2.) Second, click the little link on the Tor Browser landing page that says “Test Tor Network Settings”.
This will verify that your traffic is entering the Tor network, and will test the path of your traffic. If successfully connected, it will display an IP address. Your destination websites will see your traffic as having originated at this address.
My latest IPs showed up as Germany and the UK.
Each new tab you open for browsing to another site will have another unique Tor network path. You see this by clicking the Tor button again once a page has loaded up. The section “Tor circuit for this site” shows the active path for that traffic.
3.) Third, and perhaps most importantly, keep your browsing as “clean” as possible.
Improper configs, bad behavior, and poison nodes can lead to de-anonymization.
Things to keep in mind:
- Don’t forget about the fact that some websites will block known Tor exit nodes from accessing their pages. Many companies prevent outbound Tor network traffic.
- Don’t open documents that you’ve downloaded with Tor until you’re offline again. Many document formats, such as PDF or .docx can have embedded macros that may accidentally reveal your actual address with an outbound request to load remote content or check for application updates, etc.
- In the same vein of don’t-open-documents is an even bigger, yet weirdly common, mistake: Don’t torrent over Tor. Torrenting by design needs to use your actual IP address in order to establish the peer connections that make it work.
- Don’t use Windows. While it’s possible to use Windows and stay safe (just ask Bruce Schneier), it’s just more complicated to make sure it stays that way. And just so we’re not being needlessly inflammatory, here are a few reasons why, with further links:
- Windows-on-Tor has been a specific target of malware. [link]
- Windows has many things that phone home automatically and there are increasingly few ways around them with each new version. [link]
- The architecture of Windows means it caches a lot of information about your usage habits. And since most malware is targeted at Windows, if your box does get popped, there’s a lot of nice info there to be had. [link]
- When you start reading about “user privacy on Windows”, you may begin to notice that lots of articles will have a rather alarmist tone, sometimes quite over the top. Try to look past that and just sift out the actual information that will help you.
- Don’t log into personal accounts. I touched on this, but keep mindful of fully separating your Tor activity from your real world ‘normal’ web presence.
Clearnet sites or .onion sites? This is where the potential to accidentally de-anonymize starts to ramp up. If you’re using Tor to visit only .onion sites, then the likelihood is much smaller. But, all traffic to the Clearnet has to pass a Tor exit node. So, if you do need to anonymously visit a Clearnet site, make sure it’s over HTTPS.
Further, don’t enable scripts for the site, don’t use a real world login account (HTTPS or not). When your traffic to the Clearnet leaves a Tor exit node, it is susceptible to snooping by that node. If someone sets up a malicious exit and you’re sending sensitive data, it may be intercepted. So at minimum, HTTPS is a must at all times. Also avoid sending over the wire any data that isn’t already encrypted.