Question: I have started using Tor to browse Deep Web sites, I’m now anonymous right?
Answer: Unfortunately, it’s not really that simple.
Using Tor to mask the sites you view on the internet is a great step forward on the road to anonymity. However, because of one major player in the internet game, you’re still not completely free from eavesdroppers. That player is your ISP, your internet service provider.
So what does your ISP know about you? I’ll explain with this commonly-used analogy: Think of your ISP as a virtual mailman. They know the addresses of everything that’s both sent and received by your computer. Now what this means is that your ISP can track every site that you view on the internet. Depending on where you live, they may also be required to store this information. For example, in the EU, ISPs must keep all their data logs for two years.
Most importantly however, your ISP knows your IP address. When you use Tor to mask whatever sites you are visiting, your ISP can see that someone is using Tor to browse anonymously, and because they know you IP address, they can tell that it’s you who’s trying to mask what sites they view. Also, if you’re not using a HTTPS connection within Tor, they still know your data usage. This can arouse further suspicion.
There’s nothing technically illegal about using Tor. However, some companies such as Comcast have decided to ban its use under their fair usage policy, due to the strong links between its use and the viewing of illegal sites as published on DeepDotWeb. This shows that peoples Tor usage is being monitored and logged. While I don’t endorse censorship of the internet, and while I believe that everyone has the right to privacy, including not having multinational companies store their personal internet histories, a lot of pressure is being placed on ISPs at the moment to crack down on internet piracy as well the use of illegal Deep Web sites.
So the question remains, can you actually obtain anonymity on the internet? I believe that the answer is yes – you just need to have the right tools at your disposal. A good VPN (Virtual Private Network) is one such tool. A VPN allows computers that are connected over a public network to form a private connection between each other. Many businesses use them so that employees can access sensitive material, even when not on site. The same technology can be used to protect your anonymity online. When using a VPN correctly, all your ISP can see is encrypted data. This approach, coupled with using Tor to mask the sites that you’re viewing, is probably as close as you can get to total anonymity.
In reality, using the Tor browser should be enough to protect your privacy in most cases if you don’t care that your ISP and law enforcement suspects you are using the Darknet Market sites like Agora and BlackBank. However, if you wish to really achieve anonymity so that absolutely no one knows you are using the DeepWeb, the use of a good VPN that keeps no logs is a very wise choice to make.
TopVPNSoftware.com is a pretty good site I found that compares the best VPN’s. It goes into pretty deep detail and it looks like they actually tested them themselves instead of just making it up.