. Wait for the OS to install the browser.

  4. Configure or connect to Tor, depending on your area’s restrictions. 

You shouldn’t have trouble downloading and installing Tor on your Android device either:

  1. Open your current browser and go to Tor’s official web page.

  2. Follow the on-screen prompts to download the page. You’ll be instructed to visit the Google Play Store.

  3. Choose the “Install” button to add the browser to your phone.

  4. Connect to the browser and start exploring the dark web.

Is Tor Safe?

You can safely download and use Tor on your operating system if you’re a proficient internet user. You should also consider downloading this browser if your freedom of speech is limited. You might not have any other way of voicing your opinion, so using the dark web browser makes sense.

The Tor browser offers multiple security levels. There’s the default element upgraded with two advanced levels. Each gives you a unique defense mechanism, with the most reliable protection provided at the final level.

Here’s what your browsing activity looks like at each level:

  • Level 1 – This is the default layer. It’s where Tor is at its most convenient, enabling you to use it, even with limited knowledge. The downside is that this setting is the least secure.

  • Level 2 – This level gives you more security, but the experience is sluggish. For instance, JavaScript-based pages may be slower because the setting deactivates JavaScript on non-HTTPS sites.

  • Level 3- The final level is the most secure Tor setting. However, it blocks JavaScript, as well as some images and fonts on all web pages. 

What Are the Advantages of Tor?

There are many reasons people use Tor. Configured correctly, it offers an extra layer of security to your browsing activity. It’s an open-source platform, meaning its software can be peer-reviewed and publicly scrutinized. As a result, developers can consistently improve the performance of the platform, address safety issues, and resolve bugs.

Moreover, Tor’s open-source nature contributes to its transparency. If someone places encryption backdoors in the program’s backend, the elements should be available for analysis. This way, administrators can take the safety of the system to the next level.

Additionally, Tor’s free software has opened the public’s eyes to the numerous risks associated with the internet. Engineers have improved upon these problems to make the web much safer.

The Tor browser offers many other benefits:

Randomized IP Addresses and Three-layer Encryption

The primary role of Tor is to enable users to explore the web anonymously. Like VPNs, the platform provides this through traffic encryption and changing the IP address.

But that’s where the similarities end. Unlike VPNs, Tor features a randomized server network to prevent others from controlling the server’s location.

Your information also receives additional servers, allowing your IP address to bounce from one location to another every 10 minutes. Since Tor exit nodes only recognize the servers directly next to them, the route of your data can’t be reverse engineered through Onion sites. 

The randomized IP address and three-layer encryption play a pivotal role in counteracting oppressive regimes. It lets people access legitimate dark web content, like political forums and news websites. This is why Tor is an all-important tool for unlocking web pages on regulated networks and in censored countries.

You Can Legally Use Tor Practically Anywhere

The Tor browser is legal in most nations, but some places have blocked or banned it to enforce censorship. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia, Turkey, and Belarus are some of these countries. China also prohibits Tor connections to keep users from bypassing their Great Firewall.

If you’re a citizen of one of these nations, you can use the Tor browser and access Onion sites via bridges. These Tor relays aren’t listed in public directories. As a consequence, governments have a hard time blocking access because they can’t identify all entry and exit nodes.

Alternatively, consider coupling Tor with a VPN. Connecting to remote servers first lets you bypass censorship and reach the Tor network with a fake IP address.

Decentralized Servers

Accessing internet traffic with a VPN is largely safe, but there are some major risks. More specifically, these platforms reroute your data to a single server. The server is privately owned, meaning the company can check your browsing activity and IP address.

This limits your online safety, whether you’re using your VPN on a PC or android device. If a provider records your traffic, governments can compel the company to disclose the information.

In contrast, Tor uses a community-based network. It depends on a decentralized network operated by volunteers. Hence, the servers can’t access your identity or activities. Your information is less likely to end up in the hands of third parties.

What Are the Limitations of Tor?

