5 Best VPNs to use with Tor for double internet protection
The data flow would look like this. You -> VPN -> TOR -> Internet/Darknet.
The data flow would look like this. You -> Tor -> VPN -> Internet
AirVPN supports Onion over VPN, which gives you an added layer of protection by hiding your IP address from the exit node of Tor!
If you wish to connect over Tor over AirVPN:
AirVPN is one of the very few providers that supports the “VPN through Tor” configuration.
AirVPN will not see your real IP address but the IP of the Tor exit node
The functionality requires no configuration as it’s built into the client.
Access to .onion sites only from browsers configured to connect directly to Tor. Technically because they use a connection that had been established before the VPN connection started.
Based in Italy, AirVPN is considered to be the best VPN for Tor.
NordVPN has an OpenVPN configuration file that supports Tor through VPN.
Through NordVPN you can access the TOR network with the Swedish, Netherlands and Latvia VPN servers.
After this first layer of encryption your ISP has no idea you are using TOR.
In your software simply select a server as an entry point to the Tor network and click connect.
Then launch your normal browser (Usually, the Onion network can only be accessed with the Onion browser, while with NordVPN’s Onion over VPN servers you don’t need to download it).
Tuto + Best
TOR over VPN – this is the most original and the major advantage of NordVPN.
With Onion over NordVPN you will access to a very controversial part of the internet. Apart from surfing securely and anonymously on the traditional and classic network (clearweb), Tor also proposes a selection of hidden services (deepweb) for its users, sites with addresses with the suffix “.onion” which are only accessible through Tor.
NordVPN also has a zero-logging policy and top-level encryption for further security
VPN over TOR provides an additional privacy layer as our VPN server will not see your real IP address, but the IP of the TOR exit node.
You’ll need to configure your VPN client to work with Tor.
Proxy.SH is another reliable VPN for Tor. Proxy.SH has a lot of configureability with TOR:
The only downside of Proxy.SH is that it seems to be tailored to the needs of advanced VPN users, and this might put off beginners or casual users.
You connect first to an ibVPN server, and then to the Tor network, before accessing the internet.
The result: you may access the TOR network and websites (.onion) directly from your browser through these servers without the need to install any other additional TOR Browser software.
IbVPN currently offers Tor over VPN servers in the Netherlands (tornl.ibvpn.com), Singapore (torsg.ibvpn.com), and the US (torus.ibvpn.com).
You’ll need to upgrade to their Ultimate VPN package to get full access.
If you use VPN over TOR, your actual IP is not exposed to PrivateVPN, as TOR acts as a bridge between your computer and PrivateVPN servers.
However, the functionality requires manual configuration as it’s not built into the client.
Just like AirVPN, the PrivateVPN service offers VPN over Tor.
PrivateVPN offers true anonymity with its Tor over VPN functionality.
What is the TOR Network ?
A beginner's guide to the privacy tool: An acronym standing for The Onion Router, TOR is a decentralised computer network that allows you to dissimulate the origin of your internet connection thanks to a system of « onion layers of routing ». This means passing the communication across an encrypted circuit composed of several computer up to the final destination, offering a high level of anonymity.
TOR does 3 things:
Protects the analysis of traffic
Lets you surf the internet anonymously and securely.
It also allows access to a very controversial part of the internet. Apart from surfing securely and anonymously on the traditional and classic network (clearweb), Tor also proposes a selection of hidden services (deepweb) for its users, sites with addresses with the suffix “.onion” which are only accessible through Tor. Some of the websites on the deep web definitely contain adult content, disturbing content or possibly illegal activity (i.e. drug markets, gun markets, hacking services etc.) and we highly recommending you to think twice before accessing .onion websites.
Anyone can use it for free. You just need to install and launch the programme TBB, Tor Browser Bundle, to start “anonymously” surfing the internet. Initially the programme connects your system to the Tor network. Once the connection is established with Tor, the Tor browser will automatically launch a modified and configured Firefox.
To manually verify, if you are connected to the Tor network or not, use the site https://check.torproject.org/
You can get a better idea of the size of TOR and get to know more about the IP (relay) that is attributed to you (an IP that changes at regular intervals) with https://metrics.torproject.org/rs.html.
In fact, the number of relays is an essential point: this is what gives the network its power. More relays, more pathways available on the network, more security. More relays also means more bandwidth so a faster a less saturated network.
If the programme itself is free, the total number of servers that transmit information has a high cost ($2 million/year for developing the project and funding the servers). So the project members often launch appeals for funding, asking for monetary contributions from its users. Financing also comes from large donations, some from the American government who fund 60% in order to support freedom of expression and scientific research.
Tor Browser offers a robust solution for the protection of your private life, based on:
- A method of routing in charge of making connections anonymous. In effect, the Tor client chooses from the many Tor relays, a random path before arriving at the destination server. The Tor client is creating an international circuit. The packet is routed across several relays, which makes the connection source difficult to identify. Each of the Tor nodes used by a packet transmitting it across the network only knows the previous and following node. Each relay cannot know the full journey of all the information sent by the user.
- Encrypting communication. Tor encrypts everything within the network using public and private keys. In fact everything is encrypted up to the exit node which will decrypt the messages and send them to the destination server unencrypted (this is why you should use TOR in HTTPS).
But TOR has some limits:
- Tor can protect the origin of your traffic and encrypt everything within the Tor network, but it can't encrypt your traffic between Tor and its final destination. If you are sending sensitive information, you need to use the same precautions you would on the internet – use HTTPS.
- Don't open any downloaded files when you are connected.
- Tor cannot guarantee protection of UDP packets.
