Is Tor really that bad?

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s1lv3r
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Hi everybody someone of you use Tor?
Many people recommend it and even rms browse only with it.
I have done my homework and i read the official page of the project but i'm still not sure.
I read a lot of nasty orrible stories about tor and i'm afraid of it.
I want to become serious about my privacy and surf the internet anonymously but i don't want to see orrible stuff
Is Tor really that bad? or are all lies?
Should i use a VPN instead?
As always thanks in advance for the responses and sorry for my bad english

GrevenGull
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meatspace?

s1lv3r
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thanks for the good advice

Magic Banana

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TOR is for anonymity.
VPN is for privacy (supposedly).

Isn't Tor basically equivalent to three nested VPN (chosen in the Tor network)? If so, how could Tor and VPN be in different "categories"?

jxself
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I think you may have misunderstood Magic Banana's question fundamentally. Banana is comparing TOR to three nested VPNs, making it difficult for any one VPN to see the entire thing.

jxself
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There are VPN providers that accept Bitcoin for example. So: Assume it's paid anonymously and then re-evaluate Banana's question with that assumption. :)

The first one sees an encrypted connection between you and another VPN service for example. Even if the first one were doing all of the things you mention (logging, etc.) they should not be able to decrypt the traffic to the second VPN service. And so on.

Banana's question raises the thing about onion routing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onion_routing

TOR would not be the only way to do that.

onpon4
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You don't even need cryptocurrency or e-cash to pay anonymously. You can go to any store that sells gift cards, buy a MasterCard or VISA gift card with cash, and use that to pay. It just costs a bit more.

chaosmonk

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That's how I understand it as well, and it is what I meant by Tor's decentralization being an advantage. I wouldn't say that one provides anoymity and the other provides privacy. Rather, they both provide some anonymity and some privacy, but Tor provides more.

Here is the information others have about my identity while I'm using Tor, assuming HTTPS.

https://www.eff.org/files/tor-https-3.png

As you can see, I have different degrees of anonymity and privacy from different parties. Not depicted is a hypothetical friend sitting next to me as I browse, who knows my name, location, that I use Tor, and what I site I am on at the time. Also not depicted is another friend who is not present but knows my name and that I use Tor because I have told them. Trivially, I of course also know this information about myself. The fact that these friends know my name does not compromise anonymity because I do not desire anonymity from them. The fact that they know other information about me does not in itself compromise my privacy if I did not intend this information to be private from them. Anonymity and privacy are things that I have *from* someone in a given situation. My anonymity and privacy are respected if I have control over this. Note that it *would* violate my privacy if the first friend betrays my trust by telling someone against my wishes what site I visited.

Suppose instead that I used a VPN. The differences it would make to the flowchart are (1) there or no Tor relays, (2) my VPN has the combined information of the Tor relays, (3) my VPN also has my payment information. Are my anonymity and privacy respected? That depends on whether I am okay with .a VPN having this information about me (I would not be) and whether they give this information to anyone else (they might). However, my privacy might also be violated while using Tor if for instance the Police get my username and password from Site.com. Neither situation is perfect, and for some the extra protection of Tor might not be worse how much slower it is than using a VPN.

Magic Banana

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Neither situation is perfect, and for some the extra protection of Tor might not be worse how much slower it is than using a VPN.

We are back to the conversation in the other thread: privacy is not absolute and "extra protection" often requires compromising on other features (performance here).

chaosmonk

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> Hi everybody someone of you use Tor?

I use Tor Browser for browing the internet.

> I read a lot of nasty orrible stories about tor and i'm afraid of it.

Tor is a tool that protects one's anonymity. Many people rely on anonymity for privacy and/or safety. I've also read nasty and horrible stories involving cars. Tor is used for many good reasons, while most bad things are done without using Tor. Only actions can be ethical or unethical, and we should not project ethics onto tools or objects.

> I want to become serious about my privacy and surf the internet anonymously

While privacy and anonymity are not identical, anonymity can protect your privacy, especially on the internet. Note however you will only remain anonymous if you use Tor properly. I suggest reading this first to help avoid some common mistakes.

https://www.whonix.org/wiki/DoNot

> Should i use a VPN instead?

Tor has the advantage of decentralization.

chaosmonk

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I'm not aware of a TorBirdy equivalent for any other mail client. The instructions for torifying an email client say to use Thunderbird instead

https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/wiki/doc/TorifyHOWTO/EMail

and the instructions for using TorBirdy in Thunderbird say "Thunderbird is not safe to use with Tor (yet)!" (although it's apparently better than attempting to torify a mail client yourself)

https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/wiki/doc/TorifyHOWTO/EMail/Thunderbird

The other options are webmail (ew), a distro that sends everything through Tor like Tails or Heads (overkill for me), or not using Tor for emails. Since I do not send emails anonymously the only benefit of Tor would be hiding my location from my mail provider. Shortly before I switched from Gmail I was using their HTML-only webmail through Tor Browser because I especially did not want that mail provider tracking me. (This was short-term damage control, of course. No one should use Gmail at all.) I still would like to send emails through Tor, but it not my first priority anymore. It's maybe my sixth or seventh priority. At the moment I am using Mutt, not through Tor.

