Privacy on the Internet is an increasingly topical topic. The Snowden leak that explained the mass surveillance of the NSA has a lot to do with it, but also the hacks that companies such as Yahoo or the Democratic Party have been subjected to during the last US elections. Sensitivity to espionage is increasing.
And yet the Internet is very useful and necessary. And there are times that we want to have total anonymity but it seems impossible to achieve. That is why it has been around for years the TOR free software project, which is capable of keeping our identity hidden. Privacy is such that many criminal organizations use this software to commit crimes. And it is that through TOR we can navigate in a normal way but we can also access the Deep Web, a part of the Internet only accessible through TOR.
Many people think that TOR can only be accessed from a computer and that from an Android mobile it is not possible without having root access, but it is not true. It is very easy to access TOR and you just have to install a couple of applications. Let’s see it.
To manage the connection, Orbot
The first thing to do is connect to TOR, and for this you only have to install Orbot from Google Play. Orbot is the application that makes the connection to TOR and is published on Google Play by The Tor Project, the creators of the network.
Once installed, open the application and press the “Start” button. That easy. We are already connected to TOR. However, if now the browser or any application is opened, the connection does not go out there but through the normal Internet connection. To navigate through TOR it is necessary that the applications go out there and that is done either with specific applications that use TOR or with an experimental Orbot mode that directs the traffic of the applications through said network.
The safest thing is use specific appsAs ultimately you cannot tell whether Orbot’s experimental functionality is working properly or not. It is better, so that there are no mistakes, to use a specific browser to navigate through TOR, so there are no confusion.
To browse, Orfox
The browser that the people of The Tor Project make available to Android users is Orfox. Basically it is a modified version of Firefox so that it navigates by TOR. Just open the application and you can navigate. In fact, if you are not connected to TOR through Orbot, the browser is responsible for making the connection.
Orfox always opens the Deep Web links (the .Onion) with private browsing, but it also recommends installing Firefox extensions that provide more privacy. It is highly recommended to use them if we seek complete anonymity.
One thing you notice when browsing through TOR is that everything is very slow, pages are slow to load and sometimes crash. It is normal. TOR uses other computers like relays to make the traffic anonymous and makes everything go slow. It’s a bit maddening, but there’s not much to do.
I already have access to TOR, now what?
We have already seen that it is very easy is to connect to TOR on Android. And many of you will say: “well, what about the Deep Web? What can be done?”. The first thing is to know that when we browse through TOR they cannot know who we are, unless we make a mistake (for example, log in to Facebook and go to all the websites that have their plugins activated). Perfect anonymity for example for people browsing from countries where freedom of the press is not a recognized right.
On the other hand, it is also important to know that apart from the normal web pages there are some hidden pages (the .Onion) that are only accessible through TOR. They are servers that are always connected to TOR and cannot be accessed in any other way. You cannot physically know where they are, for example, and some are dedicated to issues of questionable legality.
How to find this type of website? The best thing here is to go to the Hidden wiki, where there are a good series of links from this type of website. The wiki changes its address from time to time but can be found directly in search engines, for example DuckDuckGo, which respects privacy better than Google and also indexes pages from the Deep Web.
Finally, if we want to know more, it is highly recommended to read Genbeta’s guide on what to do on the Deep Web. There, all our doubts will be resolved and we will be able to take better advantage of the connection to TOR from Android.
In Engadget Android | Tor Project creates a prototype of a super-secure mobile system that “respects the freedom of the user”