Jump to content


 


Register a free account to unlock additional features at BleepingComputer.com
Welcome to BleepingComputer, a free community where people like yourself come together to discuss and learn how to use their computers. Using the site is easy and fun. As a guest, you can browse and view the various discussions in the forums, but can not create a new topic or reply to an existing one unless you are logged in. Other benefits of registering an account are subscribing to topics and forums, creating a blog, and having no ads shown anywhere on the site.


Click here to Register a free account now! or read our Welcome Guide to learn how to use this site.

Photo

Tor or VPN? What's best and how are they different?


  • Please log in to reply
68 replies to this topic

#1 iamafreeman

iamafreeman

  • Members
  • 22 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Local time:07:23 PM

Posted 15 May 2015 - 06:52 AM

I'm new to computers and interested in keeping my searches and internet use to myself.  I've heard about Tor and VPN but don't really understand how they differ.

 

If you use a VPN do you still search via your normal browser (say Google or Firefox) and can your ISP not still see what searches you are making anyway or is the whole thing encrypted?

 

How does Tor differ from a VPN?  Would using a VPN make banking and investing on line safer?

 

Finally I am interested in anonymous browsing out of bloody mindedness in that I object to the state interfering and poking its nose into other peoples' business on principle especially after the disclosures of Edward Snowden and how they seem to want to spy on even us honest citizens.  (rant over) 

 

Any advice most welcome. Thanks.



BC AdBot (Login to Remove)

 


#2 HPPaviliondv6910

HPPaviliondv6910

  • Members
  • 1 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Local time:11:23 AM

Posted 15 May 2015 - 08:55 AM

I pretty much have the same questions regarding the difference and would invite any expert opinion on the subject as well.  

 

Its intriguing 



#3 rp88

rp88

  • Members
  • 2,967 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Not Telling
  • Local time:06:23 PM

Posted 15 May 2015 - 03:46 PM

You can search and use the regular internet in just the same way as you normnally would in any other browser whilst using tor and most VPNs. tor comes with a firefox based browser included, so the experience of using tor is much like using normal firefox. VPN systems are designed so your computer can connect to them along a secure link and use this as a tunnel out to the wider internet, they should be compatible with any browser. Websites will usually work fine in these tor or through a VPN hwoever if you want to use flash based or toher plugin based content on the website then you won't be able to do this. This is because if you need to stay anonymous then there are risks that plugins being run might not always connect from your machine trhough tor/the VPN and then to the site you are visiting but might instead connect directly from you to the site. If a plugin did this it would undo everything that tor or a VPN is doing for you, so tor ( and some VPNs probably) will not let you install plugins into the browser.


If you use either tor or a VPn your ISP cannot see what you are doing, all the ISP will know is that you have got an encrypted connection to a tor node or a VPN server, they won't know what you are doing through this so won't be able to see the sites you visit and data you might enter into them. Tor specifically sets up a link from you to a random tor node, then randomly around amongst internal tor nodes, then out from a random* tor node. * You can however set this one to a particular country you want to appear to be browsing from as far as the sites you visit are concerned. The link from you to the first node is encrypted by a secure https like system (any man-in-the-middle snoopers, be they ISP, governements, individuals on the same wi-fi network as you... can only see you have connected to tor and approximately how many megabytes are passing through, they can't see what those megabytes contain data wise), then the internal node links are encrypted, the node out of tor and onto the wider internet is enerypted if you are visiting an https site, but un-encrypted if you are browsing an http site. The encryption is designed such that it should be impossible for any single node within the tor network that you data passes through to decrypt it. VPNs are a bit different in that you connect by secure connection to a VPN server then it goes straight to the wider internet from the VPn server, so you have a faster connection, but lose the extra privacy of those multiple steps within the tor network. VPNs might sometimes keep logs of activity, tor does not.

