11

One can fully torify a system using Qubes OS TorVM, Whonix or a custom transparent proxy. Everything gets torified, even Adobe Flash.

Why should one use Tor Browser even though everything is already torified and can't just use Firefox or Chrome?

8

Using such a system only prevents IP address leaks. The Tor Browser has many, many patches to reduce fingerprintability and fix privacy-breaking bugs. Think of it like this: Does it really help that no one can get your IP, if they can potentially link up all of your online identities? There are various and subtle ways of tracking a browser across the web that popular anti-tracking addons do not defend against; without the advanced work of the TBB there is a chance you'll end up in tracking databases anyway.

  • 2
    Attempting to avoid tracking with a single browser, even Tor-optimized Firefox, is arguably a losing battle. It's better to use multiple machines, or at least VMs, and to never mix or associate incompatible activities. With care, tracking databases can be useful in establishing pseudonyms, pseudonyms of pseudonyms, and so on. Just for fun, google mirimir ;) – mirimir Oct 15 '13 at 3:42
  • Maybe I'm not being clear enough. If you want to be anonymous, by all means use TBB, or better Tails or Whonix. But if you want to be certain that some of your online activity is even less associated with the rest of it, use multiple machines with TBB, and compartmentalize. – mirimir Oct 16 '13 at 2:48
  • @ducks "only prevents and IP address leaks" there is something missing between 'prevents' and 'and'. – bastik Oct 16 '13 at 15:02
  • A typo. I'm losing my edge... ;^) – Ducks Oct 16 '13 at 16:33
  • I would say that only protecting your IP is very useful in protecting your location information; i.e. you are IRL going into hiding or something :P – ithisa Feb 28 '14 at 19:36
2

Configuring another browser to connect using Tor is reasonably easy. The more difficult problems are:

  1. Making certain that all the traffic goes through Tor, including DNS requests.
  2. Eliminating all the means by which your browser can reveal your real IP.
  3. Making the data revealed via javascript, browser headers, ETags, etc agree with each other without appearing unique in any way.
  4. Being in control of all attempts to "call home" by your browser, including the extensions and plugins and all attempts to install, update, or modify them.
  5. Properly configuring the history, cookies, cache, and any other data storage to not reveal anything that can be used to identify, track, or profile you.

The Tor Browser is equipped and configured to make it very difficult to tell one Tor Browser user from another, but it doesn't hide the fact that you are using the Tor Browser. Torrifying your own browser can make it more difficult to identify you as a Tor user. That said, if you overlook anything, make a mistake with your setup, or fail to secure it against undesired changes, you're uniquely identifiable. Most users don't have the skills necessary to accomplish these things or the patience to examine and test all of the necessary details. It's entirely possible to make another browser work properly through Tor. It's just a lot more work than most realize.

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    1. and 2. aren't issues when using either Qubes OS TorVM, Whonix or a custom transparent proxy. Agreed with the rest. – adrelanos Oct 17 '13 at 1:10
1

It's pseudonymous rather than anonymous.

What's the difference between pseudonymity and anonymity? That deserves its own question.

  • So are you anonymous or pseudoanonymous? – mirimir Oct 16 '13 at 2:43
  • ...Anonymous is anonymous, and pseudoanonymous is partway there. Or something like that. – Ducks Oct 16 '13 at 16:35
  • 1
    It would be great if you could expand on exactly why running a 'normal' web browser makes you pseudonymous instead of anonymous. – Megan Walker Nov 11 '13 at 18:15
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    @Ducks Anonymity means there is no way to distinguish anything you do from anyone else. Pseudonymity means that there is a common identity that can link several actions (e.g. a username, or a browser fingerprint), but that identity doesn't link to your 'real life' identity. – Megan Walker Nov 11 '13 at 18:17

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