The Tor network is a particular instrument that helps you move somewhat anonymously around the web. Because of how it works, it can facilitate things like letting you visit otherwise inaccessible websites.
However, Tor isn’t perfect since it’s mainly about obfuscation. That still allows your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or anyone else to track your digital moves. That’s why you should consider using Tor together with a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for better digital security.
Not all will work with Tor, however. If you want to use a VPN and Tor in combo, here are three quality and trusted brands that make the best privacy-protecting partner:
Several childhood friends established NordVPN, and many consider it the most progressive in terms of technology adoption. NordVPN guarantees a strict zero-logs policy. They operate out of Panama, where there are no mandatory data retention laws.
Jurisdiction is essential since some countries mandate data retention – something you don’t want your VPN service provider doing. Independent audits carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) have confirmed that NordVPN does not keep any traffic, IP address, or even connection logs.
What Makes NordVPN Good for Tor
You’d be glad to know that NordVPN gives users access to servers specially pre-configured with Tor over VPN. The traffic is first sent through the VPN and then automatically redirected through the Tor network. So, if you would like to use other applications with Tor, this is perfect.
NordVPN also offers DNS and IPv6 leak protection. A double-VPN option is available, and you can use this with the Tor browser for a total of two VPN routes along with the Tor network. This combo adds multiple layers of security but may slow down your connection.
NordVPN also boasts 256-bit AES encryption which is as good as it gets. With over 5,000 ultra-fast servers in 60 countries, accessibility is another notable aspect of the brand. These servers are secured with top-notch encryption and are RAM-only servers that wipe all data with each reboot.
An automatic kill switch gives bulletproof security via just a click; it kills your internet connection should you have problems with the VPN server connection. Nothing goes in or out of your device the moment NordVPN senses that server connection loss.
NordVPN supports multiple platforms, including Windows, Android, Linux, iOS, macOS, Chrome and Firefox extensions, AndroidTV, Xbox, Playstation, and more.
How Much Does NordVPN Cost?
The lowest price for NordVPN is around $3.71 per month. NordVPN’s paid plans are straightforward – the longer you commit to them, the less you’ll pay per month. There are also no hidden fees, and all their plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. A paid subscription plan secures up to six simultaneous connections.
Although Surfshark is relatively new to the VPN market, it’s made huge waves with its stellar all-around performance. Based in the privacy-friendly British Virgin Islands (where there are no data retention laws), Surfshark first emerged from the waters in 2018.
Like NordVPN, Surfsark gets independently audited by a third party to assure users it doesn’t keep logs. Although they keep some aggregate data for diagnostic purposes, these can’t be associated with specific user accounts.
What Makes Surfshark Good for Tor
Surfshark is a great budget choice for a multitude of uses, including use in combination with Tor. It’s also generous in connection allocation, allowing an unlimited number of devices connected simultaneously with each account.
Surfshark also employs top-notch encryption to help safeguard all your web traffic. Everything gets coated with 256-bit encryption in conjunction with an SHA-512 authentication hash and 2048-bit DHE-RSA key exchange.
Surfshark leverages several key protocols, such as the tried and tested OpenVPN as well as IKEv2. The former is the de-facto standard for blazing speeds and security, whereas the latter is more suited for mobile networks.
Yet what makes it shine is WireGuard, an emerging lightweight, open-source protocol that’s offering even better speeds, excellent security, and compatibility with major operating systems.
The inclusion of a kill switch function helps ensure you’re safe even though you face connection issues. Also, Surfshark offers you protection against leaks; IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks were tested and found negative.
In addition to this, Surfshark offers CleanWeb that blocks malware, trackers, ads, and phishing attempts. The MultiHop feature, a Double VPN function, provides that extra protection layer that is great for torrenting.
Surfshark has expanded its servers to over 3,000 servers in 65 countries. This breadth of choice is excellent for localized access when you need it. It also prevents server overcrowding since if one is too busy, simply move on to the next.
