Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The myth of TOR

This video claims, quite outrageously and erroneously, that 'It scrambles web addresses into a jumbled series of characters" then they display a 'startpage' search for leucochloridium paradoxum as some form of proof of this random shit they are speaking of... Ironic that a parasitic flatworm should be their chosen example of random text.

What it can be used for is obscuring your IP address while you surf the web, which does mean that criminal activities on a forum or message board are harder if not outright impossible to trace back to your ISP account. So the 'add an an ounce of truth to ten pounds of bullshit' equation does rear it's ugly head.

There are sites operating in a .onion domain and the silk road they mention is one of them, These sites are not easy to find and they are not accessible from your main browser. These sites are slow and do not give me a warm and cozy feeling that I would like to send off my bit-coins in hopes of actually receiving a box of cannabis seeds. But I can still see how they might be useful in a freedom of speech context, though, I am not about to start hosting a blog there as I doubt I would ever find any readership that way.

I'd post examples of what I saw there, but, in all honesty, just being there granted me a paranoid nervousness that felt I was being tracked for whatever reason. I will say that the silk road is mostly a drug den looking site with over 10k worth of items in the drug category and 640 items under digital tools, which mostly related to TOR.

The TOR software itself is really just a firefox launcher which obtains an IP address from the TOR relay, then opens a 'private browser session' in Firefox using the TOR relay as a proxy...

Each time browse to a new site your IP address will be reported to the server you are interacting with as being different than the IP the last server you interacted with knew because your traffic is running through a relay:

That is not to say that this will hide your 'surfing while you are supposed to be working' activities because there are many underhanded ways that corporate networks can still spy on you while you are using their equipment. So this is not a license to spend 6 hours of your workday on facebook, unless you work at facebook, in which case, knock yourself out. I'm also not sure that this works if you are contained within the great firewall of China at all... Most importantly, if law enforcement suspects you are committing heinous acts from your home computer, it would not prevent them from tapping your traffic at the ISP hoping to pick up any non-encrypted traffic...

So I would not suggest that this is a 100% cure to becoming invisible online... In fact, at best it simply throws off all the data mining ad selling companies who seek to spam you out with ads 'geared towards you' while you surf, and even then, you have to remain very conscious of what you are doing in this 'anonymous /semi-stealth mode' because once you've checked your Gmail or started making online purchases all bets are off.

And forget about Torrent and illicit copywrong downloads, because first: the download speeds would be horrendously slow, and second, your torrent software rats you out by ignoring the slow tor proxy and finding a fast connection, like the direct one using your ISP assigned IP address.

So TOR, is something you might use to hide anything from dissent to human trafficking, but it isn't really user friendly. And I would not even call it 100% idiot-proof as a means of covering your tracks, and it's VERY VERY slow.


1 comment:

  1. Another important thing to note: This began as a military project so how do we know it isn't still a military project masquerading as a wretched hive of scum an villainy? Oh, wait, much of the military is a wretched hive of scum and villainy, so maybe it's not actually masquerading at all...