A: Get 100 consultants in a room, end up with 100 opinions.

A bit of background information for those not familiar with Tor. Tor was created by the US Navy as a method to create secure, anonymous internet communications. It was soon after released from restricted government use for use by anyone.

The way Tor works is it is a network – called the “Onion Network” – that consists of three gateways that anyone using Tor must pass through. This includes an entry node, middle node, and exit node. All traffic over Tor is encrypted, and because the exit node knows nothing about user data from the entry node, the data is well anonymized. The user needs to use a browser that understands how to use the Onion Network. The officially recognized browser for use is called the Tor Browser.

From my perspective, I can’t recommend the use of Tor at this point. My reasons are:

  • Due to the need to pass through 3 separate nodes, with encryption/decryption occurring at each, there is a huge latency (delay) introduced. This may slow down your internet work by as much as 4-10x.
  • The US government (and probably many other governments) have their own nodes in play. If you control a node, you have access to the decrypted data.
  • For the past few years a rogue player has installed around 900 nodes – out of a total of 9,000-10,000 total nodes. This one bad actor controls up to 10% of all nodes. Given that when using Tor you have to pass through 3 nodes, chances are around 30-35% your data will pass through one of theirs.
  • The entire Tor node system is volunteer, and from all reports, poorly managed and supervised. I can very well see that at least 50% of all nodes are controlled by bad actors.

What to Do

Instead of relying on Tor, I very strongly recommend the 24/7 use of a quality Virtual Private Network service (VPN). With VPN, all of your internet traffic is encrypted as it exits your device, where it travels to the VPN provider, is decrypted, and sent on its way. This prevents harvesting of your data by someone snooping on your Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or cellular connection, your Internet Service Provider (ISP), and anyone else up to the VPN provider. And since your data stream is intermingled with potentially thousands of other users as it leaves the VPN provider, it is impossible to isolate your data.

In addition, when using a quality VPN, your internet traffic is only slightly impacted by the encryption/decryption process – in fact, many users report their internet speed increases when using VPN, as a quality VPN can block some unwanted traffic from hitting you.

There are thousands of VPN providers available. Perhaps the majority are not quality providers and should not be trusted. My go-to vendor of choice is NordVPN at https://nordvpn.com