With online privacy, the right to anonymity, and security waning with each passing year, people of the world and the online community have expressed an overwhelming desire and demand for tools that would help alleviate these ongoing issues. The innovators of the online world, big and small, have answered this demand, and in recent years we have been witness to a huge rise in popularity in VPNs and other technologies that help users maintain their online privacy and bypass online censorship and restrictions. Tor is one of these companies that helps its users in more ways than one in order to do this.
Tor browser is widely regarded as one of the most efficient tools and protocols to protect your security in the online world. It also does a host of other services, such as allowing people from states that impose internet censorship to bypass them, as well as allowing users to go anonymous on the web and access the unindexed portion of the web, known as the dark web.
But what exactly is the Tor Browser, and how does it work? How safe is it? And what is its main target audience based on its use cases? In this article, I will address these questions, so you can consider if Tor is going to be helpful to you or not.
Is Tor a VPN?
One of the most common questions often asked about Tor is if it is classified as a VPN or not. The answer is no. Tor, as the original name implies, is a browser that uses a multi-faceted, exclusive tunneling protocol in order to mask the IP address, encrypt data, and help you become anonymous online. However, since Tor is an open-source platform, many innovations have been performed on its base code to allow VPN protocols to also be used as part of the Tor browser experience. The most notable example of this program is Orbot, which uses the base code of the Tor browser to allow the user to also employ a VPN connection in conjunction with the base-level experience of the Tor browser itself.
While Tor is not a VPN by itself, it is important to note that it is much more similar to a VPN than it is different from it. In essence, the theory of operation for both of them is the same. The notable difference is that Tor flushes your data through multiple servers and tunnels and encrypts it each time, bringing about much more security, and in exchange, it sacrifices some speed.
Best Way to Bypass Internet Restrictions
As we said, Tor is one of the best and most efficient methods of bypassing internet restrictions. Here, I will go over three other methods in order to provide a diversity of choice and potentially compare the relative strengths and weaknesses of Tor Browser against the other options.
Virtual Private Server is by far the easiest, the most accessible, and the most reliable to bypass internet restrictions. A VPN can be thought of as a tunnel that, through a specific protocol, connects you to a destination VPN server, which will then virtually replicate a private network on your original network, masking your IP address and encrypting your data. VPNs are hugely popular nowadays, both in helping users bypass internet restrictions and geo-blocks as well as providing top-notch security via encryption and masking your IP address. Some of the most popular options are OpenVPN, ExpressVPN, and NordVPN.
Create Your Own VPN
Some users may feel the need to create their own VPN server independent of any third-party provider. This is known as self-hosting a VPN server, and in recent years it is getting more traction and popularity. The process involves acquiring a server in the country of your choice and then configuring the VPN on it via the desired VPN protocol. VPS servers are excellent for doing so, and if you want to self-host your own VPN server, you can buy VPS and self-host easily. You can evaluate the Best VPS VPN services out there for yourself!
Proxies are another really reliable method of bypassing internet restrictions. However, despite having a lot of similarities with VPNs, they have some notable differences as well. A proxy is a server that acts as an intermediary force between the end user and the connection itself. So when any request is sent by the end user, the server will send it on the user’s behalf in order to bypass the restrictions. The server will then take the response and display it to the user. The difference here with a VPN is that you are not actually connected to the user and do not assume its credentials, but the server acts as an intermediary for any data and requests that the user sends.
Tor is highly advantageous in allowing you to bypass internet restrictions. Tor does this in two separate ways. First is by creating several tunnels that will flush your outgoing data in order to mask your IP address and allow both the censored content to be available as well as the content that is blocked for you by the provider itself. Tor-based third-party clients such as Orbot also employ VPN services as part of them, so you can use Tor to use both the original protocol as well as a VPN.
If we compare the Tor base protocol compared to VPN, Tor is rather safer. The multiple servers that Tor uses to flush the data and encrypt it are more effective than a VPN. However, A lot of VPN providers do provide encryption as an additional add-on feature that brings up security to levels compared to Tor, although not quite as much. Despite this, end users should not consider Tor as an all-out solution that will completely protect you against all the threats that a user can meet online. Therefore, although Tor Browser is really safe, even more so than a VPN, you still should tread with some care while using it.
Tor Use Cases – Who Should Use Tor?
Tor is incredibly useful. First and foremost, it provides a high level of online safety. So people who previously have faced online attacks or even suffer from them can now use Tor to bolster their online security by masking their IP address. A second use of the Tor browser allows users to bypass internet restrictions. This is useful for users who face internet censorship in their countries, as well as users whose region is geo-blocked by the different providers of online services. A third use case of the Tor Browser is in its utility to allow users to access unindexed parts of the internet, most commonly known as the “dark web.” So Tor has a lot of different use cases beyond removing internet restrictions.
In conclusion, Tor is one of the most reliable ways to bypass internet restrictions and to provide yourself with some free and easy protection while doing so. There are also a ton of other programs that use the open-source code of Tor to provide additional services with it; be careful not to think you’re fully safe with it!