Ever since an LMU student threatened to shoot some people on campus, surfing the ‘Net anonymously has become a hot topic here. We followed up with our own post about surfing anonymously, but today we’re going to cover one of those methods a little bit more in depth: Tor.

We’ll save the topic of “Why Would You Ever Want to Surf Anonymously?” for a rainy day. There are times when you’d need to. Hopefully you don’t surf anonymously to make shooting threats.

Tor is like a game of telephone, except no information gets lost. It was originally developed by the US Naval Research Lab according to Wikipedia (I rock at research). Tor allows users to surf just about as anonymously as possible. It’s considered an “onion” routing system. Your message are sent into the Tor network, sent around the world to other Tor clients, and then delivered.

Read Part 3 of Rosario’s post to get yourself started with Tor. I’m going to talk about how to use it.

Using Tor

Tor is one of those things that will probably be built in to computers in 10 years if privacy ever becomes a huge issue. If you don’t see any speed difference while using Tor, it would be a good idea to use it all the time.

If your bank’s system can handle Tor, it would be a good idea to use Tor especially for this task. The more I learn through my computer science classes, the more afraid I become. The information is–don’t worry–already encrypted, but encryption can be broken. Better safe than sorry.

For 90% of readers, the Tor button will get the job done. It provides an easy toggle for your Tor surfing.

Torify Other Applications

Let’s say you want to cover your tracks while using Miro to download your TV shows or movies. Tor with a rotating IP address might be one of the safest ways to do such a thing. The Tor folks recommend not doing this because it might overload the network (torrent moves a lot of data), so make sure you’re also serving your computer as a Tor node. This is only for the ultra-paranoid; the MPAA will probably never find you, probably.

I would walk you through how to Torify Miro, but there’s no easy way to do this and I’m not a Tor expert. Thankfully, the Tor project has a how-to page to get you by.