Is Tor Browser Safe?
With the need for a safer and secure way to access the internet without being spied upon, the importance and popularity of TOR has come leaps and bounds. Many people are turning to TOR browser instead of regular web browsers such as Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and more to keep their identity protected online and ensure their anonymity.
What is TOR?
For those who don’t know about TOR, it is shortened for The Onion Router and is web browsing software which helps to protect your identity while surfing the web. The internet data and traffic to and from your device is routed via random servers on TOR network which makes it impossible for anyone to track your location.
Why do you need TOR?
The most basic advantage for which the TOR was designed and builds was to provide the internet users with a platform and network that will protect their identity online. TOR helps to maintain a user’s anonymity on the web by protecting them from being tracked by other people or service providers.
However, there are a few people on the web who also use TOR to take part in a number of illegal activities on the internet. This part is known as the Dark Web and is a place of the web from which you need to stay as far away as possible.
Is TOR Safe to Use?
The answer to this question depends upon the reason for which you want to use TOR. If you just want to protect your identity online and maintain your anonymity on the internet, then TOR is the best option for you. TOR network helps to maintain your privacy by ensuring that your internet traffic is routed via a number of random exit nodes and relay points spread all over the world. This makes it impossible for people to track your identity online.
However, if you want to access the deep web/dark web, in particular, you must know that TOR network has been breached a couple of times in the past. While it is the most secure thing available right now on the internet, there are still a number of limitations and risks associated with using the TOR. These risks are as follow:
Exit Nodes can be sniffed
As mentioned above, your Internet traffic is routed through a number of random relays on TOR network before it reaches you. The whole network is designed in such a way that it impossible to determine from where the traffic is initiated. Each relay helps to add an encryption layer on the data making it safer to route.
However, these data packets need to eventually emerge out of the Tor network to connect to servers of the websites you need to access. The point from where these packets exit TOR network is known as the exit nodes. This node can be easily monitored or tracked by people trying to know about you. It is ok if you accessing encrypted websites (HTTPS) but unencrypted websites can still be hacked into for your data.
Adobe Flash and Adobe Reader are external plug-ins and applications which can leak your real IP Address on TOR network. To avoid your data leak, try to not change your TOR browser settings and avoid using external applications alongside TOR network.
Never Run an Exit Node
The whole Tor network is run by a group of volunteers spread across the globe. The people behind the network are always on the lookout for people who can contribute in the network by providing their bandwidth to run Tor relay or exit node.
While running a Tor relay is find as you need to pass encrypted data front and back into the network, running an exit node can lead you into trouble. Most criminals use the Tor network for illegal purposes and if your system is used as an exit node for their traffic, the whole illegal activity leak will be traced back to your IP Address.
Always avoid running a TOR network exit node on your device as any mischief from your exit node can be traced back to you.
The Bottom Line
The safety of the Tor Browser is dependent upon your usage of the Browser. If your ultimate goal for using it is to maintain your anonymity on the internet, then it is safe for you to use.
However, if you are looking to access dark web using TOR browser, then you must realize that there has been instances where TOR network was breached and security was compromised.