said it once before but it bears repeating

posted by tom / March 23, 2005 /

I've mentioned Tor before in the context of BitTorrent, but now that I'm on a contract site, it's worth talking about its more traditional use: anonymous websurfing.

It's really, really easy to see the contents of traffic on the same subnet as your PC. Practically speaking, you're likely to be on the same subnet if you're plugged into the same router, and you're likely to share a router with other folks in your department, floor, office or building, depending on the size of your corporate overlords.

Don't believe me? Go download Ethereal and fire it up. It's not the most user-friendly app in the world, but you should be able to wrestle it into coughing up some packets, and if you sift through them you'll be able to find your coworkers' IM conversations, web surfing habits, and (frequently) email. Creepy, right?

Well, you can be sure that your company's IT department can do the same thing, only with a lot less effort. Do you really want them peering over your virtual shoulder? Of course not. I know what you've been looking at, you pervert.

So what's to be done? Simple. Encrypt all your traffic, for one. For another, send it zipping randomly throughout the internet so that your office geek can't see who your PC is talking to. This is exactly what Tor does. Go here and follow the instructions. You just need to install Tor and a piece of software called Privoxy. Both are free, and both are easy to install. You might also want to install a Firefox extension called SwitchProxy to let you easily turn the whole apparatus on and off.

Once you've got that up and running, it's as simple as selecting an item from a dropdown to send your web-surfing whizzing through random intermediaries, safely encrypted. Sure, things get slightly slower (slightly). But it's pretty cool to have your homepage pop up with a big "Auf gut Glück!" button: right now, Google thinks I'm in Germany.

Comments

ALOHA!! and what an
AMAZING BLOG!!!!!!

I'm relishing your info on Privoxy, TOR, SSH etc... While we "Ironworkers" sort out how to build, setup, configure and repair computers, you ["Software"] guys hold the real "Keys to the Kingdom" Ah, the true mysteries lie within the bits and bytes. Most hardware Techs won't admit this even if they know its true ;)

I read within one of your blogs:
"This is exactly what Tor does. Go here and follow the instructions. You just need to install Tor and a piece of software called Privoxy. Both are free, and both are easy to install."

OK, now I wonder if you could offer some advice about using these two with the following:

1. Zone Alarm (earlier, more stable version with Windows 2000 Pro)
2. Zywall 2.

What hoops would I have to jump through to get these to work with the above? I haven't yet figured out rules :( Haven't found much for the layman on how to configure the Zywall at all. Thats what makes your blog so incredible and precious.

Thank you very much for it!!!!!!!!

Posted by: on November 1, 2005 11:40 PM

Thanks for the kind words -- but I'm afraid I don't know much about Zywall 2 or Zonealarm specifically. However, odds are good that, when you run Tor, your firewall will notice it and ask if you want to allow it to use port 9001 or 9030. Let it, and it should be fine.

There's also some Tor settings you can apparently use to help deal with firewalls (I've never had to employ them). See here.

Posted by: tom on November 2, 2005 08:11 PM

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