If you decide to go to Somalia for vacation (strongly not recommended but maybe in 10 years) or any other place where you need to lay low it might be a good idea to load Tor onto your laptop before you go. Tor protects your online browsing and lets you connect to sites that may be blocked by the Great Firewall of China.
Tor is available for free download for Windows, Mac, and Linux machines. It runs in the background and by default stays off. When you want to switch it on, you need to change your proxy settings. Proxy settings are modified in your browser settings (Firefox users Tools > Options > Network > Connection Settings) but that can be a bit of a pain. After you have downloaded and installed Tor (which takes about 10 seconds) download the Tor button Firefox plugin which creates a tiny button at the bottom of your Firefox which you can click to turn the Tor proxy settings on and off. (If you don’t use Firefox, you should.)
You’ll want to use Tor whenever you are somewhere you think it might be a good idea to lay low. Many countries in the Middle East and Asia carefully track users online and visiting sites you think are harmless (news, social networking, etc.) could get you in legal trouble or worse. If you are caught in a military coup,keep your online presence quiet using Tor and encrypt your Gmail with this Firefox plugin.
Questions? Ask us in the comments whoever you are!
Thats a cool tip, useful for long haul travels definitely !
Tor and Hotspot Shield are a must when on unfamiliar wireless networks. Plus you can get around many government and regional Internet filters 😉
Anil! It looks like the Tor button does not work with Firefox 5.0.1 🙁
Tor itself does, but not the button. Oh well 🙂
Hi Claire, I just checked and looks like it’s in alpha right now meaning hopefully an update for 5.0.1 isn’t too far down the line 🙂
Great article, I’m preparing a travel around the world without an ending date and I’m just getting everything done, so right now I am using a VPN (strongvpn) I got this service a few years ago because I wanted to change the IP of my computer so I can watch netflix from the US, but now that I’m reading you article makes me wonder, what is the difference between the services you mention and keep using my VPN??
Thanks. Both will obscure your IP adress (no problem getting to Netflix); the differences and advantages of using both vary depending on the implementation. Tor over the VPN is useful if you don’t trust your VPN. Though that will slow your Internet connection; for most people a good, paid VPN (which doesn’t keep logs) is sufficient with out the use of Tor.
I hope I’ve been able to clarify but let me know if you have any other questions. This article may help sort out a few more of the details: