Do you use a Tor browser to make yourself anonymous on the internet? Want to make it better? Try using the Tor browser for a Linux machine running Ubuntu.
What is a Tor browser? It is a browser that works in conjunction with the Tor network. The Tor Network utilizes a technology called onion routing which is designed to encrypt internet traffic in layers. Every layer addresses to a node. Each layer knows only the next node or onion router the packet needs to be sent to or relayed to. This layering of internet traffic allows anonymous communication. All of this leads to accessing something called the Dark Web or Darknet which are sites that you normally can’t get to through Google or any normal browser.
The Darknet isn’t just a place where people go to do illegal activity. It also provides a refuge for whistleblowers. Journalists can utilize Tor browsers to ensure privacy and secure communication with their sources. While the Darknet does have its fair share of illegal activity, it also has areas where information can be freely accessed without censorship.
Understanding the Darknet
Normal websites use something called DNS or Domain Name Server. It simple terms it associates a website url to an IP address. When you type in https://www.google.com/ your computer sends out a request. This request goes to DNS servers that return the actual IP address that the website is. If you ever want to see this in action, go to the command line in your OS. Do a ping command to Google. This will allow you to see the actual IP address you are communicating to Google with. Tor browsing is different in that it doesn’t use DNS. This means that unless you know the specific address of the website, you can’t get there.
This also means that Google doesn’t index those sites either. For Google to present that page as a page result anytime you do a search, Google has to index the site. This means that Google scans the site for content. Each page is indexed by Google. That way, Google can present a possible result of your query. In these two major ways, these sites stay off the grid.
Why the Tor Network Needs Their Own Browser
Most browsers are designed to allow it to collect information about you as a user. It stores passwords so you don’t forget them. It stores browsing history so you know which sites you’ve been to. It also allows you store cookies on the computer. These cookies store information about you and other details. For the largest part, these cookies allow you to get advertisements based on your general interest. Have you ever been to Facebook and seen something advertised that you were thinking about buying? Now, clear out your cookies and go to the page. The advertisement that you see will be different. This is an example of how cookies are used. Unfortunately, these cookies can also be used to track you.
The downside to the Tor Network is that it only keeps secure communications within the network. Once the packet leaves the network, it is no longer secure. The Tor browser helps with this. The browser is designed as to not store any information on you. However, certain precautions still should be taken.
Why Use Linux Over Windows
There are a few reasons why you should use Linux over Windows. The first one is that Linus is open source. This means that anyone can look at the code, share and collaborate to make it better. At first thought, this sounds like a bad idea. However, the more people that can work on it the better it will be.
Another downside is that Linux doesn’t just automatically give you administrator privileges. Windows does this. The first person that sets up the computer with their profile normally has administrator privileges by default. This can be bad in that this allows the user to be able to do whatever they want. It makes it more difficult to get the user to do something when they don’t have the rights and privileges to do so.
The next downside to using Windows with the Tor browser is numbers. Hackers develop code that will affect as many as clients as they possible can in the shortest amount of time that they can do it in. This means that they will write code for whatever OS they think will impact the most people. Windows still has the market when it comes to OS. Hackers use this to their ability.
Installing a Tor Browser for a Linux Computer Running Ubuntu
The first step is going to the website. Go to https://www.torprogject.org. On the left side of the page, click on “Installing Tor on Debian/Ubuntu “. Scroll down to Option Two. There, it will tell you not to use the packages in Ubuntu’s universe. Next, the site gives you the link to Wikipedia page will show you the different Ubuntu versions. Next, there are a series of dropdown menus. Depending on what you pick on, you will get a list of instructions on how to set up Tor. For example, if you chose “Ubuntu Lucid Lynx” as your OS with the Tor version as “stable” come not from the source, it will look as below:
You need to add the following entry in /etc/apt/sources.list or a new file in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/:
deb http://deb.torproject.org/torproject.org lucid main
deb-src http://deb.torproject.org/torproject.org lucid main
Then add the gpg key used to sign the packages by running the following commands at your command prompt:
gpg –keyserver keys.gnupg.net –recv 886DDD89
gpg –export A3C4F0F979CAA22CDBA8F512EE8CBC9E886DDD89 | sudo apt-key add –
You can install it with the following commands:
$ apt-get update
$ apt-get install tor deb.torproject.org-keyring
Once that is done, you can move on to set two. Set two is how to configure your applications to use Tor. It’s important to note here that applications don’t natively use Tor automatically. This means that internet traffic that doesn’t use a browser will not be protected. You have to configure your applications to route their traffic through the Tor browser. Firewalls will need to be updated. After that, you should have a working Tor browser.