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Re: [tor-talk] Tor and Anonymous browsing etc.

> hi derric.  Im wanting to download(torrents and programs) and browse
> whatever i want Annonymously. I have Tor Browsr but all the
> intructions lead me to download after download. I realize its
> important but its so confusing. Codes, tails, onions lol, blockers,
> HTTL, IP addresses, bandwidth, open this before u open this, keep
> refreshing this and that. Whew! Its a headache. Im mid level computer
> lit. Lol.


You've already completed the first step, which is downloading the Tor
Browsing Bundle.  Tor hides your IP address (and therefore your 

I'll give you a quick and oversimplified explanation of how Tor
works, which should help you understand what you should and shouldn't
do in order to protect your privacy.  Usually when you connect to a
website your computer connects directly to that website, and unless
you are using HTTPS it does so in an unencrypted, easy to eavesdrop
on fashion.  When you use Tor, your connection first bounces through
three Tor relays (which are Tor servers run by volunteers around the
world).  These Tor relays only know about the hop before them and
the hop after them, this is to say, Relay 1 knows about you and
Relay 2, Relay 2 knows about Relay 1 and Relay 3, and Relay 3 knows
about Relay 2 and your destination website.

The website you are trying to reach only knows about Relay 3 and
that you are using Tor, not necessarily who you are or where you are.

The first relay of course knows who you are and that you are using
Tor, but not what for.

By limiting the knowledge that each person has in each step you
protect your privacy.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation produced
a page that explains it a whole lot better than I can though.


Tor hides your IP address, which is one of the primary ways that
people identify you online, but there are other ways as well.  The
Tor browser bundle is designed so that every copy of it looks the
same as every other copy of it that is browsing the Web.  This
makes it hard to distinguish two Tor users the same way that it
would be hard to distinguish two cars if every car was a white
Mazda.  You can run other software through Tor, and therefore
hide your IP address, but if you want the most protection you
should only use Tor with the Tor Browser Bundle and other software
designed to be used with Tor.

Your online habits also can give away your identity, just like
even if everyone was driving the same car you could follow a car
for a while until you figured out who it was.  If you are going
to do anything with the Tor Browser Bundle that might reveal
who you are you should click the Onion icon and then click
New Identity both before and after the activity.  This clears
all saved information out of the Tor Browser Bundle and selects
new relays to route your connection through.

Tor is not a magic bullet, it takes work to make it work.

A couple other things to note about making Tor work for you:
  * Do not torrent over Tor.  Most torrent clients won't use
    Tor anyways, and the ones that do put a considerable strain
    on the network.  As a courtesy and for your own protection,
    please do not Torrent over the Tor network.
  * Use HTTPS version of websites.  Tor Browser Bundle should do
    this automatically for most well-known websites, but for any
    that it doesn't you should use HTTPS where possible.  If you
    do not use HTTPS the last Tor relay can read and modify the
    data you are sending to the website if it wants to.
  * Don't open documents downloaded through Tor while online!
    Many types of documents will do things on the Internet when
    they are opened.  Word files, for example, might try to download
    a picture.  Since programs other than the Tor Browser Bundle will
    not, by default, be routed through Tor it is possible that opening
    a document will give away your identity!

I hope that helps answer your questions about what Tor is, what it
does, and how to use it.  Let me see if I can help you understand
some of the terms that you mentioned in your email that you
sounded confused about.

Tails: Tails is an entire operating system that is run through Tor.
      It is one of the most secure ways to use Tor, but a little bit
      more difficult to get set up than the Tor Browser Bundle.  If
      you are interested, I'd be happy to point you in the right
      direction for getting it set up.
Onion Routing: This is the type of routing that Tor uses to proect your
      privacy.  Tor actually used to stand for The Onion Router.
      It's called onion routing because each relay acts like a
      layer of an onion peeling off a bit of the message.
Blockers: Not sure if you are referring to blockers in code or folks
      blocking Internet connections? Some clarification would
      be nice.
IP Addresses: These are addresses used to identify computers online.
      They are sort of akin to postal addresses.  You could compare
      most Internet traffic to sending letters in the mail.  Most
      residential connections change your IP address every few days.
      Tor hides your IP address from websites you are visiting by
      routing your traffic through a series of Tor relays.
Bandwidth: This is the measure of how much stuff you can push through
      your Internet connection.  Tor is fast enough for regular
      web browsing, but using software that requires a high amount of
      bandwidth (like video conferencing) might not work very well
      through Tor.

If you have any questions or need something explained better please
feel free to ask.  Anyone else on the list, please point out to me
all of the mistakes I have inevitably made in my email that way I
can not make them when explaining Tor things next time.

Thank you,
Derric Atzrott

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