surf anonymously on your iPhone or Android phone using Tor

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You can now browse the Web anonymously on your smartphone.

Windows, Linux and Mac users have been able to browse anonymously for a decade by using the onion router (Tor) network. By using the "Tor Browser Bundle" it's really easy to set up. And this capability is now available on some smartphones.

if you’ve never heard of Tor

Tor is an anonymous network that lets you surf the Web while remaining anonymous. You can learn more about it by visiting the official Tor website.

Like any complex IT system, the Tor network has its flaws. I recommend Eric Filiol’s articles discussing some of its weaknesses: “Tor attack technical details” and “Let us stop with the buzz on Tor”. These pieces sparked a hot debate when published in late 2011. The Tor project even published its own article saying the whole controversy was overblown.

I’m not going to get into who’s right and who’s wrong. In any case, the Tor network is an interesting way for to protect one's anonymity.

bringing anonymity to iPhones and iPads

If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can go to the App Store and install Covert Browser. Once you’ve got the program, it’s a cinch. As soon as you run the application, it initializes the Tor network connection and an integrated browser with a sleek display pops up.

The node which you exit the Tor network changes automatically. If you want, you can even switch to manual mode to choose your own exit node.

Bookmarks and sharing (Twitter, Facebook) aren’t available, which is probably for the best. But there is a button to delete your history – nice.

 

TOR mobile software

With the application, you can surf on Tor using a Wi-Fi or even a 3G connection. However, some initial testing has revealed that you have to restart the app when you switch from Wi-Fi to 3G or vice versa.

 

Whether you’re on Wi-Fi or 3G, don’t expect lightning speed. The Tor network is still “slow” compared to any direct connection. Anonymity has its price.

if you have a “jailbroken” system

For you techies who have jailbroken your iPhones/iPads, you can install Tor client by Sid77. The installation process is obviously a bit more complicated than Covert Browser: this kind of tinkering isn’t for your average tech geek.

Once you have installed it using the instructions provided, all you have to do is reconfigure your proxy settings. The upside of this method is that all your applications will use the same Tor network (not just the browser). So it’s a little more general than Covert Browser. The downside is that all your applications will be slowed down by the Tor connection, which is definitely not ideal for everyday use.

also available on Android

Android users can connect to the Tor network using the Orbot application offered by The Guardian Project. You can find it in the Android Market. Once you set it up, you can pick which applications you want to use the Tor network, which gives you quite a bit of flexibility.
 

I don’t have an Android phone, so I haven’t had a chance to test Orbot. If you’ve tried it out, send a message and let us know what you think!

 

 crédit photo : © Delphimages - Fotolia.com

Jean-François Audenard

Within Orange Group security management, I am in charge of security and ensures the inclusion of security in the life cycle of products and services. I am passionate about IT security and enjoy sharing this passion through videos, presentations and articles. Directness, optimism and cheerfulness are my daily-engines. If you have questions, ideas, proposals: you know where to find me! :-)