Tor, or a VPN will not generally make logging into secure sites like banks or emails any more secure, those things should be secure anyway, the most that a man-in-the-middle snooper should be able to tell about this sort of traffic is that you are visiting those sites, not what private data you are sneding and receiving from them. Ordinarily when you log into a secure website you will already have an https tunnel from you to it, snoopers could tell you were connected to your bank/email but couldn't see what was in the traffic. If you connect to these sort of things through tor or a VPN then you have a secure link to the VPN/tor entry node, some secure links within tor (or no internal links in a VPN), then a secure link from tor/the VPn to the site you are visiting. If the VPN's owner can be utterly trusted, or if tor is as secure as it generally is thought to be then you would be in exactly the same security situation as with a direct connection, if the VPN isn't run by someone trustworthy they could snoop on the passing data which would have stayed private had you used a normal direct connection.

Although there are some special circumstances involving wi-fi systems, tor or a VPN doesn't usually make the content you pass to an https website, or the content it sends back, any more secure. What tor or a VPN can do though is allow you to browse anonymously, if you don't want your ISP to see which sites you visit, or allow you to visit sites which are either blocked in your local area (by someone like your ISP between you and the wider internet), or allow you to visit sites which wouldn't usually show content to viewers coming from the region you are in, but will show content if they think you are elsewhere on the globe.


You should never use public wi-fi to access private things like banks or main email accounts, only ever do this from secure home connections.


The tor website provides some fairly detailed yet still easy to understand explanations about all matters relating to tor, for VPNs the principles of how they work are similar but things will vary with provider. most VPNs are paid for, tor is free.

Edited by rp88, 15 May 2015 - 03:47 PM.

Back on this site, for a while anyway, been so busy the last year.

My systems:2 laptops, intel i3 processors, windows 8.1 installed on the hard-drive and linux mint 17.3 MATE installed to USB

#4 VecchioScarpone

VecchioScarpone

  • Members
  • 219 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Not Telling
  • Local time:04:23 AM

Posted 16 May 2015 - 01:33 AM

Websites will usually work fine in these tor or through a VPN hwoever if you want to use flash based or toher plugin based content on the website then you won't be able to do this. This is because if you need to stay anonymous then there are risks that plugins being run might not always connect from your machine trhough tor/the VPN and then to the site you are visiting but might instead connect directly from you to the site. If a plugin did this it would undo everything that tor or a VPN is doing for you, so tor ( and some VPNs probably) will not let you install plugins into the browser.

 

rp88

 

If I understand correctly, having plugins like flash installed on the browser and for instance by visiting any site, as soon as one allow flash to activate, say for streaming a content, that would defeat the purpose of having a VPN or Tor browser, or any other strict browser privacy settings for that matter, if the goal one wish tho accomplish is absolute privacy and anonymity.

Would it be the same case for other extensions like WOT, uBlock etc?

 

Regards,

 

 

VS


Edited by VecchioScarpone, 16 May 2015 - 01:37 AM.


#5 iamafreeman

iamafreeman
  • Topic Starter

  • Members
  • 22 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Local time:07:23 PM

Posted 16 May 2015 - 04:51 AM

rp88

 

That's a very detailed and helpful response thank you.

 

You have explained it very well and if I understand properly Tor is probably as good as using a VPN for most purposes.

 

One thing that puzzles me a little I thought from what little I had read that you could watch video or whatever from sites

located in another country - for example people wanting to watch BBC iplayer who are not in the UK and some movie

sites in the US not available in other countries but if flash doesn't work how can that be? Am I missing the point here?

 

If flash is enabled, however, it would make your traffic visible to your ISP or anyone else presumably which is defeating the object

of using Tor or a VPN if I understand you correctly?

 

The bit about banking is interesting I don't use internet banking as I don't trust the free anti virus software I use to protect

me and wondered if Tor would make the transaction safer - not so it seems. Shame!!

 

Puzzled about the flash/video bit but very grateful for your time and trouble in responding.

 

Best wishes.



#6 rp88

rp88

  • Members
  • 2,967 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Not Telling
  • Local time:06:23 PM

Posted 16 May 2015 - 10:01 AM

post #4
"having plugins like flash installed on the browser and for instance by visiting any site, as soon as one allow flash to activate, say for streaming a content, that would defeat the purpose of having a VPN or Tor browser"
Correct. However SOME extensions and plugins might work alright with tor, for example tor comes (atleast it did when I last used ti years ago) with NoScript built in, this extension obviously does work well with the tor system or they wouldn't provide it. Noscript does something pretty similar to ublock. Other extensions and plugins probably do exist which respect tor's method of connecting from you to a site you visit via a chain of multiple anonymised links, if you want to run a particular extension or plugin through tor you will need to do some research about that particular plugin/extension.


