As the world population seeks personal freedom and protection of privacy, the desire for information security keeps increasing day by day. An example is the United Arab Emirates’ number of Tor users that went from about 10K to more than 250K in a matter of days, surpassing even Russia.
Project for regime fighters
Tor is an acronym for "The Onion Router." It's an open source software project originally developed by the US Naval Research Lab for the purpose of secure communication over the Internet intended for government agencies as well as dissidents fighting oppressive regimes.
Ideally, you can access Internet services without anyone knowing that it was you who actually accessed them.
Tor works by relaying your data through a series of different connections, known as nodes, all over the world in such a way that it becomes virtually impossible to track the data flow which creates space between you and your potential identifier.
Bolaji Ogunsola, tech enthusiast and security expert, describes Tor as an ‘almost safe’ tool. Ogunsola Says that although hackers also use Tor as a tool for anonymity, since the traffic is encrypted at every hop communications are usually secure until the exit node of Tor.
What is ‘exit node’?
Ogunsola describes the exit node as the point where the user’s traffic leaves the anonymous network and enters into the open Internet, from there traffic can be monitored. If anyone wants to sniff the traffic then they can sniff at the exit node.
Ogunsola says to Cointelegraph:
“You can see there is exit node/relay from where your traffic leaves TOR. From there onwards, the traffic can be sniffed. If you are browsing a site like Facebook then there is no harm because the traffic is encrypted. So when it will leave the TOR network then it will be encrypted as well.”
They know you but you don’t know them
Analyzing the Tor technology, Christopher Franko, CEO Borderless Corp, says that for an increasingly one-way transparent society who champions freedom like most people do, anonymity certainly has its benefits. In one way, because intelligence agencies have nearly limitless access to you and your private data but you don't really have any access to theirs and if anyone gains access they are severely punished.
According to Franko, the rise in the number of Tor users is directly related to the unique combination of the limitless one-way access to private data and censorship-prone to oppressive regimes because people naturally want freedom. Franko explains that people want access to information, and they don't want to be punished for it and Tor gives them some of that freedom with peace of mind.
“The more people who use the technology, the more effective it is at masking the origin of the traffic. Which is one of the reasons the creators released it to the world.”
The pros and cons
However, Franko explains that because of the privacy characteristic of Tor, it has attracted both good and bad actors. Over the last few years, Tor has empowered activists and journalists, it has kept sensitive information safe and it allows regular people to escape the prying eyes of an advertiser’s tracking campaign. Yet it also gives place for evil.
Franko concludes by noting that his personal perspective of Tor is that the pros outweigh the cons.
“Apparently the NRL also felt that way or they wouldn't have developed and released it to the world.”