Mask  your internet usage - Configuring Tor to use with Signal & web browser

May 08 , 2020

Mask your internet usage - Configuring Tor to use with Signal & web browser

You've just bought your Omerta handset & you want immediately take advantage of the advanced privacy features; but where to start?

The part of modern computing which I love is the fact there are many ways to achieve a task  & each way will have benefits & disadvantages which means your approach to the task at hand is very important. So, for this article, we are going to assume you want to mask your internet usage & communications from Signal. For this, we will use the app called Tor.

Tor is a special tool which is often used by oppressed groups within China to secretly communicate with the outside world & to bypass "The Great Firewall" of China! Given the app is used by people, whom if caught, could at best be locked away in a Gulag for many years & at worst executed, then it is safe to say Tor will certainly hide your usage!

What does Tor do?

Tor directs Internet traffic through a free, worldwide, volunteer overlay network consisting of more than seven thousand relays to conceal a user's location and usage from anyone conducting network surveillance or traffic analysis. In layman's terms your internet connection is routed through a huge amount of computers to hide your whereabouts!

Using Tor makes it more difficult to trace Internet activity to the user: this includes "visits to Web sites, online posts, instant messages, and other communication forms". Tor's intended use is to protect the personal privacy of its users, as well as their freedom and ability to conduct confidential communication by keeping their Internet activities unmonitored.

In the context of your Omerta handset, you can use Tor in conjunction with apps on your phone so for example, you can relay Signal or Vanadium through the Tor network which effectively means your usage is completely hidden.

Why would I want to do this?

When you call someone using Signal, you benefit from encrypted communications. However, the recipient, with the right know-how can ascertain your IP address which can be used to identify your location. Signal has the option to route all communications via their servers which will hide your location, however, the IP address of Signals servers can be used to ascertain you were using Signal! By relaying our internet traffic through Tor we hide our location and behaviour from our Network Provider & from third parties.

How much does Tor cost?

Like the air & speech, Tors cost is free! Open Source at its finest.

Are there disadvantages from using Tor?

In short, yes! By relaying your traffic through the Tor network you are introducing complexity to your connection & you can expect a drop in network speed. In real terms, this translates to poor audio or video quality during communications. However, depending on the speed of your internet connection, the drop in performance might not be noticeable. 

If performance becomes an issue you can move to a paid service which will guarantee a higher level of performance. We recommend ProtonVPN & include the app pre-installed. ProtonVPN is Swiz based and they provide high secure service which keeps no logs of your activities.

How to route Signal & Vandium through the Tor network.

You can configure Tor to automatically launch when you use specific apps on your phone. This is very handy because you probably will not want all traffic to be routed through the Tor network because generally, you incur a 10% throughput performance loss.

Configure Tor to auto-launch 

  • Launch Tor from the phone menu. On successful launching, you will see the following screen.
  • Touch "VPN Disabled" on the bottom of the screen. This launches the app picker.
  • From this screen pick the apps you want to route through the Tor network. In this instance choose Signal & Vandium.
  • To finish click on the arrow on the top left-hand side of the screen.
  • On the Tor screen, you will now see the apps you've added showing across the bottom of the screen.
  • Finally to enable auto launching of Tor touch the "VPN Mode" button
  • If Tor hasn't started, touch the large Onion Icon for Tor to connect.
  • When your traffic is being routed through Tor you will notice a small key icon on the top right-hand side of the screen.

Tor will now relay your internet usage for SIgnal & Vandium via the Tor network automatically. 

As an interesting test, open Vandium and visit Google.com - Search for "What is my IP address" & the results will show your IP address & where you are located Quite often the results will be displayed in a different language which reflects the fact Google believes you are in an overseas territory.