Privacy is one of the most discussed topic these days. From the NSA spying on citizens and governments alike to the Facebook data scandals. Privacy-concerned people are trying to find ways to protect their privacy.
For those concerned about agencies spying on their network, the Tor Project provides some of the best solutions to protect their privacy. The Tor Protocol is one of the most popular tools created by the Tor Project.
Tor Project has its own Tor browser which is based on Firefox and configured to protect users’ privacy and anonymity by using Tor and Vidalia tools that come bundled with it.
Let’s see how can you install and use Tor browser.
Installing Tor browser in Ubuntu and other Debian based distributions
The Tor browser launcher has been included in the Universe repository of Ubuntu so you can easily use the apt command to install it. The package’s original maintainer is Debian so I can assume that you can use it in Debian as well.
If you are using Ubuntu, make sure that you have the Universe repository enabled.
sudo add-apt-repository universe && sudo apt update
Once you have that, you can install the Tor browser launcher:
sudo apt install torbrowser-launcher
Note that this is not the browser itself. It’s just the installer.Install Tor browser launcher in any Linux distribution
When the launcher installation is done, you should have the following two entries in your application menu – Tor Browser and Tor Browser Launcher Settings. Click the Tor Browser Icon.
tor browser launcher
Click on Tor Browser
On the first run, it will download the browser and install it.
tor browser first run in Ubuntu
Tor Browser being downloaded
Troubleshoot: It’s possible that you’ll see a “SIGNATURE VERIFICATION FAILED” error. Click on the next section to expand the fix for this problem.Fixing SIGNATURE VERIFICATION FAILED error (Click to expand)
After the download is done, the window will show up. And show a connection screen. Click on connect to to start the browser and connect to the network.
Connecting to Tor network through Tor browser
Click on Connect
Once it is up and running, you’ll be greeted with the homescreen of the browser.
tor browser homescreen
Tor Browser Homescreen
Tor browser is now successfully installed and you can browse the internet anonymously and privately now.Installing Tor Browser via PPA (Old method, not recommended)
Removing Tor browser
If you are not happy with the Tor browser, you can remove it using the command below:
sudo apt purge torbrowser-launcher
A few tips for using the Tor Browser
Now that you have installed the Tor browser, let me tell you a few tips about using it. It’s up to you if you want to use some or all of these tips.
1. Check if you are properly connected to the Tor Network
Go to the the Tor network check page to see if your browser if properly connected to the network.
tor browser network check
2. Avoid using the browser maximized
Maximizing the browser allows websites to access device info such as screen size and resolution. If you’re concerned about this, do not maximize the browser. Tor browser even shows you a warning if you do it.
3. Choose your security level
By default, Tor Browser chooses the standard security level. However, you can select ‘Safer’ and ‘Safest’ levels. You can learn more about the levels here. To access this menu, click the onion below the tabs and select Security Settings.
tor browser security slider
Tor Browser security slider
4. Change a few browsing habits
Try to use search engines that do not track you. A few examples are DuckDuckGo or Disconnect.me. Tor even sets DuckDuckGo as the default search engine. Also avoid installing browser extensions as they may track you.
5. Stay away from illegal sites
As Tor is a hidden network so you may come across a few sites that are illegal or promote shady/illegal activities. Try to stay away from these kind of websites.
6. Understand Tor Circuits
Unlike a traditional VPN, Tor doesn’t just relay your connection through a single location. Instead, your data is relayed and transferred through a number of locations. This is called a Tor Circuit. You can view your current circuit by pressing the lock icon on the left of your address bar.
tor browser circuit
7. Use Onion services
Instead of using normal websites, you can use Onion services which are part of the Tor network. Some websites are available in this form. They use a .onion address. A few of them are
The New York Times (https://www.nytimes3xbfgragh.onion)