Tor is free and open-source software that masks your digital identity and helps you stay anonymous online. You may think it operates just like a normal web browser. But in the background, there’s a lot more going on.
This post explores the security options of Tor with and without a VPN. It also shows you how Tor works and the best VPNs to use. This is especially important for the TOR over VPN feature. Follow carefully.
How Does Tor Work?
Tor randomly channels all your traffic through a network of servers globally. It wraps it in several layers of encryption to keep it secure from possible interference. You can imagine this encryption like onion layers. Tor stands for “The Onion Router.”
You can gain access to its network through the Tor browser. This allows you to keep your activity, identity and location concealed as your surf the internet. If you are wondering how to use the Tor browser, what you should know is that it is relatively easy.
All you have to do is download and install the latest version for your OS. You’re ready to use it like any other browser when you’ve done this. As a precautionary measure, do not download Tor from any source that isn’t the official Tor website.
Tor Browser uses several ways to protect your data. Every time your data passes through one of the network’s nodes, a layer of encryption is peeled off. This opens another the next relay’s location. When you reach the final node, the last layer of encryption is revealed. Your data is then forwarded to the ultimate final destination.
Is Tor Secure without VPN?
One of the biggest concerns of using Tor without masking yourself is the possibility of your exit being tracked. In cases of compromised exit nodes, your data could be leaked. This is where you may require a VPN to keep you safe.
A VPN connects your device to a server hosted by the VPN company itself. This acts as a middle man and ensures all data sent over this private network is properly encrypted. This means the websites you visit can’t know who you are or the source or location of your IP address.
Even ISP is oblivious of what you are requesting from the internet. All it sees is that your VPN’s server is what you are connected to. This means your browsing data is protected from their prying eyes.
Tor Exit Nodes, Relays, and bridges
The Tor network consists of several hundred onion routers called Tor nodes. These are used to conceal a user’s location from the destination, usually a web server. This anonymity helps you stay untouchable by hackers and censorship filters. The nodes fall into four categories:
- Tor exit nodes: A Tor exit node is the last node that traffic passes through in the Tor network before making its way out of the internet. You may be wondering how these Tor exit nodes work. Well, their jobs are simple and distinct. They send the data to their destination. They are known to be the origin of the traffic.
The implication of this is that the exit node’s IP address will be directly visible to the destination. They will often receive multiple complaints, take-down notices, and legal notices.
- Tor guard nodes: A Tor guard node is the point where there is an entrance into the Tor network.
- Tor middle nodes: A Tor middle node is a node that is positioned between a Tor guard node and an exit node. A message can communicate with several Tor middle nodes before it eventually gets to the exit node.
- Tor bridge nodes: This is a specific type of Tor guard node that is not included in the public directory of Tor nodes.
What Is Tor over VPN?
This is also called Onion over VPN. This works by you connecting to a VPN first and then accessing the Tor network through it. This is the simplest way to merge both tools. All you have to do is open the Tor like a regular browser and use it. For most people, this provides sufficient security and privacy.
Using Tor over VPN encrypts your data and conceals your IP address by the VPN. It also shuttles your data through one of its secure servers before linking it to a Tor network. This translates to protected traffic, not just your browsing activity.
Another perk is the anonymity of your activity to your ISP. They simply can’t see that you’re even using Tor. This is because your VPN hides your activity from them.
What are the Best VPNs for Tor over VPN?
If you have decided to use a VPN with Tor, you must choose the right one. Not every VPN is designed for this. However, some are built with Tor in mind. What you should look out for when seeking a good Tor-supported VPN are:
- Reliable and comprehensive features
- Fast connection speeds
- Wide network for servers
One VPN that is widely recommended and that meets the above requirements is Express VPN. The most obvious perk is its own onion site on the Tor network. This enables you to safely download the app even if VPNs are banned in your country. Another advantage is it eliminates the risks of malicious exit nodes. More so, it masks your location.
ExpressVPN’s 256-bit encryption allows you to stay anonymous throughout your use in the Tor network. You can choose from all kinds of security protocols, but OpenVPN is highly recommended.
ExpressVPN is reliable because it will never log your activity. Also, its killswitch will immediately disconnect you if the VPN server is jeopardized. It is also very fast. ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPNs you can use with Tor. You can also connect several devices at once with a single subscription. Other VPNs that support Tor over VPN are:
- Private Internet Access
Tor is an excellent option if you want to stay anonymous on the internet. It not only provides you with the encryption your data needs. It also makes your browsing activity anonymous. This is very important if your network is running on very sensitive data. Tor is supported by several nodes, which acts as the operational structure.
This post shows you how these nodes and relays work. It also recommends the safest VPNs to use with Tor. Do check them out and create stronger security for your digital data today.