I’ve heard of TOR, it’s the “dark web” right?
Not exactly, TOR is an alternative to Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge etc. You can use it the same as you use any other web browser and surf the normal web you’re used to but it also keeps you anonymous and it does allow you to access the “dark web” if you so wish.
I don’t want anything to do with the dark web!
You’ve no doubt heard the phrase “the dark web”. The chances are, you’ve heard it linked to a variety of nefarious activities such as drugs/arms dealing, human trafficking and all kinds of horrific things. It’s true you’ll probably find more illegal activities taking place in this arena compared to the normal web but that’s to be expected given the fact it offers more anonymity. It’s not all about illegal activities though, the dark web actually offers loads of useful things such as discussion boards which can operate without censorship. Don’t worry though, we’re not looking to access the dark web in this article, it’s just the Tor Browser we’re interested in. If you are interested in learning more about Tor and the dark web, this is a good guide and very easy to understand.
Is Tor Legal?
Tor Browser was originally created by the US Government for the US Navy, it’s been made publicly available and it’s generally completely legal to use. The only exceptions are if you live in an authoritarian regime such as China, Venezuela etc. as they obviously aren’t keen on information freely getting in and out of their countries.
How does it work?
Use the browser the same as you would any other browser, simply enter the website address you want to visit and use as normal. The difference is, when you connect to a website, the IP address the website will see is not yours (similar to using a VPN).
What happens in the background is the Tor Browser connects you to a different computer with a different IP address and adds some encryption. It then repeats the process with another two computers before finally making the request to website you wanted to visit. Essentially this means the website you’re visiting doesn’t have access to your original IP address so they can’t get your location.
What does it cost and where can I get it?
It’s completely free, you can download Tor Browser from the official website or Play Store. If you’re on an iPhone or iPad, there isn’t an official Tor Browser available yet but the Tor Project do endorse Onion Browser. You can download this from the App Store, it’s very similar to the Tor Browser but it’s not developed by the official Tor Project team.
|Easy to use, just use like any other web browser||Some websites block traffic coming from Tor Browser|
|Hides your location (IP address) from the website you’re visiting||It's slow, websites will take longer to load|
|Adds extra layers of encryption to your web requests||Due to the speed, downloads are not recommended|
|Ability to access websites not available in standard web browsers (dark web)||Watching videos will be a painfully slow experience|