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I'm currently using the Tor browser-bundle. I know, that it uses the TOR-software.

But I'd really like to know, how the browser-bundle and TOR basically works and how I'm able to install it properly on different operation-system.

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See also the new beta Stack Exchange site Tor. –  Michael Hampton Oct 16 '13 at 1:34
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1 Answer

up vote 7 down vote accepted

How does the TOR-network work?

In general as seen in the picture, it uses different random nodes to send your traffic through to completely anonymize your traffic which is sent straight through your browser. Traffic through third-party plugins, flash for example, won't be anonymized.

Easy to understand explanation

The TOR-network uses "nodes" to pass your traffic through. Without TOR, a visit of a website would be direct.

  1. User Alice sends a request to Bob.
  2. The requested server responds to the request and gives back the information.

With TOR, it's a bit more complicated.

  1. User Alice wants to open a website.

  2. The TOR-client gets a list of Tor-nodes from a directory-server Dave.

    enter image description here

  3. The TOR-Client now picks randomly a path to the target, through these nodes. As you see in the picture, the whole way to the target is encrypted. Only the way from the last node to the target isn't encrypted. So it's not possible to reproduce, from which computer the request came and where the request originally started.

    enter image description here

  4. If you reconnect to the exact same server, than the nodes will be choosen randomly again. So no way is the same as the last one.

    enter image description here

What is the TOR-browser-bundle

This bundle comes with a browser, that has TOR integrated in it.
I recommend this bundle, because:

  • you don't need to install any software. Just download the tool and run it to start the Tor-browser.
  • it is compatible for any gui-operating-system
    • Windows
    • Mac OS X
    • Linux
  • it's easy to use, also for "newbies".

How to install and use the bundle

Windows

  1. Download the bundle from the tor-project-website. Download
  2. Extract the ZIP-file
  3. Open the Tor-Browser-folder.
  4. Start the Tor browser by clicking on the Start Tor Browser-Application.
  5. The vidalia-window will apear. Please wait until the browser opens.

    enter image description here

  6. A new Firefox window should appear.

  7. Every website that you will now visit, will be visited completely anonymous through the TOR-network.
  8. If you close the firefox-browser, TOR will automatically stop and will shut down. To restart the TOR-browser, just click on the Start Tor Browser-Application again.

Mac OS X

  1. Download the bundle from the tor-project-website. Download
  2. Open the file. You don't have to unzip it, because OSX will automatically open it.
  3. Click on the TorBrowser_your-Language application to launch the TOR-browser.

    enter image description here

  4. It will take a while, but after vidalia is ready, a new firefox-browser will be launched.

Linux

  1. Download the bundle from the tor-project-website which fits your architecture. Download
  2. To extract the file, use the following command, but you have to exchange the YOURLANGUAGE with the language shown in the filename of your language:

    • 32 bit-version

      tar -xvzf tor-browser-gnu-linux-i686-2.3.25-13-dev-YOURLANGUAGE.tar.gz
      
    • 64 bit-version

      tar -xvzf tor-browser-gnu-linux-x86_64-2.3.25-13-dev-YOURLANGUAGE.tar.gz
      
  3. Open the TOR-directory

    cd tor-browser_YOURLANGUAGE
    
  4. To run the browser-bundle, type in the following command:

    ./start-tor-browser
    

Conclusion

The bundle is very good to anonymize your browsing. It is a 99.99% safe way to be anonymous at the internet. Nobody was able yet to decrypt/hack the TOR-network.

I highly recommend it.

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Just a side note: As much as TOR is making your traffic hidden, this will not stop side-channel attack such as: Someone sees the site you're visiting from behind you/over the shoulder, or if someone has physical access to your computer or if someone has managed to remotely access your PC (nothing is safe after that). Tor creates anonymity yes, but if security is utmost important, you can't let your guard down. –  Darius Oct 15 '13 at 22:56
    
Many thx for your input. I've added this to the post. –  c0dev Oct 15 '13 at 23:15
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