Online privacy is a growing concern across the board. Facing increased threats from viruses, malicious software, spyware, and hackers, consumers and businesses are all racing to protect their privacy in the Information Age. While large-scale companies and enterprises face far bigger challenges when it comes to protecting their data, some consumers have found a simple solution in the way of the Tor browser.
What is the Tor Browser?
The Tor browser is a free and open-source tool that makes it possible for users to browse the Internet anonymously. While this can be achieved through other means, too, particularly VPNs (virtual private networks) and similar tools, they often involve additional costs and complex installations.
Anonymity, in this case, is due to the fact that all of Tor's Internet traffic is routed through an extensive overlay network with thousands of individual relays. While this method of anonymity isn't 100% secure, and users can still be tracked when using Tor, it's exponentially better than any of the mainstream web browsers available today.
Moreover, Tor doesn't hide the fact that it's being used. Internet service providers can determine if a customer is using Tor and, in some cases, certain websites have coding that prevents access through the Tor browser.
Primary Purpose of the Tor Browser
The Tor Browser is meant to protect personal privacy of users on the Internet. As a result, it has many legitimate uses. Not only is it a secure way of communicating on the World Wide Web, but it's been used by whistleblowers and watchdog groups to leak information in the past. In some cases, it's used by political correspondents when organizing events or to circumvent their local governments.
Unfortunately, the anonymity of the Tor browser makes it the ideal platform for hackers, identity thieves, and other nefarious users. Not only does it let the user visit most websites anonymously, but it also facilitates access to the dark web. The Silk Road, a popular dark web market that has since been shut down by law enforcement officials, was known for selling stolen credit cards, hacked accounts, firearms, and even illicit drugs.
As you can see, it's a double-edged sword. While the primary purpose of the Tor browser is to protect its users from the dangers of the modern Internet, it could have the opposite effect. In extreme cases, it might even expose a novice user to online threats that they would have never encountered on the Internet as we know it.
Complicating matters even more is the fact that Tor was originally developed with funding from the United States government. Some of the most prominent funders include the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Naval Research Lab. Originally created in the 1990s, it was officially made public in 2002 – the same time that it was transitioned to the open source format.
To say that the Tor browser is a controversial piece of software would be a vast understatement. Although it might not be the most well-known or recognizable web browser in use today, it's certainly made its share of headlines over the years.
Protecting Your Data with the Tor Browser
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