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What is TOR?
In these contemporary days, no one does not know about browser among the ones who use the internet. We get to know everything around the world through the internet with the help of browsers. We need to submit our information in some cases to get to know a few things. If you are active in social media, then the public will see almost every single detail of you.
Maintaining anonymity is quite tricky when you are social savvy. However, many of you do not know that there is a browser called Tor and it allows you to be anonymous while you browse the internet. Yes! You heard it right, and you can be unknown sometimes with the help of Tor to complete your tasks if you do not want to let others know about you.
What is TOR?
A TOR is a web browser, which makes you anonymous and lets you browse by maintaining anonymity. Its name was derived from the software project named “The Onion Router.” The initial release was 15 years ago on September 20, 2002. The TOR redirects the internet traffic through volunteer, free, worldwide network, which has more than thousands of relays.
This conceals the user’s usage data and location from someone who conducts traffic analysis or network surveillance. It makes tough to know or trace the user internet activity, including browsing history, online posts, other communication forms and instant messaging.
What does TOR do?
It hides the internet browsing and user’s privacy but does not hide the fact that the user is using TOR to hide. Some websites are restricted when using the TOR browser for their security reasons. The TOR browser works with almost every Operating system like Microsoft Windows, Apple’s Mac OS, Linux, UNIX, and Android. This web browser is used worldwide for both legitimate and illegitimate works which sometimes put them behind bars if found illicit activities.
One can be anonymous with their browsing activities using the TOR browser. However, the complete anonymity is not maintained by using TOR but reduce the likelihood of websites tracking the actions of the user and backing up the data.

The initial stages of TOR
The main principle of TOR (Onion Routing) was developed in the mid-1990s by Paul Syverson: mathematician, Michael G: computer scientist and the US Naval research laboratory employees aiming to protect US intelligence communications online. Roger Dingledine, a computer scientist later developed the alpha version along with Syverson and Nick Mathewson and named it TOR (The Onion Routing) project.
You may think that for being anonymous, we have VPN, then why TOR again? You may sound good initially when you popped the question, but here lie the differences between TOR and VPN.
TOR Vs. VPN by VPNcop
Volunteers which means it is a free services and you no need to pay for using its services run TOR. It is based on a layered approach, which encrypts the data in many layers before hitting the actual server. Suppose you search something on Google through TOR, it encrypts the data in
one layer, sends to another layer, and again encrypts and sends to the other layer and so on and then hits the Google search server. The result is a bit slow as it hits multiple layers and the same data is encrypted several times.
VPN providers do not provide layered encryption. All they do is select one of the data centers available in dozens of numbers with them. All the traffic is encrypted and routed through these data centers, making it much faster than using TOR, as they are no layers. The data is not filtered when using VPN compared to TOR as it has multiple layer filtration.
However, TOR can also be used in different ways. There are services where one website installs the other website, which is named TOR hidden service.
Does TOR work as expected!
TOR is handy of course, but not perfect and far behind perfection. It does not make you perfectly anonymous but hides your privacy from the websites to track your usage. The National Security Agencies may spy on you with a matter of seconds and always keep an eye on your browsing details as you are using TOR.
Is TOR secure?
Moreover, anonymity is not similar to security. It is quite hard to hack the TOR network, and the browser is a different thing. Even for illegal activities like gaining access to censored information, to hem in laws against criticizing state heads, organize political activities and many other, TOR is used. When using the TOR browser, one can say that it is a dark corner of the web.
The TOR project states that the users include normal citizens who would like to maintain their privacy from the websites who are spying on their data. By the statistics and the survey conducted by the Wall Street Journal, that TOR has millions of users across the globe and mainly in the United States of America.
Also, about 15 % of the traffic of the USA is through TOR; it shows that how significantly TOR is making an impact on the society. Even the most popular organizations like The New Yorker, The Guardian, The Intercept and Pro Publica use TOR to protect their privacy and confidential information.
Get TOR this way
Good news for the soon to be users as it is freely available for use. All you have to do is install the browser available for all Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS, Linux, and UNIX and available for Android mobile users. However, keep in mind that when you are using TOR, you may experience unwanted behavior from other browsers firewall and other security systems.
Tor can manage a comprehensive list of things to avoid making things happen while using the browser and fix any problems if they arise. The Tor server does not provide or need any IP address but use onion address, which is a unique 16 - code character that the users (clients) use at the place of URL. However, the Tor network is secure from traffic analysis, and the Tor browser is vulnerable to exploits and attacks if any.
The Tor browser is specially made for Firefox browser users and vulnerable to attacks as Firefox. If the user’s computer is infected with any malware, then one can check their activity and even access their device remotely.
Prerequisites to get Tor browser
Download the exact installer that suits your OS and install it on your device. You can save it to the USB disk if you want to use it for a different device. All you need is just 80 MB space on the disk and a compatible version of your device requirements. You can see a TOR browser wizard once the browser is installed. Click on connect to establish a connection. Once the connection is established, the Tor browser will automatically open.
Only the pages you visit through Tor browser are sent through this connection, and other browsers are not affected. All the data and cookies are deleted for security reasons once you close the browser after your browsing sessions.
Configure web browser
You need a web server to establish a connection to the web server. TOR is against installing Apache web server as it has many places where it reveals your IP address and other identifying and confidential information. Instead, they suggest you get Savant web browser for Microsoft Windows and thttpd Web server for Mac OS, Linux, and UNIX users.
Configuring Savant for Windows users
The configuration of the web server is too way important if you are on a sensitive hidden Tor site. You have to ensure the proper settings are made to stop gaining access to your details and identity.
Click on configure button after launching the Savant Web server. Now you will set the Server DNS Entry value to localhost. It binds Savant to localhost, which limits the access of others to the normal website and sees that you are hosting the hidden service Tor website.
Note the port number you are using if required for future assistance. After setting up a web server configuration, you have to add the content. The default values are set and rename it to the file directory you want as your homepage.
Configure the hidden service
You have to tell Tor that your web server is running as you have installed the Tor browser and configured the web server. Shutdown Tor if it is running and locate the torrc file and open it with a text editor. It will be available at or Browser\Data\Tor directory if you have used the bundle.
# Hidden Service
HiddenServiceDir C:\Users\Name\tor_service
HiddenServicePort 80
Add the section mentioned above as it is at the end of the file. Replace C:\ Users\ Name\ tor_service with the file location on your device. Set the correct port number, which you have noted in the early context. Save the changes made to the file and close the editor.
Restart the Tor browser to make the changes happen. Check the message log for errors if any. If you find no errors, then it is good to go. Check the hidden service directory you have created just now to find two file directories, hostname, and private_key. Keep the private_key to yourself as this may reveal your anonymity to others. 
Open the hostname file with a text editor to find the address of the new hidden service Tor site.  Plugin this address to the TOR browser and you can see your website. You can share this address to the one’s you are willing to share your confidentiality, remember the others have to use TOR to access the information.
Be careful using Tor
There is no way to be anonymous entirely on the internet, and even Tor cannot change this. However, if you take necessary precautions and if possible can minimize the risks of browsing by using TOR. All you have to do is to disable most of the scripts, plugins and flash that who access browser settings independently and transmit the data about the users.
However, the user has to be careful about the browsing sessions and must be aware of what they are clicking as some unauthorized pages may keep you in deep troubles. For example, the torrenting websites need to send the user IP address to establish a connection between the peers and share the files they are looking for.
Author: VPNCOP:

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