During our normal daily browsing, many information regarding what we do is stored locally on our PC, some of them are automatically shared with various websites that we visit and many are sent to our Internet service provider (ISP).
The incognito browsing option or anonymous browsing is now present in all browsers but in reality does not allow us to surf in a totally anonymous way.
This option does not hide our IP address and allows the websites that we visit to obtain information about the origin of the connection, the operating system used and also the installed browser version.
The value of incognito browsing is that of not leaving traces of navigation just carried out on our PC (history of the pages visited, cookies, passwords or completed forms, etc.).
For a true navigation anonymously you need to be able to often hide or change your IP address so as not to be easily traceable, in addition to encrypt the data traffic we generate so that even if it was intercepted it would be difficult to decipher and to read.
Tor Browser: browse anonymously with ease
To hide and frequently change our IP address there is a suitable browser to use for navigation, the browser we recommend is Tor Browser (available for all PC platforms).
It is a modified version of Mozilla’s browser and allows you to surf completely anonymous because it automatically makes a connection to the TOR network ( The Onion Router ).
In this network, data traffic does not travel in a traditional way directly from client to server and vice versa, but is transmitted through a more complex and encrypted virtual circuit made up of a multitude of Onion Routers.
Each Onion Router is a node of the Tor network and is made available by trusted volunteers who donate part of their band for free to users of this network, so they can surf anonymously.
The communication protocol used by the Tor network has been specifically developed to guarantee the secrecy of the data conveyed, their integrity and the control of network congestion.
These features are ensured by the fact that the Tor network does not in any way put the user in direct communication with the final destination of the request.
The data packets through the network consisting of Onion Router at random and dynamic, these routers also erase all traces of the package that has crossed them at the same time ignoring the source and the final destination of those packets.
So let’s see how to install and use Tor Browser.
Install Tor Browser
By going to the download page through this link we can choose the version most suited to our operating system, choose the correct language from the drop-down menu and start downloading the file by clicking on the purple button with the word DOWNLOAD.
“The guide was made using a Windows PC but the steps to follow are similar for MacOS and Linux.”
In the case of Windows, the download will allow us to obtain a .exe file that we can install by double clicking. At the start of the installation we will ask the language to be used and the path in which to save the browser files (the desktop of our user by default).
This browser is in fact portable and does not require a real installation, but the process consists in extracting the files needed for operation in a destination path, by default the desktop.
Once the extraction is complete we will be asked if we want to start the browser immediately and if we want to add a shortcut to that browser in start (operations that can be done also afterwards).
Once the extraction is finished, a folder containing all the necessary files will be available on the desktop from which we can start the TOR browser:
In the Browser folder, there are all the files necessary for the browser to work properly and are not to be changed unless you know what you are doing. To start surfing anonymously on the internet, just double-click on Start Tor Browser.
At the start the following screen will appear:
For most users it is sufficient to click on connect to make the connection to the Tor network in a few seconds and start surfing anonymously. For the most demanding there is the configure option that allows you to change some connection options depending on your Internet service provider (ISP), which could in some cases prevent the connection to the Tor network or in case you use a proxy server for the connection.
In any case, for more information about the most advanced browser options we suggest referring to the support page on the Torproject.org website.
Clicking connect we will have to wait a few seconds for the actual connection, after you open the home page of the browser where we can not only enter our research, to test our connection to the Tor network:
Or even check, through the icon that resembles an onion, at the top left, which are the nodes that our requests circuits before reaching the World Wide Web. In my case the nodes are these:
If you have not had any problems or errors when connecting to the first start of the browser you can safely start surfing in total anonymity without leaving traces on your PC or informing your ISP of all the pages you visit.
Unfortunately, anonymity requires a small price to pay, browsing through the Tor network is not as immediate as that carried out through a normal browser, to remain totally anonymous while browsing with you need to follow some rules:
- Do not download files through the Tor Browser: for the download of the files, the connection is changed and becomes direct as in the normal operation of the network, thus making visible your IP address.
- Use HTTPS verification of sites: it imposes stronger encryption on our traffic, preventing it from being easily seen by anyone.
- Do not enable or install other browser plug-ins: plug-ins such as Flash, RealPlayer etc. they can easily reveal the IP address of our connection.
In any case, Tor Browser will show suggestions to follow during navigation that will prevent us from leaving anonymity.
Tor for Android and iOS
The growing use of mobile devices for internet connection has led to the development of specific applications to allow users to remain anonymous on the Internet in case the connection is made through mobile devices.
For Android the free Orbot Browser is available, while for iOS the reference browser for a completely anonymous browsing is Onion Browser. Both browsers rely on the Tor network and function exactly like Tor Browser.