As you probably know by now, nearly anything you do on the web can be monitored to one degree or another. When doing online banking or shopping it’s a good idea to use what is known as SSL to encrypt the session and prevent others from stealing your bank and credit card info. While SSL is a good step, there remain other risks. For example, even with an SSL session it is still possible that a person, company, agency or government can watch and analyze the traffic between your computer or network and the rest of the world and over time learn things about you and your business that you probably don’t want them to know. This is particularly important in regions of the world where government monitors and controls web activity. To make life harder for those that wish to monitor our every move, the good people at the Tor project have created free and open source software and an open network to help you remain anonymous as you browse the web.
At some point I’m going to discuss Tor in more depth, but for now, the best advice I can give you is to go to their site and download what is known as the “Tor Browser Bundle” for your particular OS. There are bundles for Windows, Mac, Linux and even Android and Apple smart phones. To use the software you simply download and extract the compressed bundle at a convenient place on your hard drive and then find and execute the file “Start-tor-browser”. The script will start all the relevant Tor software. Once you are connected to the Tor network, a Firefox browser will be launched and the first page will confirm the connection and show you the IP address you appear to be browsing from. Anything you do from here on out in that session is anonymous and nearly impossible to intercept and monitor. You will notice that the response time is slower than your normal connection due to the overhead of bouncing through various nodes in the Tor network, but you will be assured that what you are doing is between you and the site you are visiting and not a third-party. You will also notice that certain browser features and plug-ins are disabled. This is done to help ensure your privacy and anonymity so I wouldn’t recommend changing the settings unless you REALLY know what you are doing.
I highly recommend you download the Tor browser package to all of your machines and start enjoying a safer web browsing experience today.