What Sean Penn Teaches Us About How Not to Chat With a Fugitive

What Sean Penn Teaches Us About How Not to Chat With a Fugitive:

Tor is short for The Onion Router (thus the logo) and was initially a
worldwide network of servers developed with the U.S. Navy that enabled
people to browse the internet anonymously. Now, it's a non-profit
organization whose main purpose is the research and development of
online privacy tools.

The Tor network disguises your identity by moving your traffic across
different Tor servers, and encrypting that traffic so it isn't traced
back to you. Anyone who tries would see traffic coming from random nodes
on the Tor network, rather than your computer. (For a more in-depth
explanation, check out this post from our sister blog, Gizmodo).

To access this network, you just need to download the Tor browser.
Everything you do in the browser goes through the Tor network and
doesn't need any setup or configuration from you. That said, since your
data goes through a lot of relays, it's slow, so you'll experience a
much more sluggish internet than usual when you're using Tor.

What Tor Is Good For

What Is Tor and Should I Use It?
If you want to be anonymous—say, if you live under a dictatorship,
you're a journalist in an oppressive country, or a hacker looking to
stay hidden from the government—Tor is one of the easiest ways to
anonymize your traffic, and it's free. It's far from perfect, though
(we'll get to that in a moment).

On a more general level, Tor is useful for anyone who wants to keep
their internet activities out of the hands of advertisers, ISPs, and web
sites. That includes people getting around censorship restrictions in
their country, police officers looking to hide their IP address, or
anyone else who doesn't want their browsing habits linked to them.

Tor's technology isn't just about browsing anonymously. It can also host web sites through its hidden services that are only accessible by other Tor users. It's on one of these hidden service sites that something like The Silk Road exists
to traffic drugs. Tor's hosting capabilities tend to pop up in police
reports for things like child pornography and arms trading, too.

So is it something that everyday users need? Probably not, at least
not yet. But it's become popular because of its usefulness in many of
these more specific situations.

What Tor Doesn't Do

What Is Tor and Should I Use It?

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