Internet Anonymity: Why You Need The Tor Project

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How do you hide your real identity online? Is it easy to connect your online persona with your true identity? Is internet anonymity even possible?

Internet anonymity is the concept of keeping what you do online private. With changes in technology, it is more of a theoretical concept than a realistic one.

Read more about internet anonymity and how the Tor Project browser may be a viable solution.

Is Internet Anonymity Possible?

The Internet made a lot of things both easier and harder at the same time. For example, if a CO couldn’t find information about a target on the CIA databases, the CO would probably be able to find the target on the public Internet. However, on the public Internet, any search was trackable. 

Whenever you search something on the Internet, your request typically goes directly to the website you’re aiming for. Your request is tagged with source and destination headers, which tell anyone who’s looking where the request is going and where it came from.

The CIA didn’t have a good solution. Whenever a CO needed to search someone on the public Internet, they were supposed to contact the CIA and get them to do the search for them. The CIA would do so using a “nonattributable research system,” which involved setting up a front business that would have some legitimate reason to do the search. Setting up a front was a lot of work—it needed a physical address, URL, website, and servers—and if it wasn’t done properly, the business could be traced back to the CIA.

The Tor Project Browser

The best way to maintain anonymity on the Internet is to use the Tor Project. Tor works a little like the front business, but better.

When you request a website using Tor, your request doesn’t go directly to the website you’re aiming for. Instead, it goes through a chain of Tor servers. The servers are hosted by volunteers all over the world.

The first server—the gateway—knows what your request is, but not where it’s going. By the time your request eventually gets to the website you’re looking for, it’s source header is the last Tor server in the chain. As a result, the content of the request can never be connected to where it came from. 

Internet Anonymity: Why You Need The Tor Project

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best summary of Edward Snowden's "Permanent Record" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Permanent Record summary:

  • What Ed Snowden discovered that caused him to completely lose faith in the government
  • How Snowden led the bombshell reports of US mass surveillance
  • How Snowden is coping with his treatment as both patriot and traitor

Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

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