Using Tor to exercise your internet freedom and access geo-restricted content can be a great idea, but proceed with caution. The dark web browser has some limitations:

It’s Not Completely Private

Stealth web surfing is the main reason people download Tor. Anonymous activity is guaranteed because the entry and exit nodes can’t access both your IP address and traffic. Accordingly, your online activity and identity in the Tor network can’t be revealed simultaneously.

Tor also offers better privacy restrictions than regular browsers like Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome (e.g., DNS over HTTPS). It hides your location, and the ISP can’t track traffic efficiently.

Although the browser is anonymous, it’s not private. Personal IP addresses are still visible to guard nodes, and the traffic can be spotted by certain exit nodes. Theoretically, owners of exit nodes can spy on you despite not knowing who the internet traffic belongs to.

Another potential problem is that some groups can detect a portion of your activity. Compromised exit nodes and data leaks enable malicious actors or spies to de-anonymize your traffic.

DNS and IP Address Leaks

Speaking of leaks, people can easily get their hands on your information if you’re not careful. In other words, using Tor like a standard browser is a surefire way to leak your data. Normal surfing reduces your protection, allowing various actors to reveal your identity.

If you wish to avoid DNS and IP address leaks, refrain from the following activities:

  • Installing extensions

  • Opening and downloading files

  • Downloading torrent programs

  • Activating JavaScript

Each can potentially reroute traffic from Tor to an external platform or keep data that can compromise you within your browser.

Another mistake you should avoid is opening HTTP sites. They don’t directly reveal the IP address, but they expose you to surveillance. The reason is simple – HTTP pages use less advanced encryption than HTTPS.

Compromised Exit Nodes

Exit nodes are the weaker points in the onion encrypting process. They’re commonly used to surveil criminals and play a crucial role in so-called man-in-the-middle attacks. When people utilize exit nodes to exploit someone’s network, they’re referred to as malicious nodes.

Although the Tor network encrypts your traffic during its journey, it’s vulnerable when passing through exit nodes. This enables the operator of the final server to examine your activity. This process is similar to what ISP exploits when you don’t protect your surfing with a VPN.

Your anonymity isn’t necessarily undermined, as exit nodes can’t detect your real IP address. But if you access a Facebook page or email account that leads to your identity, the operator can observe your moves and expose your identity.

Thus, don’t be reckless when surfing the internet on the Tor network. Many exit nodes can be malicious, and some people are waiting for you to make a mistake.

Malware Can Spread to Your Computer or Android Devices

You can open Tor to reach dark web pages inaccessible to regular browsers. This puts you at risk of viruses and other malware if you’re not being careful.

To make matters worse, the dark web is chock-full of malicious actors. They infect countless websites in this region with malware or scripts that can enter your device if you go to an unsecured page.

Port forwarding is one gateway for malware delivery. In particular, agents can use open ports to infiltrate and hack your device. Once they enter the network, they can leave all sorts of malware.

Here’s how hackers can use port forwarding:

  1. You click on an unsecured website.

  2. The platform scans your device for available open ports.

  3. Each port receives a message, enabling hackers to identify exploitable ports.

  4. Malicious actors enter your system, insert malware, and can access your financial or personal information.

The results can be devastating, ranging from losing money and access to accounts to a tarnished online and offline reputation or even identity theft.

Reduced Safety on Some Smartphones  

PC Tor users can use the browser on their Android devices after downloading it from the Google Play Store. If you’re cautious, you don’t face any greater risks than when exploring the browser’s desktop version. As a result, you shouldn’t have trouble downloading and installing Tor safely.

Unfortunately, iOS users will need to dig a little deeper. Tor isn’t officially available on this platform, but they can rely on the Onion browser to reach the Tor network.

It’s another open-source app that typically works great. However, using Tor on your iPad or iPhone is less safe because you can’t disable JavaScript completely. This lowers your privacy since JavaScript can store cookies and browsing activity and share personal information with third parties.

So, avoid using the dark web browser on an iPhone. The Android version is much safer.

Greater Surveillance Without VPNs

Government authorities know Tor is the go-to option for accessing the dark web. They can go to great lengths to prevent criminal activity on the Tor network.

