We all live in public, at least as far as the US National Security Agency is concerned. As Internet users and global citizens become more aware of surveillance activities that the US and other countries are doing on the World Wide Web, there are those who seek to ensure that privacy and personal freedoms aren’t trampled upon.
Tor technology aims to help appease privacy advocates and offer a way in which the Internet can be enjoyed without the prying eyes of surveillance programs or other tracking software. This free piece of software has certainly become mainstream in light of recent events, but what is Tor and why does it matter to you, your family, neighbors, co-workers, and the rest of the Internet?
Peeling back the onion layers
It might surprise you that the Tor Project, originally an acronym for The Onion Router Project, was initially funded by the US Naval Research Laboratory and helped launch the development of onion routing (anonymous communication over a computer network) on behalf of DARPA. It had also received the backing from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
When users installed Tor software onto their computers, it would conceal their identity and network activity from anyone spying on their behavior. This was accomplished by separating the identification and routing information. The data is transmitted through multiple computers via a network of relays run by like-minded volunteers — almost like how users installed SETI software to look for extraterrestrial beings.
Tor isn’t the only service that helps you hide in the shadows away from the prying eyes of the federal government, or any other person who would do it for malicious purposes. However, some say that it’s better because it works at the Transmission Control Protocol stream level. Full post)