Home / 🌐Internet / 📡 Networks / Tor Network; What is it, how does it work, and how to connect securely to the anonymous network?

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When talking about Tor, in addition to the superhero, what comes to mind is the browser that allows us to access the deep web , which is so appealing to many. However, this does not work on the conventional internet, it does on a network of the same name, the so-called Tor network , which is special and is the one that truly preserves our identity; the browser, despite being the most well-known, is only an access tool.

The Tor network , as such, has plenty of time. However, its greater knowledge and the facilities to connect to it are quite new, not even two decades old. Its operation is very interesting and, above all, useful, so that it is increasingly used.

If you’re interested in learning more about it, what its features are, how to access and navigate it and what you’re exposed to if you do, keep reading because we’ll see it all.


What is Tor the Anonymous Network?

Tor la red an¢nima

Tor is a distributed network that overlays the Internet and has low latency launched in 2002 and continues to be updated continuously. Its main feature is that it does not reveal the identity of users when messages are exchanged between them, and it performs a routing that allows information to be sent in the most appropriate way according to the user’s needs and, of course, the characteristics of the network in question.

Another feature, in addition to the anonymity of the user (the IP), is the secrecy of the information being handled, which is kept intact. Its operation is based on onion routing , which makes messages travel to their destination via a large number of onion routers so that the trail is lost.

This is similar to peer-to-peer network , although it is not one of them. There are individuals and organizations that donate the bandwidth and processing capabilities of their computers. As the nodes that participate are distributed, and are completely changeable on each occasion, we find a network that, in general, is not attacked, as it is very difficult to knock down.

On the other hand, although it calls itself the anonymous network, the truth is that is not infallible , because although resists attacks and is flexible , it is not perfect.

In short:

  • It’s an anonymous network.
  • It is overlayed on the internet.
  • Works through voluntary nodes.
  • The information is encrypted to maintain its integrity.
  • This travels through several nodes.
  • Hard to attack.
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Interestingly, this type of network operation was designed to make U.S. Navy communications more secure, although it later became public domain and free.

How does Tor really work?

funcionamiento enrutamiento de cebolla

The operating system is called , as we have seen, “onion routing” , which works to guarantee the privacy of data and the anonymity of users. The routing work that is commonly done to consult websites, the work that you have done with your computer or mobile phone to read this, is straightforward.

This means that the device has made a direct connection to our servers, creating a simple route equipment-router-ISP-servers . Many data packets are sent on this route, and if someone were to intercept them, they would know where they were travelling from and where they were going.

Onion routing sends data packets through a non-direct path, making use of several nodes , which correspond to the systems of other users who connect and who give up their resources to enable such information exchanges.

The path followed, considering a computer A that sends messages and a computer B that receives them, is as follows:

  • Once inside the Tor anonymity network, A does a calculation on the route to B , having to go through some nodes along the way.
  • There is a node directory with which A is going to get the public keys to use.
  • The message is encrypted , using asymmetric encryption, like an onion, layer by layer.

    • First the key of the last node to be used is used, so that this is the only one that can decipher the message . On the other hand, we find instructions needed to get the information package to where it belongs.
    • An encrypted view, is sent to the first node.
    • This deciphers it and follows the instructions given.
    • The packet is encrypted again to reach another node, and so node by node until it reaches the penultimate one.
    • The further you go, the more protected you are by the various routing layers provided by the different nodes. It is worth mentioning that in this process the IP is being changed continuously.
  • The last node, the output node, is the one that sends the message to computer B .

With this process the data that is transmitted is not known . We only have the first connection node, which knows where the message is coming from, and the last, which knows where it is going. In fact, the rest of the nodes don’t even know where they are participating. So much so that even the existence of spy nodes would not be useful for getting the information you are distributing

How to connect and securely use the Tor anonymity network

Until not too long ago, the connection to this network brought with it a lot of inconveniences, it wasn’t exactly a fast or light process, being necessary the installation of several softwares that acted as proxies.