But criminals aren’t the only people authorities keep an eye on. You can get on their radar, too, if you use Tor regularly.

If you’re not connected to your VPN, the connection to the Tor network is visible to your provider. In turn, authorities may command them to disclose the information, putting you at risk of de-anonymization.

Additionally, guard nodes can check out your IP address if you don’t use a VPN. Consequently, your personal and financial information can reach other people if you access sites that expose you to data leaks.

That’s not to say that VPN connections eliminate the risk of cyberattacks and spies. There are chances of losing your anonymity, but other people are less likely to discover your identity if you connect to a VPN.

Windows Vulnerabilities Can Be Exploited

Tor is designed for anonymity and slightly higher privacy online, but Windows isn’t. Even if you’re cautious and accessing the web through the dark web browser, your operating system can expose you to the public eye. It notifies Microsoft about your activity by default, which can reveal your identity.

There have been several vulnerabilities, but the most famous one took place in 2013. Certain actors used JavaScript limitations to collect personal information from numerous Windows users, effectively terminating their anonymity.

Hence, consider switching to Linux if you need to explore the dark web. It’s a safer alternative with robust software to enhance your privacy. For instance, Whonix and Tails are two of the most widely used tools for improving online privacy. These Linux variants have been optimized for Tor, promising high performance and safety.

Don’t forget about VPNs, either. Regardless of your Linux variant, always protect your internet surfing with a high-quality VPN.

Tips for Using Tor Safely

People rarely pay attention to their browsing habits, including PC, Android, and iOS users. If this applies to you, you need to change it if you plan on installing Tor. The dark web is a repository of malicious links that can easily infect your device if you’re not careful.

Here are a few tips to stay safe while using the dark web browser:

Don’t Share Personal Information

The most common way people get caught while browsing with Tor is by sharing personal information on the dark web. This can happen to you if you do the following activities on suspicious websites:

  • Accessing or using personal email addresses.

  • Using the same usernames.

  • Paying with credit or debit cards.

  • Not browsing with your anonymous persona.

The final mistake subsumes the rest. Hence, if you want to use Tor properly, you need to create and stick to your anonymous persona.

Moreover, set up a temporary email address and complete transactions using anonymous cryptocurrencies. Once you’re done browsing, delete your accounts and other information, so it can’t be traced back to you.

Update the System Regularly

The Tor browser is only as safe as your operating system because it’s just another piece of software. If you’re using an outdated OS, third parties can exploit numerous loopholes to break your shield and access your information. If an attacker figures out the OS you’re using, Tor can no longer protect you.

As previously discussed, using Windows is ill-advised due to intrinsic vulnerabilities and security bugs. But if you can’t switch to a different system, be sure to update your platform regularly to help increase safety.

Avoid Performing Google Searches

Google stores search queries and other critical information. Plus, it incorporates cookies onto your PC to keep track of your habits. That’s why using it on Tor is a bad idea.

There are many safer search engines to choose from, like StartPage and DuckDuckGo. Unlike Google, they don’t store, save, log, or track anything on your devices.

Disable Flash, Java, and JavaScript

Exploring the internet with active content is a major risk on any browser, especially Tor. Adobe Flash, ActiveX, Java, JavaScript, and QuickTime often run automatically due to your account settings. While this streamlines your online experience, it also allows the technology to access private data.

JavaScript is the most dangerous option. This popular browsing language can ignore your Tor proxy server settings and start tracking you through websites. It can also save cookies and other files from Tor. Finding and deleting cookies stored via JavaScript can be incredibly challenging.

Why risk compromising yourself on the Tor project website, when you can disable the languages? You’ll get higher levels of security and privacy, both of which are paramount when traversing the dark web.

P2P and Torrent Files Are Off-limits

Sharing P2P files is seamless on some browsers but not on Tor. The network’s infrastructure blocks this file-sharing traffic. Attempting to override these restrictions is risky, as it can expose your true identity.

Also, BitTorrent and similar clients are inherently insecure. Downloading files with them over Tor lets them send IP addresses to peers, which can’t be reversed once you initiate a download.

