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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #293 - Web: Reckless people do not have Tor (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Mon, 15 Apr 2019 09:01:33 +0300

In the previous issue of AL, Lise (AL Lyon) referred to Tor in her article on recent attacks on freedom of expression on the Internet. If this has not surprised those who know what it is, the curiosity of others may have been piqued. The opportunity to explain here what Tor is and how to use it (it's very simple !). ---- Tor (the term, now lexicalized, was formerly the acronym for The Onion Router) is a decentralized global computer network that significantly increases the anonymity of its users. It houses a " part " of the Web, sometimes called deep web or dark web, where all traffic is anonymous and political activists in danger alongside drugs, weapons or child pornography sites - all Like a hammer, Tor is just a tool and is not responsible for the use we make of it ! Tor is the subject of many fantasies, carefully maintained by the great Hollywood show, while being very poorly understood.

A little bit of theory
However, without going into the technical details, we can popularize its theoretical operation in just a few sentences ! Imagine that you want to access the website www.alternativelibertaire.org . To do this, you will instruct your computer (by clicking on a link or a bookmark, for example) and it will send a " mail " on the Internet, to the site www.alternativelibertaire. org .

This mail will typically contain questions like " Does the site still exist ? What is in it right now ? Can you send me its content so I can display it on screen ? ". When you are sailing out of Tor, this mail is a " postcard ": any " Postman " or " Post Office " or " Pirate (Post Office Truck) " on the way can read it.

At best, if you access a https: // site instead of http: // (the small padlock in the address bar), your mail is a sealed letter but the sending or receiving identities are always displayed: confidentiality of the content but zero anonymity. On the contrary, with Tor, the mail is packaged as an onion (hence the name) in several successive " envelopes " (Russian doll type). The address displayed on the first " envelope " is that of the first " post office " on the way: the first factor knows only this information. Arrived at the first " post office ", the envelope is open (it is padlocked and only this " post office" "Has the key) and the second envelope is removed, also locked and on which the address of a second" post office "is indicated, and so on until the last envelope, which it displays the address of the real recipient: www.alternativelibertaire.org . Thus, no one in the chain of transmission knows both who is the sender and who is the recipient. The return mail goes in the same way. That's it, Tor !

The hidden services of the deep web are nothing but websites that want to protect their anonymity too: instead of publishing their own address (like www.alternativelibertaire.org ), they find their users in a place of pre-arranged appointment and without ever revealing their true address. For them too, the journey between the real address and the meeting place is anonymized by the onion technique.

Using Tor is within everyone's reach
The theory being clarified, let's move on to practice. Installing Tor Browser (Tor Browser) is like installing any other software on your operating system: either by going download the executable on the site ( https://www.torproject.org , in English ... but several unofficial sites in French exist) or via the repository. Tor Browser can run on Windows, Mac OS, Linux ; under Android, the equivalent software is called Orfox and for iPhone we recommend Onion Browser.

The Tor browser is a modified version of Firefox ; if it's already your browser (and this is the one that AL libristes recommend !), you will not be distressed. To use it, just launch it and then navigate as usual ! Finally ... almost as usual: some sites, like www.google.com , detect Tor users as potential spammers and ask you to fill in a " captcha " before accessing the content. Unfortunately we can not do much, because it is indeed true that some spammers use Tor to protect themselves (remember, Tor is like a hammer ...).

Always keep in mind the mail metaphor, which is quite faithful and shows the limits of the protection offered by Tor. First, intermediaries (such as your ISP) and the receiving site will know you are using Tor. Then, if you use Tor with http: // only (that is, without https: //), only the recipient and sender addresses will be protected and not the content (that is, the content mail will be stapled to the first envelope and the onion envelopes will only protect the final address).

That's why Tor Browser comes directly with the HTTPS Everywhere extension, which will make you automatically use https: // instead of http: // as soon as possible (and today, fewer and fewer websites do not offer https: //).

Tor does not protect you from an almighty opponent, who would have the ability to permanently filter all incoming and outgoing mail Tor network ; thanks to statistical tools, the anonymity of many of these letters could then be lifted. But right now, the most powerful opponent - the American NSA - seems to be still technically incapable of doing this kind of thing.

More generally, it is important to learn about the limits of Tor, which many French-language websites explain with pedagogy: it's up to you to find them, on Tor Browser of course !

Leo (AL Grand Paris South)

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