Should You Use a VPN with Tor? (Well, No.)

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This seems to be a very frequently asked question, and on many sites, people will tell you that you should use a VPN with Tor, for “extra protection.”

Based on my research, however, I disagree – and this seems to be an unpopular opinion. One reference I’d like to cite is a blog post by Matt Traudt, a.k.a. system33-, who is someone I respect with regard to Tor. The post in question is VPN + Tor: Not Necessarily a Net Gain.

One of the points he brings up here is the following:

Tor is trustless, a VPN is trusted. Users don’t have to trust every Tor relay that they use in order to stay safe with Tor. As long as the right ones aren’t compromised, working together, or otherwise malicious, the user stays protected.

This is the main problem with insisting on combining Tor and a VPN. VPNs can keep logs of your activity online (though some claim not to), whereas Tor does not.

However, using a VPN can hide your Tor usage from your ISP, especially if said ISP is suspicious of Tor.

The Tin Hat, on their post Tor And VPN – Using Both for Added Security, also makes the point that “Where this setup fails is at hiding your traffic from a malicious Tor exit node. Because the traffic goes through the VPN, and then to the Tor network, exit nodes can still watch your traffic unencrypted.”

My preference, personally, is to use a Linux distribution with Tor, like Tails or Qubes, or for the more advanced, Arch Linux or Manjaro Linux. These, of course, take time to learn and won’t do everything for you, but they are designed for security. While this doesn’t mean they are vulnerability-free, they can improve your protection, particularly if you understand their ins and outs.

Don’t get me wrong – Unix-like OS’s are not invincible – see Sophos: Don’t believe these four myths about Linux security, but depending on the situation, it’s preferable to using an OS like Windows.

Oddly enough, I haven’t “contracted” any malware via the dark web – at least not to my knowledge. This has happened more often on the clearnet, ironically. Maybe it’s because I don’t download mysterious files or install programs that I find randomly on networks like Tor.

I’m paranoid that way.

What about you, readers? What OS’s do you prefer to use (specifically in combination with Tor, I2P, Freenet, etc.)?

In the meantime, enjoy your dark web adventures, my friends – and please research any VPN or other “privacy” software before trusting it blindly.

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Looking for Linux!!

 

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Well, it finally happened.  The previous computer I had been using to write this blog crashed…permanently.

Now, whether that had anything to do with the fact that I was using the dark web or not, I don’t know. (I’d like to think not.)  It was also a seven year-old computer, and some of the error messages indicated that the hardware was having issues, so that was more than likely the problem.

You may ask – so how are you writing right now?  Well, I have a few older systems I can use for the time being, but I would like to ultimately switch to a Linux OS, even though that’ll take some getting used to.

I have some limited experience with them through live CD operating systems, but I know that that’s not quite the same thing.  One reason I’d like to switch is that because I’m also learning to code, Linux systems seem more geared toward that (am I wrong?).

I also feel that, in general, they’re more secure, although of course no system is completely unhackable.  Even more than that, though, I like that they’re less automated.

One thing that used to frequently annoy me about Windows systems was that they would try to do everything for you and guess your every move.  I remember using an early version of Word back in the day when I would write fantasy stories, and it would autocorrect the names of my made-up characters.

Me (typing): Zostarath and Megilligand fought valiantly with their swords.

Autocorrect: Zoroastrian and Megillah fought valiantly with their swords.

Me: Damn you, autocorrect!

Of course, there were ways around this, but it was still frustrating, and I had the same problem with later versions of Windows too.

Command Lines, How Do I Love Thee?

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So, I’m aware that using the command line interface after many years will take some getting used to, and may involve a little frustration, but I think I can get the hang of it again.

This also seems ideal for coding, in a sense.  The question is, which system should I use?  I haven’t decided that yet.  (Oh, woe is me!  Woe is me!)

I’ve been browsing Linux Preloaded to see some of what’s available, and I’m sure I’ll come up with something.

And before I officially start using one of these systems, I’ve been brushing up on my Linux commands with sites like Red Hat Developers.

Now – I’m sure this isn’t quite as exciting as talking about the dark web, but hear me out. If I’m going to delve deeper into the world of internet security, etc., I think I need the appropriate system.

It seems as if there are a million options, so the sky’s the limit.  Seriously, if any of you are experienced Linux users, and you have some good suggestions, feel free to share them.

I will say that I’m not going into this blindly – Whonix did have something similar, called the Konsole, which was essentially the command line interface.  I’ve used it enough to get the hang of it, but still, it was a far cry from a full Linux OS.

Am I about to get frustrated all over again?  Probably.  But that’s OK in my book.

Hey, I’m always up for a good learning experience…this will just be one more, right?

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