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TOR anonymity is because of the TOR network, not the browser - though the browser certainly makes it easier to set up.

Does using the TOR browser provide any additional level of safety or anonymity as far as keeping your IP address unavailable when browsing the internet?

In this excerpt from Answercast #96 I look at using the TOR browser to hide your IP address while surfing the web.

TOR anonymity

So to be clear, TOR stands for "The Onion Router" and it's a connectivity proxy, if you will. You install some software on your PC and your browsing activity is then routed through the TOR network so that it appears to be coming from any one of a thousand different machines scattered around the globe instead of coming from your IP address.

In other words, it's an anonymization service.

TOR browser

The TOR browser is actually a little bundle that includes their own browser. What it boils down to is - you simply install the TOR browser and instead of using your normal internet browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, whatever) you use this TOR browser.

It comes pre-configured and that's really the step that it saves you. Installing the TOR browser saves you most of the configuration hassle of even having to understand how to set this thing up. You kind-of sort-of install it and it runs.

Installing TOR

The alternative of course, is to install the basics of TOR itself and then reconfigure your browser, as needed, to connect through TOR instead of connecting directly.

More security with the browser?

Does the TOR browser provide any additional anonymity and security?

No. Technically it does not because it's using the same underlying anonymization technology that TOR uses. In other words, it's using TOR.

What it does do is it, probably, makes the setup a little less error prone. By coming pre-configured in a browser that you simply run, you're not having to make any decisions or choices as to how to set the thing up.

It's possible, I suppose that a bad choice could reveal more of your IP address, or whatever, than you might want - so it might be a little safer but only in the terms of setting things up. Even then I don't think it's a really huge deal. It's convenient. I tried it.

I don't know exactly how compatible their browser is but it might be worth at least checking out.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Article C6332 - March 3, 2013 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

tkj tkj
March 5, 2013 11:42 AM

Be careful with tor. . or don't use it. It was a few yrs ago during Arab Spring , that the contracted with tor to provide information and technology to help Arab citizens communicate safely in those turbulent times. For this the tor project was given $15 million USD.
The article appeared in a major u.s. newspaper and included statements by tor and representatives stating that the is able to track and to identify tor users.
i only read a few papers and am quite sure the publication was either the NYTimes or LATimes or perhaps the Washington Post.
Adding credibility to this is the known fact that Tor began as a project of the U.S. Navy dept ..
The government is not in the business of spending money for nothing.

Fred Pickles
March 5, 2013 6:38 PM

tkj tkj...You are correct except your last sentence. You should rethink that one. haha. Sorry, couldn't resist.

Chanenna Davis
March 8, 2013 12:01 AM

Are you referring to Torch internet? I have been using this and my pc works so much faster. Not sure how I got the Torch, by accident, I think!

tkj tkj
March 8, 2013 11:35 AM

Fred Pickles

haha i gotta agree with yuo .. I even laughed to my self while writing that line !!

BTW, i'd love to learn the actual newspaper and date, etc , of that article!! Ive been kicking myself ever since then ...

A Richter
March 11, 2013 3:00 AM

The German-based JAP JonDo might be a better option, especially to all you guys living in the evil drone empire. As far as I remember, it packs its own version of Firefox.
One needs to bear in mind that anonymization is never perfect and has its drawbacks - traffic slowdown, to start with. There is always your ISP, and also your system configuration that may reveal a lot about the user.

May 21, 2013 1:19 PM

YES, Tor was/is funded by the U.S. Governement.

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