Guest writer article by Ethan Matis


The internet has grown so large that it now has a hand in almost every part of our daily living. We reside in smart homes connected by some part of the internet, run a series of transactions and save sensitive files online, to mention but a few.

Learning from the stories of big companies like Yahoo and Uber that have suffered massive attacks from hackers in the past, it would thus not be surprising that you be interested in keeping your cyber life as secure as can be.

Looking at the various options available, only two stand out when it comes to protecting your data on the internet. They are:

  • The Tor Browser and
  • VPN services

What is TOR?

Short for ‘The Onion Router,’ TOR is the most secure browser you can access the internet with. The browser has been developed with military-grade security in mind. If that means anything, it’s that you get as much security as possible when browsing the internet.


Connecting to the internet via a TOR browser, your data goes through a system of, at least, three cycles. They are:

  • The entry node – This is the point at which you enter the internet sphere. This zone inevitably has your IP address stored
  • The middle node – This zone serves as the first data-masking point. It ensures the exit node does not know which entry node you accessed the internet from
  • The exit node – Refers to the final server which just knows the website you are trying to connect to but has no information as regards your identity.

What is VPN?

VPN is also an abbreviation which expands to ‘Virtual Proxy Network.’ Just as the name suggests, these networks allow you connect to the internet via a proxy server which assigns a virtual address to you at the time of connection.


The process of operation of a VPN is almost similar to what TOR does. However, the juice is in the subtle difference. Reaching the internet over a VPN, your data goes through the following stages

  • Encapsulation of the data into packets at the entry point. At this stage, the system only knows your virtual IP address
  • Sending the data through secure channels to the endpoint/ site you want to reach
  • Unpacking of the data only at the destination (target website) as someone else (a function of the IP change)

Why Layer TOR Over A VPN? 

If you observed the differences in the operational models of VPN and TOR above, you will have seen one of the major weaknesses of the TOR browser.

Since the latter registers your IP address at the point of entry, there is still the risk of data-logging. Someone manipulating your entry node, with the necessary skillset and tools, will get what they want.

A good VPN service makes that impossible since they will have masked your IP address even before you go online at all. VPNs that embrace a strict no-logging policy – such as ExpressVPN – are an even better fit since your data won’t be accessible from their database too.

Another point of concern when browsing with TOR is the lack of speed. That is understandable since the developers prioritized security and anonymity – a mistake other internet browsing softwares make largely or wholly.

Using your TOR browser in conjunction with a VPN, you can get browsing (download and upload) speeds you never thought attainable.

For those that live in a region where the TOR browser is not accessible, there is good news for you. As a plus to the extra security you get from using a VPN, you will also be able to access TOR like you were in a region that supports the platform.

Conclusion

With the promise of speed, extra security and access to the TOR platform from anywhere in the world, the advantages of using VPN over your TOR are almost endless.