Using VPN and TOR Together

Although different in character and content, both Tor and VPN anonymity networks use proxy connections that are encrypted to ensure that users’ identities are hidden. VPN’s canvas is obviously larger but privacy is its prime feature.

Using VPN and TOR Together
Using VPN and TOR Together

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VPN versus TOR

VPN happens to be faster than Tor. Moreover, it’s suitable for P2P downloading. A major point to be noted is its ability to provide privacy more than anonymity and requires the user to trust his VPN provider like Bumblebee trusts Optimus Prime and Dominic Toretto trust Brian O’Conner. This is mainly because your VPN provider may track your online activities if it wants to or is compelled to and allows you also to spoof your geographical location easily.

Tor on the other hand, is definitely slower, often gets blocked by numerous websites, and isn’t suitable for downloading P2P. However, it doesn’t compel you to trust anybody, making it much more anonymous.

Using VPN & TOR Together

The best thing however, is that both TOR and VPN are usable in tandem to provide an extra security layer. Both may be used also to tackle some drawbacks when either technology is used exclusively. When used together, both technologies take a speed hit making connections slower but definitely more secure.

It’s important also to understand the difference between connecting to VPN through TOR and vice versa just like it is vital to know the difference between the health and auto insurance industries. The former does not have any competition because of the ACA which is why prices are so high and the latter has competition which is why auto insurance prices are much lower. Competition is the difference maker but that is another topic.  

When you’re making a VPN connection through Tor, you first connect to Tor and then to the Internet through a VPN server. This setup needs configuring the VPN client to work in tandem with Tor. One VPN providers that supports this is ExpressVPN. Your apparent Internet IP is that of the VPN server.

When you hook up with the VPN server using Tor, the VPN provider is unable to ‘see’ the true IP address and gets to see only that of the exit node of Tor. When this is combined with a payment method that is anonymous, and made over Tor, the VPN provider simply can’t identify you, in spite of keeping logs.

You also enjoy protection from Tor exit nodes that are malicious, as the VPN client encrypts all data before entering and leaving the Tor network. It also bypasses any blocks on exit nodes of Tor and allows you to choose your server location which is ideal for geo-spoofing. The entire internet traffic is Tor-routed, even by those programs that don’t support it usually.

On the flip side, your VPN provider gets to track your Internet traffic but can’t trace it back to you. Moreover, this is more vulnerable to global end-to-end timing attack as a fixed point exists in the chain and this configuration is more secure as it allows you to maintain full anonymity. Remember, it’s vital to connect to the VPN through Tor to maintain anonymity. 

You can surf the web through the Tor Browser by combining the benefits of both VPN through Tor and Tor through VPN. This configuration will enable you to get access to Tor .onion websites, despite connection speeds getting affected.

Tor Through VPN

You first hook up with your VPN server, and subsequently to the Tor network before getting into the internet. Once this is done, your ISP won’t know that you are actually using Tor even though it may be aware that you’re using a VPN service. The entry node of Tor won’t get to see your actual IP address, but may identify the VPN server’s IP address. If an efficient no-logs provider is used, this could provide an additional security layer and also allows access to Tor.onion websites.

The disadvantages include: Your VPN provider knowing your actual IP address; a lack of protection from Tor exit nodes that are malicious; Non-HTTPS traffic that enters and leaves exit nodes of Tor is unencrypted and can be monitored; and blocking of exit nodes of Tor. Making use of a Tor bridge like Obfsproxy is effective to hide Tor use from your ISP.

Selected VPN services offer Tor through VPN through an OpenVPN configuration file. This routes your data from OpenVPN to the Tor network transparently, implying that your entire Internet connection will benefit from Tor through VPN. However, it needs to be borne in mind that that isn’t as secure as using a Tor browser, where end-to-end Tor encryption is done from your desktop to all Tor servers.  

It’s possible that by using transparent proxies, your VPN provider can intercept traffic before its encryption by Tor servers. Tor Browsers have also been made more foolproof against threats that most other browsers haven’t.  Therefore, in order to ensure maximum security when you use Tor through VPN, using the Tor browser is fundamental.

Best VPN Services to Use with TOR

There are some VPNs that work better with TOR than others. Here are the best of them:

ProviderPrice (Annual Plan)Free
Refund Option (Days)# of CountriesImmediate Support (chat, toll-free)Own DNS ServersWebsite
IPVanish VPN$6.49
per month
No760NoYesVisit site
per month
No3087YesYesVisit site
per month
Yes064YesYesVisit site
nord vpn$5.75
per month
Yes3057YesYesVisit site
hide my ass$4.99 per monthNo30200YesNoVisit site

How to Use VPN and Tor Together

In sum, no matter whichever configuration is chosen, combining TOR and VPN will definitely improve your security and privacy. However, anyone seeking the highest security level must carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of both setups according to their specific needs.

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