I have repeatedly seen people describe combining Tor and a VPN using the following notation: Tor --> VPN or VPN --> Tor or even Tor --> VPN --> Proxy but then not provide any real-world example of how this is set up.

For example, does Tor --> VPN mean that I have a VPN client running on my Mac through which all of my traffic is tunnelled, then point Firefox to a locally running instance of Tor thereby all of my Tor traffic is running inside of the VPN tunnel?

Or is it something else entirely? Can somebody please give me a concrete example of each setup?

Edit: I really should've added an example of what I was talking about, I was primarily referring to the examples given in the Tor wiki on the subject.

  • Where have you seen this? Can you give an example? – Andrew Lott Jan 30 '14 at 14:51

Quite simple. You are taking the first protocol and routing it through the second protocol. The page you mention discusses the benefits of each one and gives the details.

As an example if you want to run a Tor relay, but don't want your ISP to know you are doing so, you would wrap the Tor traffic in a VPN session, or Tor-over-VPN, written Tor --> VPN. The VPN provider knows what IP you connected from, but not where you are connecting to. Your ISP won't know you are running a relay.

Different methods are achieved in different ways, but one way to do Tor --> VPN is by running the VPN on your router and the Tor client/relay on your computer.

The drawbacks of this complexity is you add latency to increase security.

  • So to clarify, if I run the Tor Browser Bundle on my laptop whilst connected to my VPN provider that would be: Tor --> VPN? Thanks! – robotsandcake Feb 12 '14 at 18:03
  • Correct. The Tor connection is routed over the VPN. – user1143 Feb 28 '14 at 3:35

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