Post #5:
If a video is flash based and country restricted tor won't usually be able to play it, you could installl flash into tor but doing so would make your anonymity collapse and the site you were visiting would quickly realise you were not from the country your tor IP claimed you were from, and it would refuse to play the content. Some VPNs probably exist which are designed to work well with flash, these would have better success in use for such a purpose. If a video is html 5 based then it might well be able to be played through tor.

If you don't trust your antivirus look into one of these instead: avast, AVG, bit defender free, all are free and should be trustworthy, I use avast, used to use AVG. The type of protection an antivirus offers is quite different to what you need for securely logging into websites (bank/email) and very different to the type of "protection" tor or a VPN offers.
An antivirus keeps your system free of malicious programs, it can be strengthened by running an antimalware tool or some second opinion scanners alongside it, or a scriptblocker in your browser.
Security for logging into banks/email accounts is mainly controlled by the browser, but also important is making sure you are using a trustworthy connection to the internet. Basically if your browser has a successful https connection to the secure website, and you are using a safe connection (like your home one, not a public wi-fi one) and you know your system is virus free then you are safe to log into secure sites without having your password stolen.
The "protection" offered by tor or a vpn is not against malicious software or hackers, tor and VPNs protect you against being spied on online, they allow you to browse without letting your ISP, government or people on the same network as you know what sites you are visiting. Things like tor can be useful: for those with a need to post things online without leaving tracks back to them in the real world, for those who live somewhere where the government/ISP/someone on their network heavily censors or monitors their activity, for those who want to see what sites look like for users in other parts of the world (news sites sometimes only display certain content to visitors who's IP address corresponds to certain regions), for those who would like to maintain two or more utterly separte online personalities, VPNs are also used by some companies to allw employees to remotely access their internal facilities in a secure way. Basically think of the private browsing functions in your browser, recall the sorts of warnings you see on the page when private browsing windows are opened "private browsing lets you browse without leaving traces on your machine, it does NOT keep your activity secret from your ISP, government, network administrator, people standing over your shoulder.", tor lets you browse in a way like private browsing but with tor only the people looking over your shoulder can see what you are doing.

Edited by rp88, 16 May 2015 - 10:02 AM.

Back on this site, for a while anyway, been so busy the last year.

My systems:2 laptops, intel i3 processors, windows 8.1 installed on the hard-drive and linux mint 17.3 MATE installed to USB

#7 iamafreeman

iamafreeman
  • Topic Starter

  • Members
  • 22 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Local time:07:23 PM

Posted 16 May 2015 - 10:29 AM

Hi, rp88

 

Another excellent reply I really am grateful for your help and detailed explanations. Thank you.

 

A lot of useful stuff which I have taken on board!!

 

Best wishes. 



#8 VecchioScarpone

VecchioScarpone

  • Members
  • 219 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Not Telling
  • Local time:04:23 AM

Posted 16 May 2015 - 12:30 PM

rp88

 

Much appreciated.

 

VS



#9 shival

shival

  • Members
  • 38 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Local time:08:23 PM

Posted 18 May 2015 - 04:58 PM

I wish to add one thing; if you really care about privacy/security, TOR is better.

Most VPN providers (if you buy it, instead of setting your own one) will sell you, if its needed. As far I remember, hide my ass once keeped logs of a hacker. So what if your ISP cant see you, if your VPN provider can. https://invisibler.com/lulzsec-and-hidemyass/

 

In TOR getting yourself busted is close to impossible - biggest TOR security fail happened because of Java.

The problem is, browsing on TOR is much, much slower for most people.



