As you may well be aware, we are being spied on while online. It’s no secret and I’m not a member of the tin foil hat society. It’s just a reality that’s public knowledge where companies such as those in the music industry have been charged with spying on those pirating their music and they’d go as far as planting viruses to discourage those from pirating anymore. Also, Microsoft recently with the new Windows 10 operating system has come forward and admitting that they spy on us for the purpose of providing a more streamlined and enjoyable computer experience. They all do it, but not many would admit it. Google also spies on us to see our location, where we’ve been, not just on the computer but in your phone, and they pop up recommendations from Google maps now. Basically the pop up says “We know you were at this restaurant, want to review it?”. How would they know unless they were monitoring what we do online and where we go with our smart phones when GPS is enabled?
Anyway, now that you know it’s happening basically all the time from every device from many companies, what can you do about it, if you do desire to be more private? There are many things you can do including clearly your browser cache and history every time you close your browser, but that’s after the fact. How about while you are surfing? This is where the Tor Project comes into play.
The Tor project offers anonymity while surfing. It’s an open-source (FREE) web browser that installs easily on Windows, Mac and Linux systems. Their website offers handy tips to help you be even more secure rather than just blindly assuming Tor does it all. It doesn’t protect you from everything.
If you are using webmail for email like Gmail or Hotmail, you’re protected while inside the Tor Browser, but if you are using a program like Outlook, Thunderbird, LiveMail or any other app, it is not within the Tor Browser, so it is not protected. To protect those apps and other applications online you will need to have your entire computer covered by another application. We’ll save that for another article.
How the Tor Browser works is it takes your IP address, which you can find out what it is currently by visiting www.whatismyipaddress.com and every website you visit will know this address. If you visit the same website in your Tor Browser, you will notice an entirely different IP address. It doesn’t just change your IP address, it gives you an IP address from another Country; and it doesn’t just give you one other IP address, it jumps you between 3 different Countries before getting to the final destination, so if someone wanted to trace your IP address, they would have a hard time because they would go to a fake address. Then once they find out that’s fake, they would have a hard time finding out what address behind that one you used, but then there is 3rd fake address before finally getting to your actual IP address provided by your Internet Provider (ISP).
It takes longer to open the browser because it has to jump through so many hoops to give you the anonymity you are looking for. Once open, you can view what IP addresses you’ve been given from which Countries by clicking on the picture of the onion in the top left corner of the web browser. Every time you open the browser, you connect to new servers, so you have new IP addresses through different Counties in a different order.
Below you can see from my computer, my IP address is hidden and goes through France, then to United States, then the UK before finally getting to the Internet. This means any website would see me as being in the UK rather than somewhere in Canada. 🙂 Even if they figured out the IP address behind the UK is USA, it’s still wrong, and if they were able to spend enough time to figure out France is behind the USA IP address, they still have to continue pushing to find out where I really am. By that time, the IP addresses all changed again, and simply too much time has passed and those host providers would have deleted their log files (Evidence deleted). Most people wouldn’t have the time or resources to even attempt this.
Although you are anonymous, don’t do anything illegal or mean. There’s always a way to get caught. If the police don’t get you, Karma will.