TOR vs VPN
Both VPN and Tor can be used to bypass internet censorship and to protect your privacy. Now we need to ask ourselves if one or the other is a better service. Even if they can be used together rather than separately.
Both Tor and VPN have their advantages and disadvantages.
- High level of anonymity – users of the network are very hard to identify. Instead of using a direct path from source to destination, the packets follow a random trajectory across many servers which cannot be tracked. Traceability of connections is extremely difficult since it ricochets several times before arriving at the final server.
- Simplicity – you just need to download the package, extract the archive and start Tor. It is very well secured and includes an optimised version of Firefox pre-configured by the Tor project.
- Slow – because Tor has to encrypt everything (every node on the circuit has its own secret key which can only identify the previous and following node within the circuit) between you and the Tor network, while at the same time the Tor client chooses amongst the multiple Tor relays, the random pathway before arriving at the destination server, this means that your connection speed is much slower than normal.
- The final « node » can assemble them all, so potentially (if it is a corrupted « node ») recuperate all the information stocked in the request (passwords, logins ...) or manipulate data before sending it on to the recipient. (N.B. This will not be a problem if you are using .onion sites). For this reason a VPN like Proxy.Sh proposes to secure this weakness: Configure your TOR client bundle to use Proxy.sh as exit node
- .onion sites are often inaccessible or closed.
- Better security – it is better to choose a VPN since you are the one to choose it. As with TOR, VPNs also see your request in its unencrypted form but the main difference is that you know the service you connect to, you know if you can trust them or not.
- Anonymity? The eternal debate! Some people will tell you that TOR is more anonymous than VPN (encryption + routing). But we prefer VPN (assuming you use No Logs and respect a payment and registration method that is mostly anonymous).
- Protects the entirety of the network – all programmes supported.
- A good VPN service costs money (~$30-60/year), although it is not very expensive.
Using VPN plus TOR
What about the complementarity of using both services at once? The cool thing is that VPN and Tor can be used together in order provide an extra layer of security, and to mitigate some of the drawbacks of using either technology exclusively.
Do I need to use a VPN to connect to TOR or vice versa? In fact the more important question is which service to use first to connect to the second. Using one or the other first will change everything and will provide different results.
Be careful – there is no point in connecting to TOR then to your VPN (or the other way around) to create a TOR over VPN route (or vice versa) if your VPN isn't configured specially. Although this is a possibility, we would definitely not recommend you to try this. If your VPN doesn't offer a TOR option then you will create two parallel routes that are not unique!.
Tor through VPN is the most common setup. The data flow would look like this. You -> VPN -> TOR -> Internet
When you use the Tor over VPN configuration, you’d first connect to your VPN before opening TOR. The VPN will encrypt your traffic before it is sent through the Tor network.
TOR over VPN has 3 advantages
Onion over VPN gives you an added layer of security by hiding your IP address from the entry node. Instead of getting your IP address, that node gets the address of the VPN server you’re connected to instead. Tor has a habit of storing your IP address at the entry node which can provide security issues of its own.
One important benefit is that our VPN prevents your ISP or any other snoopers from knowing you’re using the Tor network.
Another advantage to Tor over VPN is that your VPN service can not see your traffic content inside the Tor network.
The major drawback of this connection is that exit nodes can still watch your traffic unencrypted, because the traffic goes through the VPN, and then to the Tor network. Your IP address is protected after your Internet traffic is decrypted at the exit node but Your are not protected against malicious Tor exit nodes if you send/receive unencrypted traffic to/from the final host you connect to.
When using NordVPN’s Onion over VPN feature, your internet traffic routes through their dedicated VPN server first and then sent to the Tor Network. Upon reaching the final destination on the internet via the Tor exit relays, you stay completely anonymous online.
Using the feature does not require any rocket science. Simply launch the NordVPN application and Click on the "Countries option" => “Speciality Servers” tab. Select “Onion over VPN” to activate the protocol. They offer three Onion over VPN Servers. Now select server which is least loaded.
After clicking on server, it will take one or less minute to establish a connection, then launch your browser. Tor Browser is the most reliable tool for browsing .onion sites, and it will also help you stay secure on the .onion network, which can be a risky place!
The data flow would look like this. You -> Tor -> VPN -> Internet
This involves setting your internet connection through Tor first, then through a secure VPN server, and then on to the internet. It is the less common option, and not many VPNs actually support it.
VPN over TOR has 3 advantages
Your true IP address is never revealed to your VPN (Although Tor’s entry node can still see your real IP). Since you connect to a VPN server through Tor, it is impossible for your VPN to see your real IP address.
Also this provides protection against a compromised Tor exit since the data is encrypted when it passes through it.
Support to non-TCP applications which can not be supported by Tor
The major drawback of this connection is that it can be extremely slow.
AirVPN is one of the only services that we know of which offers VPN over Tor, where you connect first to the Tor network, then to AirVPN. This connection type is only available when using the AirVPN client, because it’s software talks to Tor Control to detect and route correctly the guard(s) IP addresses. Otherwise an infinite connection loop occurs because communication between Tor and the guard node (the first node of each circuit) will fall back to the VPN causing errors.
- First you need to install the Tor browser bundle from the AirVPN website.
- Set Tor as the connection mode in AirVPN -> Preferences -> Protocols tab, press the Test button.
AirVPN over Onion will increase your anonymity since your base IP comes from TOR. First you connect to TOR, then to VPN. So you are already protected by TOR's IP. Then you connect to the VPN and carry on as normal. TOR serves to provide the original IP. So even your VPN does not know your IP from your ISP. Combined with an anonymous payment system , it provides the user with another level of privacy.