Is It Possible to Track Tor Users?
If you think about online security and privacy, which tool or service comes to mind first? Of course, this is Tor. Today, this service is used by millions of people around the world. And many countries have completely blocked the service on their territories, such as Russia.
However, is Tor as secure and anonymous as we all used to think? Let’s figure it out together.
Previously, we’ve compared Tor with other privacy tools. You can read about it here.
Should you trust Tor?
Of course, the main advantage of Tor is the ability to hide the user’s real IP address. All data and messages transmitted through this service will undergo special encryption, using 3 random servers. Therefore, it is almost impossible to find out the real IP address of the user.
In addition, a special Tor browser blocks the use of dangerous plugins and add-ons by default. Therefore, any threat is minimized.
Nevertheless, you can find a list of current Tor vulnerabilities on Wikipedia.
Yet, despite all the shortcomings, Tor stands out for the degree of data security and anonymity of its users.
Is it possible to track a user on the Tor network?
It is impossible to track the user’s real IP address on the Tor network. By default, Tor blocks all telemetry and advertising trackers that can link your activity on different sites. Also, don’t change your Tor settings to stay safe.
For more security, you can install the following Tor Browser extensions:
- NoScript extension — blocks the launch of any third-party scripts in the viewing session, blocks advertising and analytical trackers, and allows active content only for trusted domains that you choose yourself.
- HTTPS extension — automatically switches the viewing of all websites from HTTP to secure HTTPS, and also displays a warning about any attempts to view a website using the insecure HTTP protocol.
In addition, Tor does everything possible to prevent various trackers on the internet from tracking the user’s location and IP address.
Nevertheless, it is worth remembering that some sites, even without the information above, may link some data about you. For example, analyzing cookies that your browser sends, or observing the IP address of your output node. For this reason, Tor Browser also has two additional options:
- The “New Tor Chain for this site” button forces the browser to establish a new connection on the Tor network. This will change the IP address of your output node and protect the IP address of the session source.
- The “New Identity” button restarts the Tor browser, effectively resetting all web sessions. It erases all session cookies and clears the entire cache.
Does Tor leave traces on your computer?
Tor does not leave any traces or information on users’ devices. The browser does not store history, or cookies, and does not cache it on disks. Everything works taking into account the necessary user privacy. The reputation of the service works and builds on this technology.
Where is the Tor browser cache stored?
There is no cache here. Yes, you’ve read it right. Tor has no cache. This approach is necessary because the Tor browser is designed to store all browsing data (browser history, cache, session cookies) in RAM without saving anything to disk.
Note: The lack of cache is an important feature and component of the browser.
Is it possible to track the Tor browser?
We have already written earlier. If you do not change any settings in the operation of Tor, then it will work correctly, and it will be impossible to track it. In addition, even the Internet provider does not recognize any information.
Note: There are several ways to attack Tor users, which can lead to the leakage of confidential information. Here are some of them:
- The use of dangerous plugins and browser extensions.
- Accepting insecure connections and ignoring certificate warnings.
- Connecting to Insecure websites (HTTP).
For example, some organizations (the same schools or companies) force their users to access the internet through a proxy server with SSL verification. This is also called HTTPS verification. Connecting to the Tor network through such a proxy will lead to a complete loss of privacy, and you should never do this. Fortunately, the Tor browser will warn you about such cases (certificate warning).
Will the ISP know that you are using Tor?
Yes, your ISP knows that you are using Tor. This is because the list of Tor nodes (repeaters) is well-known information since some organizations and individuals track them for various reasons. So your ISP knows — you are using Tor.
But don’t panic. Yes, your ISP knows that you are using Tor. However, he has no way to find out what actions you are doing on the internet. No one can see which websites you visit and where you connect to because everything is encrypted using strong encryption.
Is it possible to block the Tor browser?
Yes, there is a possibility of blocking Tor, but this is only partially possible. Since Tor is an open network, with the ability to connect for each person, then everyone can block it, since the list of nodes (repeaters) is publicly available.
So, it is not difficult to block Tor, and many network devices have a built-in function (for example, Fortinet, Palo Alto, or Check Point). But as a countermeasure, the Tor project community came up with the concept of bridges.
Bridge — a Tor repeater with the difference that it is not publicly announced or published anywhere on the Internet. Bridges are usually managed by volunteers, and their addresses can be requested individually on a one-time basis. More information about bridges can be found here:
Of course, Tor stands out among competitors with its set of functions and the degree of user security. However, this is not the best option for those who want to remain completely anonymous on the web. If privacy and data privacy is important to you, then it is better to choose an alternative option with many built-in tools, for example — Utopia P2P.
Learn more about Utopia P2P here.