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I have just gotten a new phone and would like to protect my privacy better than I have in the past. I have read about rooting and then installing OrWall, OrBot, and OrWeb. If I understood correctly, OrWall, which is the only app requiring rooting, forces all apps into Tor.

I would love to avoid rooting the phone, and therefore I am considering VPN. If there is no logic in that statement, it's because of my lack of knowledge.

My question is: Would using VPN make everything, including app usage, anonymous, or just browsing?

Also, would I achieve a higher privacy level if I root my phone and then use VPN?

Edit: I have a HTC ONE M8s

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On the subject of what traffic is being tunneled, I cana answer with the following: If you connect your Android Phone, Tablet, or otherwise Android Powered Device to a VPN (either through settings or a 3rd party app) all traffic should be sent through the VPN (as long as the apps are complaint with the Android System API, apps utilizing 'root' access generally are not and VPN compliance may vary).

On the subject of anonymity however: It depends on your provider and your definition of anonymity. If you are simply pirating movies then your standard VPN should be fine however if your per-say hacking a large cooperation or leaking government documents then a VPN isn't a good idea and you would need something stronger like Tor.

Rooting your phone can have multiple effects and depends on how you manage it. First rooting your phone essentially runs an exploit to grant you more permissions on your phone than you previously had and while it can be a fun project and give you extra features you give up the previous security and YOU ALONE are responsible for the security of the 'su' binary. Rooting your phone will allow you to install deeper security features but requires you to have more technical knowledge to avoid these new privileges from being abused by a rouge app.

An idea you expressed would be rooting and then installing the Orbot, Orweb, and Orwall Suite. That would be a great idea for anonymity. The only thing you would need to make sure of is to secure your new privileges.

Good luck with whatever decision you make. But whatever choice you make should route all traffic through the VPN, Proxy, or Tor not just a single app. Otherwise your asking for data leaks.

  • Thank you very much for the explanation! I appreciate it. Would I know somehow when leaks are happening? I would rather have the apps not work if they leak than having working, but leaking apps. Is there a way to force all traffic through the VPN tunnel? – Akitirija Jan 1 '16 at 0:28
  • Edit: I think what I am looking for is a "kill switch". – Akitirija Jan 1 '16 at 0:47
  • @Akitirija The Android VPN API should force all complaint apps to use the VPN. If your paranoid then you could root your phone and use iptables and force traffic through the VPN. That's only as secure as iptables binary. – Nathaniel Suchy Jan 1 '16 at 1:00
  • @Akitirija No problem :) – Nathaniel Suchy Jan 4 '16 at 20:44
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The Or apps use the Tor network, which is different to a 'normal' VPN.
You don't need to root your phone to use a VPN. Check out VPN providers such as Anonymous VPN or Express VPN.
Yes, when connected to a VPN all of your data is transmitted through the VPN connection. In regards to anonymity, it's best to do some research on VPN providers before choosing one. Many VPN providers keep logs and will provide these logs to enforcement agencies if requested.
Rooting your phone alone will not offer a higher level of privacy.

  • All traffic goes through the VPN? – schroeder Dec 29 '15 at 23:43

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