The Tor network, the brainchild of the Tor Project, has grown to become the most popular and effective anonymity tool since its conception.
However, recent events have brought into question the reliability and safety of the Tor network.
Predominantly, the main issue is the repeated incidences of internet users using Tor to facilitate criminal activities and evade law enforcement agencies.
Although Tor browser is still the go-to tool when looking for anonymity on the internet, there are other tools that can serve the same purpose or supplement to the Tor browser.
Herein is a comprehensive account of the best alternative ways of using Tor.
JonDo/Tor Secure Live DVD serves as a secure and pre-configured environment where users can surf anonymously. Users do not need to install it on their hard drives to utilize it; JonDo is based on Debian GNU/Linux, and can be run from a USB or disk.
It comes with several complementary applications including the Tor browser, Pidgin, and Thunderbird among others.
The Tor browser facilitates anonymous surfing; Pidgin is an anonymous instant messaging and chat tool, while Thunderbird enables anonymous e-mail communication.
Other features include Parole media player, TorChat, MAT, Calibre (e-books), and GIMP. It is important to note that the development of this application is no longer ongoing, but this should not stop users from modifying it and tailoring it as needed.
2. Tor/Onion over VPN
Tor over VPN is a solution to some of the security concerns affecting this network. Also referred to as onion over VPN, it moves security and privacy to another level.
As suggested, the user configures Tor to run through a user-selected VPN. The client will then connect to the VPN’s server allowing it to route traffic through a known Tor network after encrypting it within the VPN layer.
The encrypted traffic is routed via several Tor nodes before reaching its destination, in addition to the VPN’s obfuscation of information.
As such, this Tor traffic data is unavailable to the client’s ISP. There is debate surrounding the safety of Tor over VPN, but it ultimately comes down to the selection of the VPN service provider. Some commenters state that DNS servers can be employed to compromise some Tor traffic.
3. Tor Bridges
When routing traffic through Tor nodes, usage of third party services compromises security considerably.
Tor bridges or bridge relays are the Tor relays that are unavailable in the main directory.
They are crucial to getting around the problem of ISPs attempting to filter connection to the publicly known Tor relays.
Currently, the Tor browser provides some unlisted bridges by default. To enable these bridges, users should go to their browsers’ configuration menu where they will be asked if the ISP blocks this traffic.
They can select yes, followed by the default option. Essentially, configuring the browser to use Tor bridges routes internet traffic through Tor nodes not listed in the ISPs’ databases – the only downside being that the service may be slower for many users.
4. Ipredia OS
Ipredia OS is a relatively unknown Fedora-based Linux operating system. It provides an anonymous environment and is known for being fast, powerful and stable.
Ipredia OS boasts of numerous anonymity applications including anonymous mail, anonymous IRC chat, bit torrent service, and P2P file sharing.
All network traffic on Ipredia OS is automatically encrypted, ensuring that no data can be leaked through the system. However, it may be a little inconvenient for the users who do not wish to switch to a different operating system.
Freepto is a relatively popular anonymity tool among privacy advocates. It was developed as an alternative to proprietary operating systems in order to provide a ready to use and encrypted environment.
Like JonDo, it is based on GNU/Linux operating system and can be easily installed on a USB flash drive. Although Freepto is no longer being developed, it is still an effective tool to be used alongside Tor.
Tox is a peer-to-peer (P2P) instant messaging, voice/video calling and voice/video conferencing tool that was developed in 2014. Although it does not offer anonymous browsing like Tor, it facilitates easy and secure communication for the users.
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