Tor or “The Onion Router” is a piece of software that allows people to browse the internet using an anonymous connection. Internet traffic is directed through a series of relays (over seven thousand available currently), and at each relay, the data is encrypted and decrypted so that no relay or node will know the location of the previous or next relay the data is being sent too. This method of layering (like the layers of an onion), provides a great level of anonymity and is the main reason why Tor is widely used.
Due to the aforementioned drawbacks, there are other alternatives available that provide anonymous browsing in a similar way to the Tor Network.
Hotspot Shield is a well-known internet privacy platform and uses a combination of personal information encryption and VPN shielding to provide you with a secure connection to the internet. Hotspot Shield hides your personal IP address thus hiding your actual location, it also encrypts your data, and data it receives back from the internet before sending it back to you to ensure that nothing malicious can get through. Hotspot Shield has numerous advantages over the Tor Network, mainly the fact that it is a great deal faster than Tor, the fact that it provides data encryption which greatly enhances security, and that Tor relays are often blocked by ISP providers - VPN’s are not.
Subgraph OS (Operating system) is an alternative to the Tor network which is designed to reduce attacks on users and has features like a built-in encryption service and its own native email client. It also takes steps to ensure that there is a limited amount of formatting that can be applied to potentially malicious files and data. Major drawbacks of Subgraph, however, are that it utilizes the Tor Network so is still open to the same flaws, and it is also a permanent operating system meaning you can’t simply boot from a USB memory stick or DVD. In effect you will use Subgraph instead of your standard OS so may lose some of the functionality of this too.
While the Tor network is a widely used tool and does work, VPN providers like Hotspot Shield offer a strong alternative to it and still provide that high level of anonymity together with enhanced security and data protection services that are increasingly important to today’s savvy internet user.
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