Steve Smith talks about the two ways you can use Tor with a VPN, and some of the up and down sides of doing so.
Episode #8-44 released on June 24, 2018
I am constantly spammed by companies to promote VPN services with TOR, obviously because they want to make money off my own hard work. I have talked about Tor in the past, too. I have, also, talked about VPNs in the past, as well. Thing is, I have never talked about them together, and there are a few reasons why. I will tell you what happens in either kind of configuration, and let you choose which method you prefer, if you wish to deploy such a model.
Let's start off with a point of fact, Tor, being decentralized, allows you to access web-sites with a dot onion domain extension, usually. Also, because Tor is decentralized, it is supposed to be protected against being taken down and protect your connection from being exposed to the Internet, too. This will depend on how you intend to use a VPN with Tor.
There are two methods, technically, to use Tor with a VPN.
The first method, which is the fastest to deploy, requires that you use a VPN, like PureVPN, and connect to the VPN first. Then you launch the Tor Browser, and this allows you to connect to Tor, and all of it's sites without issue.
The second method is to use a VPN, tunnel through Tor. The issue here being that you can access the public Internet, and everyone looking at your Tor traffic will know you have a VPN connection, too. The downsides are that you won't have access to dot onion web-sites, and the majority of VPNs do not allow this kind of functionality, either.
So, apparently the first method is the easiest, most likely scenario to get Tor to work with a VPN, but is that safer?
All your traffic will be encrypted leaving your computer, and your IP address will be hidden, too, due to the way VPNs work. However, your data leaving the exit nodes, regardless of scenario, can still be hacked or monitored. Leaving us with a distinct set of issues.
The issues with Tor are as follows
The traffic can be analyzed by anyone who can access it. While, using a VPN may prevent your ISP from accessing that data, it will not prevent the VPN's ISP from doing so.
Activities like torrenting will give you away. Torrenting is not private. And, if you only download Linux distros, other legal stuff, that won't be an issue, but it still means you can be tracked, regardless.
Your DNS looks up may, also, give you away. If you are an average user, you may not think about changing the lookup IP addresses for domain name servers, and because it is usually set up to use your ISPs DNS server, that can give you away online, too.
Because the exit node can be monitored, accessing web-sites that aren't secured may, also, lead to MITM access to your information. This means using login credentials, using personal or business email addresses, filesharing, etc. activities can definitely expose your identity and your computer to the world. Furthermore, things like device mac addresses, cookies, super cookies, device fingerprinting, can reveal who you are to the world, too. Let me be clear, you need to be absolutely sure you are doing everything to be anonymous when using Tor. And, many small things can associate your Tor traffic to your public online traffic.
So, does this mean that Tor doesn't work with VPNs?
Actually, unless the VPN service explicitly states that using a VPN through Tor is supported, the most likely scenario is using Tor in the VPN tunnel. However, when we talk about Tor, we talk about being anonymous online, too. For this reason, yes, it does work, but next week, I will be talking about the required steps to remain anonymous online while using Tor, VPN or otherwise. Just keep in mind, nothing is going to be 100% effective, you can only try to be as close to 100% as possible.
Host : Steve Smith | Music : | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Dot Net