Configure Tor

How to configure Tor to navigate the deep web safely

Many already know that not everything that is on the Internet appears in Google, Yahoo, Bing or other search engines and that to access much of this content it is necessary to use special browsers such as Tor. However, many users are discouraged from downloading and investigating this browser, believing that it is dangerous or illegal to enter the deep internet. In this article, which includes a video, we'll walk through the steps to configure Tor to safely browse the deep web and share some safe sites for those interested in getting started.

Commonly the concepts of Deep web and Dark Web are confused, which generates more myths than facts and some unnecessary fear for many users. It is known as "Deep Web" or "deep Internet" to everything that is not indexed in search engines. That is, private or personal services that are only accessed by knowing the IP address. Within the Deep Web there are anonymous networks that are used by people who want to preserve their privacy or browse without censorship. In these networks there is a lot of interesting content, but due to their anonymity characteristics, they often lend themselves to illegal activities. This last portion of the Internet, where dangerous and illegal services are found, is known as the “Dark Web”.

How to configure Tor to browse safely

Among the anonymous networks known on the Deep Web, the Onion (or onion) network is the best known. To access it, it is necessary to do so through the popular Tor browser.

The first step is to download the latest version of the browser, which should always be done from the official site. It is available for Windows, Linux, Mac, and Android.

Installation is really simple. Just select the language and choose the installation folder. Actually, Tor is a portable browser, so the installer does nothing more than unzip the necessary files and add a shortcut.

The first time the browser is started, a wizard will open for one time with the options to configure Tor or connect it directly. In most cases, it is enough to connect, but in case you need to configure an outgoing proxy to the Internet or if the network has some type of surveillance or censorship, these options are available within the configuration.

When using Tor normally the Internet provider or network administrator can see traffic from the computer to an IP identified as a Tor node. In other words, although they will not see the traffic specifically, they can know that the user is browsing this network. To avoid this or evade censorship, “bridges” can be used, which are equal access points to the input nodes, but which are not publicly known. Using a bridge makes it more difficult, but not impossible, for someone to know that Tor is in use. Of course, since they are not public, it is not easy to get these bridges and many times it is best to build the bridge itself on a trusted computer and on a secure network.

Once connected to Tor, we recommend watching the small tutorial that we include at the end of this article in which we explain the basic operation of Tor. In the video you can see the privacy settings, security and also the operation of the "circuit", which is the route or nodes through which the connection is passing. It is important to know that the circuit can be renewed at any time. This causes a new route to be created passing through new nodes.

The protection node or "gatekeeper" is called the first node of the circuit. Generally it is a fast and stable repeater that remains fixed for 2 or 3 months. The reason for this is to protect the user from denial of service attacks and prevent the user from eventually entering and leaving through two nodes controlled by the same person after some circuit changes. In this way, the anonymity and stability of the connection is strengthened.

Since Tor is a Firefox-based browser, its settings and features are similar to the popular browser. Before starting to visit sites with TOR, it is advisable to check your browser settings to make sure that everything is in order. In addition, these settings can be modified at any time that the user needs.

Within the "Options" menu we find the General, Privacy and Security options and the particular Tor options. Within these, we recommend reviewing the following:

General - Updates: like any software, it is always better to keep it up to date, so the "Update automatically" option should be selected.

General - Language: in general when we start to use the browser in Spanish, it recommends us to change the language to English to make it even more difficult to be tracked. However, in our experience, it is just as safe to use the browser in Spanish or English.

Privacy & Security - History - Permanent private browsing mode: this option is similar to always opening the browser in "incognito" mode; In other words, it will never save the browsing history, cookies or any other file or trace of the sites visited.

Privacy & Security - Permissions: like any browser, in this section we will enable access to the location, camera, microphone and other devices of the equipment. For greater security, it is preferable to avoid granting these permissions to the sites we visit, especially the location.

Privacy & Security - Security: the security level determines the features that are enabled in the browser and the actions that the sites that are visited can take. Given that dangerous sites can often be found in the Deep Web, it is best to configure the browser in "Safer" mode, which prevents the execution of certain JavaScripts, some fonts and symbols and especially the automatic execution of audio, video and other multimedia files.

Tor - Bridges: here you can configure the repeaters (or bridges) in case you are connected to a censored network or if you do not want the network administrator to detect the use of Tor.

Tor - Advanced: here you can configure a proxy in case the network requires it, or set certain output ports in case the connection goes through a firewall that only allows certain ports.

Finally, within the configurations there is also the possibility of installing plugins, which allow you to expand the functionalities, as in any browser. However, it is preferable to avoid the installation of extensions, especially if they are not extremely trustworthy, since they could access the content and pages that are visited and compromise the privacy of the user.

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