One of my friends keeps telling me that it's useless to use Tor on Windows, as Windows is full of key-loggers, Trojans and other malware, and if they want to identify me it will be easy because of Windows, unlike Linux .

Is this true? If so why?

  • 3
    Basically, it comes down to this: Windows is closed source. You have no idea what is going on inside. Especially with the recent Snowden links, you should not use closed source software when it comes to security. Look up Tails, it is very easy to set up.
    – user3349
    Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 18:14
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    IMO, TOR on Windows, TOR on Linux, Tails, WhoNix, etc. all have the potential for "someone" determining you identity or evesdropping on your communication. Regardelss of your operating system, or how many hops or nodes there are in your route, or whether or not the packets are encrypted, all communication uses the same TCP/IP protocols, same HTTP/HTTPS protocols, same encryption algorithms, same routers, backbones, fiber optics cables, same telecoms, same cloud hosting companies; all of which have been or can be comprimised [allegedly]. I think it comes down to, depending upon what anonymizing
    – user3740
    Commented Sep 28, 2014 at 15:39

5 Answers 5


"...Windows is full of key-loggers, Trojans and..."

is a bit overblown.

  • In general, the chances of a Windows box being infected with malware are higher than a Linux box. Mainly because Windows is a very popular target.

  • Since Windows is closed source, as opposed to Linux which is open source, you (the user/consumer) can not tell what key-logging, screen-snooping, home-calling stuff is in there 'by design', even if you keep it clean from (3d party) malware.
    Windows code is scrutinized by Microsoft, (whose main concern is shareholder value?). Linux code is scrutinized by many internet strangers (whose main concern is running a stable / secure OS?).

  • Would you run Tor if it were closed source?

Having said that.. ..using Tor on Windows is still less dangerous than using IE6 on Windows. ;-)

  • 1
    Using Tor on Windows is still less dangerous than using ANY other browser. Tor is just an added level of protection for your traffic on the internet. If your system is infected with keyloggers and other malware, that really has nothing to do with Tor. +1 for the last line though, made me chuckle. Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 18:30
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    I think that's a poor summary. Being closed source doesn't mean that you can't run Wireshark and see what data a computer sends out. There are also commercial companies such as Red Hat who do care about Linux security as part of caring about shareholder value.
    – Christian
    Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 21:58
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    Mm Heartbleed, Shellshock. Yup, no security issues in open source.
    – Jeff
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 1:52

The recent shellshock vulnerability shows that no operating system is truly safe. Out of the box, they can all be infected or exploited. With a well thought out and implemented security policy, they can all be made reasonably safe. Currently available tools can make any operating system very resistant to malware, if the user has the skill to configure them and the discipline to stay within their security policy.

One the biggest issue with Windows is the extensive usage records it stores of your activities. The newer the version of Windows is, the more user data it stores, and the harder it is to disable and eliminate those usage tracks. I won''t go so far as to call Windows a trojan. That said, applications that behave like current versions of Windows are labelled as spyware.


Aside from the concerns expressed by Jobiwan and Herbalist, there is generally an association between the Windows product key and the user's identity. We know that activation and Windows Genuine Advantage testing require valid product keys. And so it's arguable that an adversary could identify users with cooperation from Microsoft, OEMs and retailers.


Fundamentally, the Tor browser hides your IP address from the service that you are talking to, and mitigates how the service might fingerprint you. This happens on all the platforms that Tor browser supports. Claiming that Windows Tor browser does any less is pretty much horseshit. If this is all you need, using Tor on any platform is fine.

If you want assurance that after you exit your Tor browser (say, running from an encrypted USB), no activity is left on your computer. Windows is probably not a good platform as it's hard to gauge what traces are left, even with Tor browser.

If you are prone to be running malware on your system, and you still expect Tor browser to protect your anonymity. Well, good luck to you on any platform. If I were your enemies, I would be happy that you think so. If I were your confederate, I would run away from you as fast as I can move my behind.


Let us start with that Linux has tcp/ip while Windows uses XNS with NETBIOS - Microsoft has just made Windows to work with the Internet they way they want to interface. There is none of the tcp/ip security.

It is not related to open vs closed source code, it is related to the Internet security that is in tcp/ip and never has been on Windows. Stop this "they have done it their way": MS has never tried to implement any security. Your connections stays open, are not taken down. Your connections are not point-to-point, they are shared between "applications". You can write, (well in C/C++) code that can intercept everything on your system, and leave nothing private. Be my guest, shower in public, others do it all the time. Just understand, it is in public display. "I will try to shelter my Internet activity with a TOR browser" - be my guest, shower with niqab!

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