When you want to not only change IP but also completely mask the public address assigned by the telecommunications operator, the Tor network is one of the fundamental tools to use.
Tor, an acronym for The Onion Router, rests its operation on a layered architecture (hence the use of the term onion or onion): each node that makes up the network and that is crossed before reaching the destination server applies a further encryption on the data in transit.
It is obviously, therefore, an excellent tool not only to protect your privacy but also to overcome any limitations imposed by the Internet provider or others (just think that Tor is used to overcome the censorship in those countries still governed by totalitarian regimes).
Tor Browser, What it is and How it Works
Tor Browser is the main access port for using the Tor network and ensuring anonymity; it is nothing more than a web browser based on the latest ESR version, i.e. Extended Release Support, with extended support, of Mozilla Firefox. This particular Firefox release is configured to automatically connect to the Tor network and optimized to leave no traces.
Tor makes all communications sent and received through an intrinsically insecure medium such as the Internet safe and unreadable to unauthorized persons.
Whenever Tor Browser requires any web page accessible with any browser or indexed by Google, data traffic – inbound and outbound – passes through the nodes of the Tor.
The exit node is the node of the Tor network through which direct data packets pass to the destination server exiting the encrypted network.
The destination server will never know the real public IP address assigned to the user by its Internet provider but will only detect the IP of the exit node.
Tor Browser does not only allow anonymous access to “public” websites, it also allows you to connect with so-called “hidden services”.
Using the Tor network it is in fact possible to set up servers to which addresses are assigned under the .onion top-level pseudo-domain.
We used the prefix “pseudo” because the .onion sites are not accessible from the normal network but only after connecting to the Tor network: we talk about dark web (Deep web and dark web, what it is and how it works).
The contents published in the dark web are therefore not accessible with the most popular browsers in their usual configuration; to consult them, however, you need to use software such as Tor Browser.
Ultimately, to connect to a website anonymously or to overcome censorship and geographical limitations, Tor Browser is the number one solution.
Tor Browser integrates, by default, also HTTPS Everywhere: the Tor network and Tor Browser allow you to convey data in encrypted form from your device until the exit node but obviously can not guarantee that the data does not travel unencrypted in the last stretch between the exit node and the final server. That’s why Tor Browser forces the use of the HTTPS protocol (encrypted data exchange) on all websites that allow it.
What’s New in Tor Browser
Tor Browser 7.5 was the first version of the program to support the new generation of Onion Services.
The Tor network has been in existence for 16 years and is repeatedly attacked to try to expose the identity of its users.
The Next Generation of Onion Services have been developed to continue to preserve the privacy and security of Tor users.
Among the main novelties of the new Onion Services, the use of even stronger cryptographic connections thanks to the use of algorithms such as SHA3, ed25519 and curve25519; a new protocol reveals an even smaller set of information at various nodes and further reduces the attack surface; a series of improvements related to the security of Onion addresses; a more effective synchronization/rendezvous protocol is used; a lighter, cleaner and modular source code; Onion v3 addresses 56 characters long.
The Welcome Screen
The window shown in the figure appears only to those who install Tor Browser for the first time (so not to those who have already installed the program and now simply update it to the latest release).
Click Configure only if you are in a country that blocks (state firewall) Tor data traffic (e.g. China, Turkey, Egypt) or if you need to use a proxy to connect to the Internet. Unlike before, it is now much easier to set up a bridge to use Tor even in countries with strict censorship. In other cases, just click on Connect to continue.
The use of a sandboxing mechanism in Windows by Tor Browser allows you to separate the contents opened in the browser from the underlying operating system.
Connecting with a site like DNSStuff you will notice that the public IP is absolutely not the one assigned by your provider and that generally it will belong to a foreign exit node.
The list of the nodes of the Tor attraverssati network can be consulted by clicking on the icon representing an “i” contained in a circle, to the left of the address of the site you are visiting.
As you can see, the last node corresponds to the IP detected by the remote server to which you are connected through Tor Browser.
Clicking on New Tor circuit for this site you can completely modify the list of nodes crossed to reach the requested page.
The initial node, referred to as Guard is a fast and stable relay that will remain unchanged during the next 2-3 months of use of Tor Browser. It is used to offer more protection against a known attack aimed at establishing the identity of a user and his real IP address.
The other nodes of the Tor circuit, as it is easy to verify, automatically change for each web page you visit.
Not only that. By clicking on the blue New Circuit button for this site, keeping the Guard node unchanged, you can ask Tor Browser to change all the others and the page being visited automatically reloaded.
Tor Browser, What The New Version Of The Program Is And How It Works
By clicking on the icon representing a small onion in the browser toolbar, you can request a New Identity: using this Tor Browser command will cleargn IP, it is pos the cache and reload the browser from scratch (as well as generate and use a new circuit).
Modifying the Tor Browser configuration file, after closing the program and as explained in the article Navigating on Tor with foreign IP or Italian in the paragraph Configuring Tor with a foreisible to exit the Tor network always with an IP of a particular country or always with the same exit node.
In the latter case, simply enter the following:
Instead of 126.96.36.199, you must specify the IP address of the output node of the Tor network. This can be chosen by noting the IP address of an exit node that appears by clicking on the “i” icon to the left of the address bar or it can be taken from this page.
This device is particularly useful for interfacing with websites that verify the origin of the request several times. Downloading a file, for example, may not be allowed when the client’s IP changes from one page to another.
Downloading Tor Browser allows you to install the version suitable for 32 or 64 bit Windows systems.
Tor Browser for Android is already available on the Play Store (the preview version was released by Tor Prioject in September 2018: Tor Browser for Android released as a preview); however, it still requires the presence of the Orbot application.
In fact, Tor Browser for Android is not yet a completely stand-alone application but, according to reports, it will soon be.