Want Your Privacy Back? Install and Run Tor in Ubuntu

Have you ever felt that you are being watched in whatever you do online? Websites seem to know who you are and can greet you with your name when you visit them. Google always seems to know what you are searching, even before you started the search. Getting scared? Perhaps it’s time to turn your privacy filter on.

Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security known as traffic analysis.

What Tor does is to bounce your web communication around a distributed network of relays so that no one will know where you are from. By using Tor, it prevents anyone to learn what sites you have visited, and also sites to find out where you are from. (Note: For more information on how Tor works, check out its overview page for detailed explanation.)

In this tutorial, we will show you how to install Tor in Ubuntu and how to get it running in your browsers.

Note: Windows and Mac users can also download Tor from the download page.

Add the deb file to your sources.list. Remember to change [YOUR_DISTRO_VERSION] to your current distro version.

sudo sh -c 'echo "deb http://deb.torproject.org/torproject.org [YOUR_DISTRO_VERSION] main" >> /etc/apt/sources.list'

Add the gpg key used to sign the packages:

gpg --keyserver keys.gnupg.net --recv 886DDD89
gpg --export A3C4F0F979CAA22CDBA8F512EE8CBC9E886DDD89 | sudo apt-key add -

Install Tor

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install tor tor-geoipdb polipo

Download the polipo configuration file to your home folder (Right click on the link and select Save link as…).

Backup the existing Polipo configuration file and move the new configuration file to the Polipo directory.

sudo mv /etc/polipo/config /etc/polipo/config.bak
sudo mv ~/polipo.conf /etc/polipo/config

Restart Polipo

sudo /etc/init.d/polipo restart

Install Torbutton extension for Firefox.

After you have restarted your Firefox, you will see a “Tor Disabled” icon on the status bar.

tor-disabled

Click on it to enable Tor.

tor-enabled

You can go to the Preferences page and click on Test settings to see if Tor is working.

tor-button-test-setting

tor-button-test-successful

Alternatively, go to https://check.torproject.org/. It will inform you if you are running Tor.

tor-check-setting

In Google Chrome, click on the Wrench icon and go to the Options page.

Go to “Under the Hood” tab and click the Change proxy settings button.

tor-chrome-options

Change the proxy setting to “Manual proxy configuration”. Enter the following in the HTTP proxy, Secure HTTP proxy and Socks host field.

tor-chrome-proxy-settings

Click Close.

Similarly, go to https://check.torproject.org/ and you will be able to see if Tor is running successfully on your Google Chrome.

While it is easy to install Tor and get it running on your computer, it is also good to understand its disadvantages and what it does not do that might affect your browsing experience.

  • Using Tor will slow down your browsing speed.
  • Using Torbutton for Firefox will block browser plugins such as Java, Flash, ActiveX, RealPlayer, Quicktime, Adobe’s PDF plugin, and others as they can be manipulated into revealing your IP address.
  • Tor might delete your cookies that they deem dangerous. You might want to use CookieCuller Firefox addon to protect any cookies you don’t want to lose.
  • Tor is not 100% safe. It only encrypts the traffic within the Tor network. Any traffic outside of the Tor network is still unencrypted.

Do you think Tor is a good way to protect your privacy? What other ways do you use to protect your online presence?