#10 VecchioScarpone

VecchioScarpone

  • Members
  • 219 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Not Telling
  • Local time:04:23 AM

Posted 20 May 2015 - 01:48 PM

In my case Tor would be a limitations as I don't have much to worry about my internet activities. In the other hand I religiously respect others privacy and expect mine to be respected too. Also I value security, for myself and my family.

I'm painfully aware how determined some people are to snoop on others either for extortion of some kind, the pure fun of it, trolls, and on goes the list. What to speak of policing ones activities, and only God knows what meaning these agencies can construct by a misplaced word.

Call me paranoid, I might as well be, but not without good cause.

 

:luke:  



#11 rp88

rp88

  • Members
  • 2,967 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Not Telling
  • Local time:06:23 PM

Posted 21 May 2015 - 08:50 AM

As I think I said earlier, most people don't need to use TOR all the time, but it is worth knowing about, for anyone who ever does. Or maybe for the future, if it's as dark and depressing as some people suggest it might be. Think how much better off Winston Smith (George Orwell's 1984) would have been if he had been able to run Tails and Tor on his telescreen.

Edited by rp88, 21 May 2015 - 08:53 AM.

Back on this site, for a while anyway, been so busy the last year.

My systems:2 laptops, intel i3 processors, windows 8.1 installed on the hard-drive and linux mint 17.3 MATE installed to USB

#12 VecchioScarpone

VecchioScarpone

  • Members
  • 219 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Not Telling
  • Local time:04:23 AM

Posted 23 May 2015 - 02:19 PM

As I think I said earlier, most people don't need to use TOR all the time, but it is worth knowing about, for anyone who ever does. Or maybe for the future, if it's as dark and depressing as some people suggest it might be. Think how much better off Winston Smith (George Orwell's 1984) would have been if he had been able to run Tails and Tor on his telescreen.

 

Tools like Tor and VPN are useful tools to protect, enhance, security and privacy and give some peace of mind. To be cautious doesn't necessarily denote that one is depress or pessimistic. 

Today is yesterday future. Everyday the future is here. In life it's a matter of balance, without it one is his worse enemy. 

 

Regards,

 

VS

:)


Edited by VecchioScarpone, 23 May 2015 - 02:32 PM.


#13 technonymous

technonymous

  • Members
  • 2,474 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Local time:11:23 AM

Posted 23 May 2015 - 05:40 PM

Connecting to a TOR or VPN is not necessary to do any online banking or credit card transactions. Those transactions are secured through website SSL, and those merchant websites must be PCISSD compliant and routinely audited to ensure integrity. The main reason to use a VPN is to connect two networks together and secure the data between them using SSL. Connecting to an unknown TOR or VPN server before connecting to the outside world is a mistake. Reason being, anyone can spin up a TOR or VPN server. So you are litterally setting yourself up for some hacker to effectively execute a man in the middle (MITM) attack. In order for a MITM attack to occur they must tap the line itself and or be on the same network. By using a TOR,VPN, proxy that is exactly what you're doing. If you can't say for certain that you trust that network, or if you are the the owner of the server, then you shouldn't use it period.


Edited by technonymous, 23 May 2015 - 05:43 PM.


#14 VecchioScarpone

VecchioScarpone

  • Members
  • 219 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Not Telling
  • Local time:04:23 AM

Posted 23 May 2015 - 08:48 PM

 

'Food for thoughts'. Thanks.

 

I'm truly a beginner when it come to IT.

I'll look into what you say, do some in depth research.

Incidentally somehow I never used VPN for my banking, relaying instead on my bank IT team and my security Apps settings.


Edited by VecchioScarpone, 24 May 2015 - 03:29 AM.


#15 O.T.T.

O.T.T.

  • Members
  • 172 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Not Telling
  • Local time:07:23 PM

Posted 24 May 2015 - 09:41 AM

More "Food for thoughts"...  :devil:

 

Use a VPN on your host machine and fire up Whonix in VirtualBox.

It doesn't get more anonymous than that but the last exit Tor-node can still read everything when connecting to a http-site...

 

I think a "trusted" VPN is better for privacy and Tor is better for anonymity !

Anonymity AND Privacy are sometimes hard to combine...

 

OTT


Please ask Google why some of my links don't work anymore !





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users