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I'm wondering what would be the case to use Orbot-tethering?

  • If I'm using Tails or Whonix, I will use the normal network-connection and internet provider (maybe via Android-tethering) and I'm fine!
    --> In this case Orbot-tethering will be useless; it makes my connection even slower and doubles the load of the Tor-network... (or not?)
  • Also if I'm using my daily OS with Tor Browser Bundle, will it be the same case as above?
  • Maybe Orbot-tethering will be useful for someone who has no freedom to choose his OS or browser, but in this case I doubt he has the choice of his network/internet connection.

So when will/should Orbot-tethering be used?
Are my cases/thoughts wrong? - Will Orbot-tethering add some "extra-security" in some cases?

5 Answers 5

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It might be useful for IOS devices, or any other device that you can't run Tor on. I could also imagine a scenario where you'd be using a public computer/laptop/tablet and you want to quickly setup a secure connection.

Bottom line, it's useful for devices that you don't own

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  • concerning public devices (you don't own): this scenario i described in my third point... in most cases i doubt you can setup your own network connection. :-/ Feb 24, 2016 at 11:05
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    concerning iOS: well, that is the point... i'm really not sure that something like this is the idea behind orbot-tethering!!! - there are a ton of security risks at this usage scenario and would/should be the last possibility of using Tor! AND why you won't use Tor from the android device directly? Feb 24, 2016 at 11:29
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it is not really an exact answer, but a good collection of suggestions related to this topic:

  • You should, wherever possible, use tor on the local system. [...] If you can run Tor Browser on the laptop and just use the phone as a hotspot, prefer that option!
  • And avoid running Tor-over-Tor, allow the laptop to connect directly to the internet through the hotspot and run Tor Browser as normal.

(citation from canonizing ironize: https://tor.stackexchange.com/a/11911/5234)


concerning Tor-over-Tor more clear statements: rule of thumb: mo' hops, mo' probs!

  • Please note that a Tor-over-Tor connection will always, without exception, be less safe than a normal Tor connection.
  • Never, ever use Tor-over-Tor. It is always less safe.

(citation from canonizing ironize: https://tor.stackexchange.com/a/11820/5234)


some good statements and links at the Whonix and Tor wiki itself with a kind of explanation regarding Tor-over-Tor:

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It can add some extra security, but it's not a significant upgrade in all the cases. The problem/implication is the IPTables binary + root access. If you have a root access to your device, and your kernel is running OK with a system-wide iptables - it will add some security for sure, like piping all the traffic through Tor. If you have a factory-licked kernel - there are usually problems with IPTables and there's no way to ensure that all the traffic is piped through Tor's TransPort.

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  • ok... so when can/will it add some extra security? -- and in which cases Orbot-tethering should/must be used? Apr 25, 2016 at 15:57
  • @DJCrashdummy in case of using a device with root access and especially in case of using AOSP firmware built for device by hand - you can even integrate Tor in it! There's no must-case, but it should be used if you have another tablet, usually like a cheap noname one, without any radio module but WiFi, and without GPS, of course. Then it will be of maximum service
    – Alexey Vesnin
    Apr 25, 2016 at 19:12
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In many cases, i.e. with Tor-browser, Tor is only used for anonymizing web traffic, setting up your local machine to use tor for all traffic can be difficult and requires use of iptables, etc and can be potentially defeated by malicious software running on your localhost. Using orbot-tethering transparently routes all your traffic over the Tor network.

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I know this is old, so sorry if new info came to light by the time I write this, however there are MANY benefits (AND downsides!) to Orbot Tethering!

As stated previously, forcing a device to route all traffic through Tor can be very difficult. In fact, this is why some people choose Tails OS as you said before.

And of course you don't have the rights to set-up/configure the network. That's the point of Tor. Preventing those that have control of the networks from peering in to the private connection. Tails doesn't need access to the router to be secure, and neither does Orbot.

For the Tor-through-Tor, this is a great misunderstanding... Orbot as a hotspot is similar to Tails as an OS. You no longer inherently need the Tor-Browser-Bundle at all for Tor access (Tails still does for consistency, but that "Tor" doesn't double-route you because it knows it's running through Tails. This can be proven by installing another browser and testing the IP)

Keep in mind, the above fact has drawbacks too. Exit relays can attempt to image your traffic, and if you make "clearnet" logins, your entire Tor Circuit is potentially thwarted. You can read more by finding the 3rd attack technique here (The article is technically about Torrents but the 3rd attack explains in further detail the drawbacks): https://blog.torproject.org/bittorrent-over-tor-isnt-good-idea/

The easiest way to think of the usage is by looking at today's setup.

-Tor Browser for Android is like the Tor-Browser-Bundle, strictly routing browser traffic through Tor and nothing else.

-Orbot works like Tails at the network level, enforcing all traffic goes through the Tor Chain at a "router" level (or VPN locally) instead of an OS level.

Hopefully my answer wasn't too long and confusing... Happy connecting!

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