Delete Cookies

If you become a Tor user, you’ll reap all the benefits of the Tor circuit. The nodes in this system help prevent cookies, traffic analysis, and other means of tracking your online activity.

Nevertheless, a large amount of information can accumulate over time. People can piece them together and de-anonymize you.

To avoid this, regularly delete cookies and other site data. Another option is to install add-ons that wipe out browsing history automatically.

Stay Away From HTTP Websites

Data entering and exiting HTTP web pages is unencrypted. This goes against Tor’s principles of encrypting all traffic within the network. Consequently, accessing HTTP sites makes you vulnerable when exit nodes process the information.

By contrast, visiting HTTPS pages with SSL, TLS, or other types of end-to-end encryption is 100% safe. Your data is protected and virtually undetectable by exit nodes.

Use VPNs

Using one privacy platform doesn’t prevent you from installing another one. This particularly holds for Tor browsing.

Even though the program facilitates high privacy, you can make your experience even safer with VPNs. They anonymize and encrypt your web traffic, making it invisible and untraceable back to you. Luckily, Tor can support VPN to double up on your online privacy.

There are many top-rated VPNs out there:

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN offers reliable protection from cyberattacks when using Tor. The list includes IP/DNS leak detection, kill switches, and 256-bit encryption to keep your information from ending up in the wrong hands. The platform has been tested by several independent tools for leak probability, and the results show that the chances are slim to none.

Another impressive feature of ExpressVPN is that it routes Tor traffic through private DNS servers. Few VPNs provide this function, but this platform takes cybersecurity more seriously.

If you want to download and install the program safely, you can use its dedicated onion page. It guarantees maximum protection as soon as you activate your VPN, which is incredibly helpful if you live in censored countries. Setting up ExpressVPN with this website is secure and safe.

Complementing the phenomenal security advantages are nearly unrivaled speeds. Tor can be sluggish, so it’s vital to boost it with a VPN that doesn’t reduce the speed further.

You won’t have this problem with ExpressVPN. On the contrary, the app might accelerate your experience, so you can surf with Tor smoothly.

CyberGhost

CyberGhost is a robust alternative to ExpressVPN. It has several unique features, such as NoSpy servers. Located in privacy-fostering Romania, they can only be accessed by authorized CyberGhost employees. This dramatically lowers the chances of third-party intrusion.

The program follows strict no-log policies, too, and compiles transparency reports four times per year. These reports show you the number of malware flags, DMCA complaints, and legal requests received by the company.

It provides advanced 256-bit encryption and industry-leading protocols for safeguarding your information when accessing Tor. There are also robust security features, like kill switches and IP/DNS leak protection.

If you want to test the efficacy of CyberGhost, try switching your server locations suddenly. The program should notify you that it used a kill switch to temporarily block your traffic. This gives you peace of mind, knowing your information won’t leak through the network, even if the connection halts.

Speaking of the connection, the speeds are sky-high. They help reduce slowdown with Tor. Whether you watch videos or make crypto transactions, loading the necessary data shouldn’t take more than a second.

Private Internet Access

If you wish to browse Tor confidently, another VPN you should consider is Private Internet Access (PIA). It has an integrated malware blocker to maximize safety. The feature is easily accessible, and you can activate it with just one click. Apart from terminating pop-ups, it also addresses malicious files before they cause extensive damage to your system.

PIA has a bunch of different options for customizing Tor security. For example, you can choose your protocol and encryption level. This lets you strike a balance between high speeds and optimal protection.

Furthermore, the system has two high-quality kill switches. The “Advanced” version might be your best option since it eliminates the risk of traffic leaks, even if you turn off your VPN.

PIA also has an obfuscation and multi-hop setting to conceal VPN use. This gives you another encryption layer by processing traffic through a secret proxy server.

PIA delivers excellent speeds. Although it’s not as fast as CyberGhost or ExpressVPN, you should still be able to explore the dark web with Tor relatively smoothly. However, using the obfuscation and multi-hop setting can result in sluggish performance.

