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How does Tor browser help to bypass blockages?
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How does Tor browser help to bypass blockages?

The Tor network, which can be accessed through the Tor browser, is a system of servers that support "onion routing" - the technology of anonymous information exchange through the computer network. Tor allows the user to remain incognito on the Internet and protects its traffic from analysis.

There are four types of nodes (servers, relays) on the Tor network: Input (Guard), Middle, Output (Exit) and Bridges.

Input and output nodes, as their name implies, are the start and end points in the route of user traffic through the Tor network.

Bridge nodes do this by "cross-posting" traffic to one another before it leaves the network. This is done to make the source of the traffic as invisible as possible to those who want to trace it.

The IP addresses of incoming nodes are public information and can be downloaded from one of nine public directories. This feature has allowed authorities in countries that are unfriendly to Tor to shut down their citizens' access to the tool by simply blocking the IP directories.

How Tor helps bypass blockades

In order to solve the problem of censorship, bridges were invented - entry nodes whose addresses are not publicly available. It is possible to get the address of the bridge by special request, which simultaneously complicates the life of the user and blocking access to Tor to the authorities.

Some countries, such as China and Iran, have learned to combat this type of censorship protection, but the Tor Project has responded with so-called transports, which make it harder to block nodes. For example, the Tor Browser has had support for the obfs4 transport, which obfuscates (obfuscates) traffic for a relatively long time.

A new transport that has support in Tor Browser 10 is called Snowflake. The technology relies on the volunteer proxy network of the same name, which has 8,000 machines, according to the Tor Project. Interaction with the proxy is done using a P2P WebRTC protocol. Domain Fronting" technique is used when initializing connection and selecting "pair" from Snowflake proxy.

A curious feature of the network, which allows it to recruit members very quickly, is the ease of setting up the server. In fact, no setup is required - a volunteer only needs to install an add-on for Chrome or Firefox, which acts as a proxy server at times when the browser is running.

This creates a constantly changing network of proxy servers which, due to its nature, is not easy to block - the IP addresses of the volunteers will change regularly, some of them will use different access points, including public ones. It is only important that Snowflake proxy owners stay on the territory of countries with low levels of Internet censorship, otherwise their contribution to the cause will be next to nil.

Authorities are interested in Tor

Tor is of interest to the law enforcement agencies of some countries. It can be used to access sites with illegal information and make illegal transactions on the darknet, while hiding your identity. Therefore, the desire of the authorities to take control of the "onion" segment of the Internet should not be surprising.

In 2014. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) paid $1 million to researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in the United States to help infiltrate Tor to de-anonymize its users.

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