Is Tor a Safe Browser?
By Nancy William 5 minutes
For everyday user, Tor is safe to use. However, Tor offers a balance of advantages and disadvantages that can be a huge drawback. Even though Tor comes with some major perks, we wouldn’t say that it’s more secure than a VPN. Although, using a VPN with Tor can help amp up online anonymity and security.
Tor refers to the onion router. It’s an open-source software program that enables users to browse the internet anonymously.
Is the Tor browser safe?
Tor is not the most secure browser so I wouldn’t say that it’s 100% safe. However, it’s a powerful tool that strongly maintains users’ anonymity.
When you browse through Tor, your internet traffic starts routing via Tor’s network. It means your traffic passes through several randomly picked relays before finally leaving Tor’s network.
It is not possible to actually detect which computer has requested the traffic. The system you’re using may initiate the connection, otherwise, it may act as the relay and will move the traffic to the next Tor node.
Most of the traffic comes eventually from the Tor network. Let’s assume, you’re using Tor to connect to Google. Your traffic will pass through various Tor relays, but in the end, your traffic will transfer from the Tor network and then hit Google’s server.
The last relay, where your traffic leaves the tor network and connects to the destination is called exit relay or tor exit node. This exit relay is traceable and can be monitored by the government.
However, if you’re browsing an encrypted HTTPS website, then exit relay can see that you’re connecting to it. But, if you’re accessing an unencrypted website then exit relay will monitor your online activity. It will also keep a record of all the web pages you search along with the messages you send.
Online users should be careful about the consent of accepting an exit node/relay. There are equal chances that the government runs these exit nodes to monitor traffic, and may trace cybercriminals through it.
How to use Tor safely?
Install the Tor browser on your device, keep in mind that Tor browser is an advanced version of Firefox and other software that helps to connect you with the Tor network.
To ensure maximum security, make sure to visit highly encrypted HTTPS websites because while using Tor.
Moreover, you can also use a VPN with Tor. Tor is more secure with a VPN because VPN makes sure to mask your IP and online activities before it enters the first node. This way, your ISP will not detect your access to the Tor browser and the entry node itself cannot see your actual IP address. Read our detailed discussion on TOR vs VPN for a more detailed look at is tor safer than VPN.
Is Tor safe for normal browsing?
Yes, Tor is safe for normal browsing. You can download Tor to browse normal websites. Moreover, Tor offers safe browsing on Android, macOS, Windows, and Unix. However, you can still get hacked, and your system can get attacked by malware using Tor. These are some of the downsides to it.
Major Vulnerabilities of Tor
All in all, Tor browser can be considered safe in general, but it also has some downsides and vulnerabilities. Here are the detailed vulnerabilities that you can expect when using Tor:
Tor’s exit node is traceable
As mentioned above exit relay or exit node is the last tor node. After traveling through the Tor exit node, your traffic finally reaches the open internet. This exit node is decrypted and traceable. It can reveal data to the node which may be a government proxy.
Tor reduces overall bandwidth speed
When you browse through Tor, your overall bandwidth speed reduces. It happens because traffic is not directly reaching its destination. It takes various routes that ultimately delays the process.
Tor is a target for the NSA
Tor, due to its impeccable anonymity claims, has been a target for higher authorities like NSA and government. Therefore, if you’re using it for any suspected online activities then you will be on a higher risk because these authorities keep a special check on tor users.
Various sites actively block tor users
Tor has been considered as the browser of suspicious activities. The browser has lost its image because of its access to the dark web and various websites block users who browse through Tor. Because websites like the Dark Web are not monitored, it can be harmful for you and your device while using Tor with it.
Is Tor illegal?
Yes, Tor is completely legal to use. However, think twice before using Tor for illegal activities as the entry node can detect your IP address and the exit node can see your destinations. On the other hand, Tor is illegal in some countries like China, whether it’s either illegal or blocked.
Is Tor safe?
In general, Tor is safe. The sole reason why Tor is created, is to allow users the chance to browse the internet safely, and more freely, safely, allowing them and web-traffic to remain anonymous, by routing them through various servers. Even though Tor is safe to use, it’s also used for riskier platforms, like the Dark Web.
Is Tor safe without a VPN?
We’ve mentioned that even though Tor is very safe for online privacy, and offers users a high level of anonymity, it’s still not completely secure. There are cases where people will still be able to make out your IP address, which is why pairing it with a VPN is a safer option.
Can you be tracked using Tor?
Tor does offer users a higher level of anonymity compared to other web browsers, and hides your traffic and location, preventing you from being tracked. However, we still wouldn’t call Tor 100% secure. Even though you can’t be tracked, your browsing history can still be seen by some people.
Is Tor safe according to Reddit users?
Based on combined results, most Reddit users say that Tor on its own is not dangerous, and is a great tool for website hosters to stay anonymous. However, because tracks are covered with Tor, there are some websites that can be malicious and infect your device or data.
What is a Tor browser?
Using the Tor Network, a Tor browser anonymizes user data, which comes as an advantage for users who require online privacy.
How does Tor work?
Tor consists of a network of virtual tunnels. All traffic and data is passed through these tunnels to improve online privacy and security while using the Internet. Speaking of routing through tunnels, Tor sends all traffic through three random servers. These servers are known as relays in the Tor network. The very last relay in the circuit of servers is the “exit relay” which is what sends the traffic out onto the Internet.
The Tor browser is a good alternative to Firefox or Chrome browser. and makes a powerful tool for online privacy. However a 100% security is still not something that you can expect with Tor. Some users use Tor for illegal activities, but Tor is also used for safe and legal activities. If you’re looking for a safe way to use Tor, it’s done by pairing it with a VPN.