September 2, 2020

Should You Use Tor Browser?

Should You Use Tor Browser?

One of the most popular questions I get at ThinkPrivacy is when to use certain tools and when not to use them. Often times, the questions turn out to be an honest misunderstanding of how some tools work, how they should work, or when someone should actually utilize a more extreme measure of privacy and when not.

Some of this was covered when I discussed threat models but we all still fail to sometimes assess our actual threat level, or simply misunderstand the place certain tools have in this model.

No tool is more misunderstood it seems than the Tor Browser. I briefly touched on Tor when writing about IP addresses, saying:

For the most extreme cases, you can use Tor, a browser that anonymizes your IP through a series of proxy servers. For example, if you visit Amazon.com through Tor, your traffic is routed through these proxies, and each proxy only sees the IP address of the previous proxy. By the time you reach Amazon, your actual IP address is long gone. Amazon sees the IP of the last proxy you passed through and has no idea who you are. The problem with Tor for most users is that it can be incredibly slow.

If you’re a journalist researching some incredibly sensitive materials and cannot risk being tracked, especially for those inside authoritarian governments or those fearing the watchful eye of any government, Tor is for you. Even activists access materials, websites, and resources under similar authoritarian conditions or again, worried about state surveillance under any government, Tor is a great solution.