If I learn more I'll let you know. As far as I know right now these are the options for sending emails through Tor.

(1) Tails or Heads (good)
(2) JS-free webmail in Tor Browser (also good)
(3) Thunderbird/Torbirdy (still in progress, so risky)
(4) Use the deprecated instructions to torify your mail client (even more risky)

calher

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On Sun, 2018-01-14 at 11:06 -0800, name at domain wrote:
> I'm not aware of a TorBirdy equivalent for any other mail client. The instructions for torifying an email client say to use Thunderbird instead
>
> https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/wiki/doc/TorifyHOWTO/EMail
>
> and the instructions for using TorBirdy in Thunderbird say "Thunderbird is not safe to use with Tor (yet)!" (although it's apparently better than attempting to torify a mail client yourself)
>
> https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/wiki/doc/TorifyHOWTO/EMail/Thunderbird
>
> The other options are webmail (ew), a distro that sends everything through Tor like Tails or Heads (overkill for me), or not using Tor for emails. Since I do not send emails anonymously the only benefit of Tor would be hiding my location from my mail provider. Shortly before I switched from Gmail I was using their HTML-only webmail through Tor Browser because I especially did not want that mail provider tracking me. (This was short-term damage control, of course. No one should use Gmail at all.) I still would like to send emails through Tor, but it not my first priority anymore. It's maybe my sixth or seventh priority. At the moment I am using Mutt, not through Tor.
>
> If I learn more I'll let you know. As far as I know right now these are the options for sending emails through Tor.
>
> (1) Tails or Heads (good)

Heads sucks.

The developer says they don't want it to be easy to use, because
anything that makes a system easy for the average person to use is
"bloat".

But, that's where they get you. Spies always wait for the user to break
because the interface is too inconvenient, and so they say "oh, all
right, I won't encrypt this time."

s1lv3r
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Thanks for you answer and for the tips

calher

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Alexander Stephen Thomas Ross
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theres tons of people like with anything, that will say crap about
something.

tor is yet another victim of such people.
if you dont like websites/onion sites that have err unsavoury themes
then dont visit them. if thats the bad things that are said your
referring too.

Yes they have in the past received gov money but i would say its a case
of classic stupid humans where one department needs anonymity network
and other department doesn’t want one to exist. conflicts of gov
departments heh :)

Tor is cutting edge and best, easy to use protection/counter measure
there is.

There are also other interesting floss related projects too, like i2p,
and more. they do different things, tor is best an anon web browsing. to
my current knowledge.

chaosmonk

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> Yes they have in the past received gov money but i would say its a case
> of classic stupid humans where one department needs anonymity network
> and other department doesn’t want one to exist. conflicts of gov
> departments heh :)

Indeed, although I see it not as incompentence but a contradiction inherent to hierarchy. We are supposed to accept that people with power are benevolent and have good judgement, so they may have the freedom to make decisions not just for themselves but for everyone, and the privacy to make these decisions without scrutiny from the people they affect. The rest of us are assumed to be selfish and weak, so it is too dangerous for us to make decisions even for ourselves and we must be constantly surveilled to ensure that we don't try. Since this contradiction is not grounded in truth, it must be preserved by exercising power. It makes perfect sense for the government to have one department that contributes to an anonymity network for their own benefit and another department that tries to prevent us from benefitting too.

SuperTramp83

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>I read a lot of nasty horrible stories about tor and i'm afraid of it.

Well, if I write a book about how horrible freedom can be will you believe me?

>I want to become serious about my privacy and surf the internet anonymously but i don't want to see orrible stuff

Things don't magically appear on your screen. You have to actively and willfully search for them. It is not like you open the TorBB and your screen gets filled with Isis decapitations and shit.

>Is Tor really that bad? or are all lies?

It is not. It just like firefox. It's as the use you give it. You can use Firefox to view the most horrible things in this world, in the clearnet and for free (as in beer)

>Should i use a VPN instead?

Why not both?

s1lv3r
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As always thank you so much for your response

William5565
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I would use Tor as my main browser for privacy concerns but it's like browsing the internet on dial up speeds and a lot of websites block it now days.

jules_verne
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Tor is great. I do recommend it.

Mangy Dog

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SNOWDEN: Use Tor.

LEE: Use Tor?

SNOWDEN: If you’re not using Tor you’re doing it wrong. Now, there is a counterpoint here where the use of privacy-enhancing technologies in certain areas can actually single you out for additional surveillance through the exercise of repressive measures. This is why it’s so critical for developers who are working on security-enhancing tools to not make their protocols stand out.

https://theintercept.com/2015/11/12/edward-snowden-explains-how-to-reclaim-your-privacy/