You've probably heard of Tor Browser. If not, it's the easiest way to use a browser through the Tor network. Tor Browser is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. The one thing about Tor Browser is that it makes use of Firefox. Although that is a fine option, there are those who prefer to stick with their browser of choice—and still use Tor.
If Google Chrome is your browser of choice, you're in luck. With a few steps, you can enable the Chrome browser to make use of Tor. I'm going to demonstrate how this is possible with the help of the official Tor application and an easy to install Chrome extension.
I'll be demonstrating this process on the Elementary OS platform. If your platform of choice varies, you'll have to modify the Tor installation steps slightly.
With that said, let's get to work.
I'm going to walk you through the process of installing Tor from source. Why? Because on some distributions (such as Elementary OS), installing from a PPA fails every time. That's okay, because installing from source isn't that challenging. Here's what you have to do.
- Download the source tarball from the official Tor site.
- Open a terminal and change into the directory housing the download.
- Unpack the download with the command tar xvzf tor-*.tar.gz.
- Compile the source with the command ./configure && make.
- Install the application with the command sudo make install.
If you receive errors during the compiling phase, you might have to install a couple of dependencies. This can be handled with the command:
sudo apt install libevent-dev libssl-dev
If that doesn't resolve the dependency issues, go back through the make command and check the errors it produced—which will give you all the clues you need for the missing dependencies. Once you've taken care of the dependencies, go back through the above steps and install again. It should compile and install just fine.
Installing the Chrome extension
With Tor installed, let's add the necessary extension to Chrome. Here's how:
- Open Chrome
- Point the browser to the Tor Button extension page
- Click ADD TO CHROME
- When prompted, click Add extension
- Allow the installation to complete
Time to use this one-two combination.
Starting Tor and the Tor extension
Head back to the terminal window. Tor is started with the command tor. You will not receive your bash prompt back, which is okay (as it will serve to remind you that Tor is running—Figure A).
With Tor bootstrapped, go back to your Chrome browser and click on the Tor icon in the main toolbar. From the resulting popup, click on the purple Tor icon and the browser will automatically connect to your Tor network at 127.0.0.1:9050 ( Figure B).
Chrome is now connected to the Tor network. Your browsing is anonymous.
Make sure to shut it down
When you're done browsing with Tor, make sure to stop the Chrome extension (click on the Tor Browser icon and click the gray Tor icon) then go back to the terminal window and hit [Ctrl]+[c] to stop the Tor service. Once you've disconnected, your browser traffic is no longer running through the anonymous Tor network. You're good to go.
- How to make Tor less vulnerable to RAPTOR attacks (TechRepublic)
- Serious about online privacy? Try these 2 browsers (TechRepublic Video)
- If you're really concerned about browser security, Incognito isn't enough (TechRepublic)
- Concerned about browsing privacy? Here's how to install Firefox Focus (TechRepublic)
- A serious Tor browser flaw leaks users' real IP addresses (ZDNet)
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.