The solution to this is Tor Browser , which is a cross-platform browser designed specifically to be used, with total ease, precisely on the Tor anonymity network. All you have to do is:

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Download Tor Browser from the official website for Windows

Download Tor Browser at the official website for Mac

  • You will be able to choose the right executable depending on your operating system, its version, language, etc.
  • Install it like you do with any other software. You will be asked for a hosting path, consulted about creating a shortcut, etc. It’s not difficult or out of the ordinary.
  • Start it . Double-click on the folder that has been created and then on the browser launcher, “Start Tor Browser”. A window will open.
  • Connect to the network . Do this by clicking on the “Connect” button (if you have downloaded and installed it in English).
  • At this point, the browser will open and you can start using it right away.

On navigation , point out some little things (you can visit this article on the Tor browser ) to find out in detail what it is, how it works, how to configure it, etc):

  • You have several configuration options to graduate your privacy and security. These are very effective, but you should only use them if you know how to do so. As with any browser, these options are available in the menu bar.
  • Currently you have one default browser and can choose to have any other , as you usually do with Google, Yahoo!, Bing, Edge or other. You can do the searches you want and the main results will be those that are not indexed on the “normal” internet, i.e. those that are not usually accessible because they do not appear in conventional search engines.
  • There is another navigation method with Tor that is unique to Tor and is based precisely on site encryption. This consists of creating spaces (services) with .onion domain and with names that are a set of 16 automatically generated characters. In this way, no one enters by chance but must know the name of these services, known as “onion services”, which have added protections and are hidden in terms of location and IP.

Dangers and risks when surfing the Deep or Dark Web and how we can protect ourselves

riesgos de la deep web

When you go to work do not forget the following considerations to keep you always safe, we will see some interesting points that we have to take into account:

Do not enter sites related to us

Don’t even think about accessing your profiles on social networks, accounts on any kind of platform or your own website (login identification can be given in many ways), or visiting them. In the latter case it would be more difficult to relate to your browsing but it is still possible.

In addition, if you have a website with low traffic it is normal that it is not in the distributed network and that an outgoing relay administration identifier appears. They can enter our account, obtain information from it, make transactions on our behalf, suspend them…

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Nor do you use personal information

Never use any information about yourself , your name or your phone number, your postal address, names of friends (even if they don’t have a last name), old email addresses (if you need an account for something, create a temporary one with an application like TempMail )…

Falsifying your identity would be the best thing that could happen to you if someone managed to get hold of your personal information.

Nor do you talk about the deep web on your sites

Confessing that you have visited the deep web , and moreover giving data about what you have done, will only serve to allow someone to relate your activity to your identity . Don’t even think about linking to invisible sites, because you will easily know where they come from.

Uses a unique identity

The “lies have very short legs” thing is not an exaggeration. If you make up several profiles it’s more than likely that they will eventually relate in some way.

Encrypted information

When you have to send information, make sure you encrypt it well first . To do this, it is essential to make good use of the browser and use plug-ins such as HTTPS Everywhere , which ensures the security of the information on its way.

Do not alternate Tor with open WiFi

They must be used at the same time so that our MAC (your team’s identifying address) cannot be related to the activity you have carried out.

Nor with direct Internet connections

If we are two things at once we may get confused and end up sending data on a network that is not.

Do not use Tor on Tor

Use only one input and one output to the network , they are all you need. Creating more than one doesn’t make security any better, quite the opposite.

Do not use Bridges

These are the network relays that are not listed with the intention that they are not blocked by ISPs.

Do not change the Tor access settings

The default configuration of the access utilities is usually very appropriate. For that reason, if you’re not sure how to do it, it’s best to keep the default parameters . It is possible that, instead of improving your security, you could create large gaps that will end up making it possible to track your activity.

Flee from double authentication

The dual authentication methods require, in some way, a relationship between authentication and some personal information , necessary to achieve it.

Do not open received files

The files on the deep web or dark web are full of malware so it’s best not to download anything and, if you do by mistake, don’t open what you’ve received.


If you have any questions, leave them in the comments, we will answer you as soon as possible, and for sure it will be of a great help for other members of the community. Thank you! 😉


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