What is Tor: A Web Browser for Anonymous Surfing?

Tor is a popular web browser primarily used for anonymous internet surfing and protection against traffic analysis. Incidentally, the U.S. Navy originally designed Tor as a means to protect sensitive U.S. government information. Today, it is synonymous with the dark web, illicit activity, and free internet activists seeking to escape surveillance. 

There is a contingent of netizens using Tor to hide their illegal activity. However, a substantial component uses Tor for security reasons and has the purest intentions in usage. 

How Does Tor Work?

Tor utilizes a technology called onion routing. This form of routing is a peer-to-peer overlay network that allows users to surf anonymously. The technology deploys multiple layers of encryption to secure network users. Accordingly, users can bypass surveillance and censorship.

When using Tor, the browser sends data via Tor servers to an exit node. The exit node is the point where data leaves the network. The data then undergoes several layers of encryption before going to the next node. This process ensures that it is difficult to trace the origin of the data, which is the essence of browsing using Tor. Additionally, this browser does not track browser history or store cookies.

Tor has a default level of security and two additional levels. The lowest level provides more user-friendliness but lesser security. At the highest level, the browser even disables some fonts and images. These restrictions ensure that your browsing is as anonymous as possible.  Therefore, you may have to contend with slow internet and clumsy surfing for the prize of complete anonymity.

Is It Illegal To Use The Tor Browser?

Tor usage is not illegal. It is only a tool to access the internet anonymously. What you do with that anonymity determines whether you engage in illegality or not. Anonymity is an attraction for criminals who wish to communicate or surf without detection. That said, there is nothing inherently illegal about using the Tor browser. 

Can Tor Browser Be Detected?

Tor offers significantly higher anonymity than your regular browser. However, it is not 100% secure. Certain people can still see your browsing activity, even just part of it. 

For the record, your original location and IP address will be impossible to track for the most part. However, Node operators for the exit node can view some of your activity if you visit an unsecured website. Therefore, even on Tor, be careful about providing your location voluntarily.  

Can The Police Track Tor?

The answer is that it depends on their resources and level of training. Tor offers protection from your Internet Service Provider monitoring your activity. Staying anonymous on the internet is mostly about how you use the browser. 

Authorities can still monitor data from exit nodes, and if sufficiently connected, they can put two and two together to track individual users. It takes more time to track someone than the standard internet. Without a doubt, it requires sophisticated law enforcement like the FBI to uncover someone behind the specific activity. Therefore, one should not believe they are inherently undetectable on Tor.