Stuck behind a firewall restricting your access to the Internet? You may have already tried HotSpot Shield or various other anonymous proxies with some luck. But what happens when your Internet Service Provider (ISP) finds the server’s address and then blocks it? You’ll have to wait for HotSpot Sheild to change their address or find a new anonymous proxy…
Here’s a better solution: Tor.
Tor is like the underground railroad of the internet. There are an incredible amount of reasons why YOU should be using Tor. Even if you have no problems accessing the social networks, you are being logged everywhere you go: 220.127.116.11.
The way Tor deals with anonymity is by creating a vast network of distributed anonymous relays. Instead of taking your information straight from source to destination, it will instead go through the maze that is Tor, where each relay is another Tor user. This makes traffic analysis very difficult. As well, if you are in Iran or China or someone else that has decided that certain websites are bad for you, there is no one server to block. Every user that decides to be a relay is a server.
Here’s how to get started using Tor for securely browsing the Internet:
2.) If you don’t have Firefox, get it here.
3.) For Windows, go here for instructions on setting up Tor.
For OSX, you could follow the instructions here. But I found they left out a few details. I’ve contacted them though so hopefully they’ll update their website. For now, just use the instructions here.
You’ll have downloaded a .dmg file for OSX. Mount this file (double-click) and open the folder. You’ll want to drag the application “Vidalia” into your Applications folder and double click the file: “Install Torbutton for Firefox”.
4.) Open Vidalia from the Applications folder and click on “Settings”. Make sure your settings look like this:
The three lines are:
5.) While in the Vidalia Settings page, click on Network. You should see 3 checkboxes. Click the third one if you know your ISP is blocking access to the Internet (e.g. Iran and China). You should be presented with a dialog asking you to “Add a Bridge”. A Bridge is essentially your ticket into the Tor network. If you don’t have one and your ISP is blocking the general Tor entry points, you have a few options:
Try going here for access to 3 public bridges. If you can’t access it, try asking a friend who can access it to copy over the numbers on that page. They should look like something like this:
Add each one to the dialog in the Network page of Vidalia’s Settings. If this doesn’t work for you, you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with the line ‘get bridges’ by itself in the body of the mail. However, you must send this request from a Gmail or Yahoo account.
Another option is to find someone on an unrestricted network willing to run a private relay for you. This means they will act as your bridge to the Tor network. To do this, they will need to have installed Tor and gone through steps (1-4). They’ll then need to click on the ‘Sharing’ tab in the Vidalia Settings page and click the third button: “Help censored users reach the Tor network”. They’ll need to fill in a Nickname and Contact Info and make sure they are connected to the Tor network. Then they should see a line that says: “Let others access your bridge by giving them this line:” with a bunch of numbers and letters:
Once they have given you this line, you should be able to add it to your list of bridges and connect to the Tor network.
6.) Now you have access to the Tor network, but it doesn’t mean anything unless you use it. You’ll want to setup Firefox to talk to Tor. If you have been following my instructions, you should have installed something called ‘TorButton’ for Firefox. Now if you open up Firefox (or restart it), you should see a little display on the bottom-right corner:
Click where it says ‘Tor Disabled’ and hopefully it will turn green and you’re ready to go. If you are having problems at this stage, you may not have setup polipo correctly and TorButton cannot talk to polipo. Make sure you have downloaded the correct Vidalia (if you didn’t use my links) as one has Tor and Polipo contained inside and another does not. As well, make sure you have included the 3 lines mentioned in step 4.
If you aren’t interested in securely browsing the internet, you can always setup Tor as a relay and offer your unrestricted bandwidth to others on the Tor network. Just follow all the steps