There are several options from which you can choose when you want to keep your privacy on the internet. Two most popular options – Tor Network and Virtual Private Network – are presented in this article.
Both methods will hide your IP address and let yor surf the web anonymously, you will be also able to access restricted websites, no matter whether they are geo-blocked, blocked by your ISP or even restricted by your government.
Tor stands for “The onion router” and protects you against traffic analysis. When you are reading some article online or watching funny cats you are sending and receving packets. Packets are simply bundles of data consisting of header and data payload. Data payload is for example phrase you are searching for, part of video or article you are reading online. Header contains data like origin (where it comes from), destination (where it goes to), size of packet and other ‘useful data’. Traffic analysis is used to track user by content of packet’s header, Tor prevents such tracking.
It does so by routing your packets through Tor relays which are scattered all over the world and randomly selected every ten minutes. Additionally packets are encrypted multiple times before getting to last computer (which is called the exit node). At exit node decryption is made and data gets to destination without revealing real source.
This way your ISP or anyone else won’t know which website you visit. Also each relay knows only IP address of previous and next relay, this means that operator of website you visit won’t know your IP address.
Virtual Private Network protects your privacy in different way. It masks your real IP address and encrypts all your internet traffic. When you surf the web you connect via VPN server that act as your proxy. Let’s say you want to watch some Youtube videos from China. As you may know Youtube is blocked in this country, so you have to use VPN. When watching video all your internet traffic is encrypted and goes through VPN server (which changes your IP) and then reaches it’s destination. Here’s the picture example.
As I mentioned earlier all your internet traffic is encrypted, so no one can spy on you. Your Internet Service Provider can only see that you are making encrypted connection.
As it happens in life everything has advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Tor are:
Disadvantages of Tor are:
Advantages of VPN are:
Disadvantage of VPN is:
If you need privacy occasionally and you don’t mind slow connection then choose Tor. It’s free and secure enough. If you don’t like being watched by government and you hate to wait for sites to load – choose one of available VPN services.