Surfshark supports many platforms such as Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android, Fire TV, Apple TV, Samsung TV, Fire TV, Roku, Android TV, LG TV, Chromecast, Nvidia Shield, Xbox, PlayStation, and others. You can also find a Surfshark browser plugin for Chrome and Firefox.
How Much Does Surfshark Cost?
The cheapest price tag on Surfshark is a mere $2.21 per month. This rate comes with a 24-month commitment. There are shorter subscriptions, but you won’t save as much on the deal. You also have the option to activate their Surfshark One package, which includes additional features such as Surfshark Antivirus, Surfshark Alert, and Surfshark Search.
Based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), ExpressVPN was founded in 2009 by Peter Burchhardt and Dan Pomerantz. ExpressVPN is a watertight option as they claim to abide by a strict no-logs policy. Both Cure53 and PwC audit the policy.
Since ExpressVPN operates in the privacy-friendly BVI, you can rest assured that this keeps it out of the purview of surveillance alliance countries. Although they do not retain traffic logs or monitor user activities, they keep connection logs that contain the connection date, not the time, the server used and the amount of data transferred per user.
What Makes ExpressVPN Good for Tor
ExpressVPN is another excellent choice for Tor. This is because it has launched a hidden service within the Tor network itself. As such, there is an ExpressVPN own .onion site in the Tor network. This is so that you can find a safe and anonymous way to access ExpressVPN’s website, especially for those living and working in high-censorship countries.
The service boasts the highest security standards, including 256-bit AES encryption, hiding online traffic at all nodes in the Tor network, including the entry and exit nodes. By default, ExpressVPN uses Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS); this ensures that compromised or stolen encryption keys do not affect the security of past or future communications.
ExpressVPN also offers TrustedServer technology, taking privacy one step further by ensuring that its servers are RAM-based. All data is wiped with each reboot, and servers do not write to the hard drive, minimizing any data risks.
There are many security protocols for you to choose from, including OpenVPN, which comes with the most advanced security features with minimal impact on your speed. The automatic kill switch disconnects you from the internet if ever your VPN server connection is compromised. This protects you and prevents your real IP from being exposed to Tor’s entry nodes. This is on top of offering you DNS and IPv6 leak protection too.
ExpressVPN has blazing speeds, which is an important consideration when it comes to using Tor. With a total of over 3,000 servers located in 160 locations, 94 countries, you can expect a point of connection almost anywhere. Also, these servers offer high speeds, great reliability, and unlimited bandwidth.
How Much Does ExpressVPN Cost?
The cheapest rate you’ll find on ExpressVPN hovers at around $6.67 per month. They’re the Rolls Royce of VPN brands, and pricing comes at a premium. They justify this higher price due to being speedy and versatile with lots of features. With a single subscription, you can connect up to five devices simultaneously, regardless of the platform.
Understanding Tor and VPNs
Tor is an open network developed to allow people to browse the internet anonymously, including the dark web. The system obfuscates your origin by routing your data through a network of servers. In the Tor network, data paths are continuously changing, so tracing is extremely difficult.
You may think that using Tor alone to ensure your web browsing activities remain truly incognito is sufficient, especially when you’re looking to access the dark web, but this provides only a rudimentary layer of anonymity for your online activities.
Comparatively, VPNs route data through private servers while encrypting it for better security and privacy. While more secure, it does mean you’ll need to have great trust in your VPN brand of choice. It’s also a better means of masking your IP since those servers will not allow your origin to get traced.
For better privacy, some prefer to use a VPN with Tor. Pairing a VPN with Tor gets you a dynamic duo that effectively and efficiently protects your privacy and data.
Both VPNs and Tor have advantages, but remember that Tor, while free, is comparatively primitive. Privacy is seldom assured, although tracking is more complex. Ideally, just use a VPN service for the best performance.
If you seriously want (or need) to use Tor, make sure to use a VPN service in combination. Not all VPNs support Tor traffic, so check if your preferred brand supports it before signing up for length subscription plans.