Surfshark

If speed is a priority, you should also give some thought to Surfshark. It has more than 3,000 servers in over 60 countries, providing fast connections regardless of your location.

The VPN has a stringent no-logging policy and protects your Tor traffic with optimized 256-bit encryption. There’s also a dependable kill switch and protection from WebRTC, DNS, and IPv6 leaks. This makes it a solid choice from a security standpoint.

The application has a few more cutting-edge features to help conceal your online behavior. For example, it enables you to use multi-hop servers to remain anonymous longer and accelerate other programs with split tunneling.

Surfshark is compatible with Ripple, Ethereum, and Bitcoin payments. You can sign up for each service entirely anonymously.

The platform is perfect for macOS, Linux, Android, and Windows users. Plus, it’s compatible with many routers, but you’ll need to configure it manually.

Lastly, Surfshark offers admirable customer support. Their team is available 24/7, and you can use their live chat option for quick troubleshooting.

NordVPN

Many features make NordVPN an ideal choice for Tor users. It lets you access servers specifically configured for Tor. Any traffic that travels through your VPN is automatically redirected to Tor’s network. This increases speed while providing high anonymity.

NordVPN is also famous for its double-VPN option. You can use it for your Tor browser to elevate security at the expense of speed.

The platform operates under zero logs policies and encrypts traffic with the 256-bit standard. It accepts Bitcoin payments and can be used on all major systems, including macOS, Android, Windows, and Linux.

How to Combine VPNs With Tor

Highly secure VPNs can optimize safety when using Tor. There are two ways you can combine your VPN with this browser. Each provides specific advantages.

Tor Over VPN

The go-to method requires you to activate your VPN before visiting the dark web with Tor. It shields your information as it bounces between nodes. Moreover, it hides your IP address from the browser and keeps ISPs from observing your activity.

That said, the method might not be effective if the VPN lacks crucial security features. For example, your data is likely to leak in case of disrupted connections if you don’t have a high-quality kill switch. The same can happen if you encounter malicious exit nodes.

Another feature your VPN should provide is no-log policies. It’s the only way to guarantee your connection remains anonymous.

VPN Over Tor

If you opt for the second method, you’ll need to activate Tor before connecting to your VPN. This is more complicated because it requires manual configuration of the VPN.

There are a few benefits of this technique. Primarily, it prevents exit nodes from detecting your traffic, so there’s no way for data to leak through these points.

You should also be aware of the limitations of this type of connection. For instance, your Tor usage can still be detected by your ISP. And while you can access standard web pages, you won’t be able to explore onion sites.

The only way to implement the combination is to find VPNs that support Tor. Another condition is to ensure there are strict no-log policies in place.

Tread Lightly in Dangerous Regions

You probably want to use Tor for freedom of speech, political purposes, or to circumvent censorship. If so, avoid activities that can jeopardize your anonymity, such as accessing HTTP websites and enabling JavaScript. In addition, combine Tor with a trusted VPN to keep a safe distance from prying eyes.

Resources

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How safe is the Tor browser?

Tor is generally safe. It was developed to help people explore the internet anonymously, concealing traffic by transporting it through multiple servers. Visiting the dark web with Tor is risky, though.

Can you get de-anonymized on Tor?

The chances of de-anonymization on Tor are low, but this can happen if you don’t use a VPN. Your ISP can see your connection, making you a sitting duck.

Is Tor illegal?

Most countries allow Tor, but using it can put you under surveillance. The browser is often associated with criminal activity, so surfing the web with it can seem suspicious.

Author: Tibor Moes

Author: Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.

Over the years, he has tested most leading antivirus software for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, as well as many VPN providers.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

This website is hosted on a Digital Ocean server via Cloudways and is built with DIVI on WordPress.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.

Don't take chances online. Protect yourself today:

Best Antivirus Icon - SoftwareLab

Compare Antivirus

Protect your Devices

Best VPN Icon - SoftwareLab

Compare VPN

Protect your Privacy

Or directly visit the #1:

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]