3

I am a college student and I am getting free wifi for using the "Hostel campus" facility. To access the Internet, I have to put a proxy IP address to my browser.

I have heard that they can see all the sites I visit, so if I want to visit a porn site, it could definitely get me into trouble. I tried using VPN, but it won't get installed.

I would like to know if browsing with Tor would protect me from the administrator checking my browsing logs?

3

I'm not saying either answer is WRONG, but here's the answer to your question: Yes, Tor ought to protect you from an admin looking at your traffic. If that's all you wanted to know, stop reading now.

HOW TOR DOES THIS: Tor employs a principle called onion routing to ensure privacy (hence its name, The Onion Router). Here's how it works: You hook up to the Tor network. Then Tor works out a path THROUGH ITS OWN NETWORK OF COMPUTERS WITH TOR for your data to take. Here's a graphic showing a prospective path: Tor path

Now you perform something called a Diffie-Helfman key exchange (SE community, please correct me if I'm wrong about this part) with all computers along the path individually. In a 3 computer path you now have worked out f(x) (with the first computer), g(x) (with the second computer), and h(x) (with the third computer). Let's call your request for information m. You work out f(g(h(m))) and send it to computer 1. Computer one, who only knows f^-1(x) (meaning f-inverse of x), performs that operation, and sends the result along to computer 2. Computer 2 only knows g^-1(x), so it performs that and... well you get it. After computer 3 has undone the third encryption, it takes a look at your request and passes it on to the pornography server you were trying to contact, named Bob. Bob sends computer 3 your erotic Animorphs fanfiction (sorry, couldn't resist). Computer 3 now sends your fanfic along the same chain of communication that we already looked at.

This system is effective for several reasons, but I'll just say this: Due to the properties of the Diffie-Helfman exchange (there's another answer on here that explains it just beautifully) your sysadmin will never see the keys for f(), g(), or h(). All he will see is that you're sending an encrypted packet to an IP that doesn't belong to any website at all. Will he be able to determine that you're using Tor? Almost definitely. Can he do anything about it? Well, he can stop you from accessing the internet (in fact, he might decide to), but he can't see your internet traffic, which means that you can keep your erotica to yourself. I would warn you that Tor includes an add-on called NoScript that stops you from watching video, so I hope your fanfic is in text form.

  • 1
    TOR doesn't do anything to protect you against spyware on the machine, which is common practice of corporate America and even many educational institutions. – Jeff-Inventor ChromeOS Jul 30 '14 at 3:10
  • @Jeff-InventorChromeOS First of all, that wasn't the question, but second of all, anyone with proprietary access to your machine can do whatever they want with it by definition. Why would you assume anything on it is private or could be trusted? – KnightOfNi Aug 8 '14 at 5:50
  • 1
    Exactly. That's my point. Since the question is about how to achieve anonymity, it's important to recognize that you basically can't in many circumstances. – Jeff-Inventor ChromeOS Aug 9 '14 at 4:12
  • 1
    @Jeff-InventorChromeOS I assumed that the OP had his own computer, as he's installing software on it. If he does, it would be illegal for his school to install spyware on there without his consent. Since he's asking about Tor because his VPN "won't get installed," I don't think a rant about corruption in our corporate and educational systems is quite... appropriate. However, if you deem it important to be aware of, you can always post it as an answer yourself... – KnightOfNi Aug 9 '14 at 5:37
  • This is a good answer. To add a bit: many Tor nodes are known as such and, depending on the proxy implementation present, might be blocked so it's also possible that OP won't even be able to use Tor smoothly. And as @KnightOfNi pointed out in the last paragraph - if she can get in trouble for browsing porn sites I would assume that the same treatment would be given for anonymity attempts. – skooog Jul 21 '17 at 11:35
0

For complete anonymity from the people administrating your campus network, you need to VPN out of that network into some VPN service provider's network.

Proxies and VPNs have important differences. https://www.bestvpn.com/blog/4085/proxies-vs-vpn-whats-the-difference/

The service you use to do so needs to be trusted however, because they are now administrating the network you have VPN'd into.

You trade your campus' admins for some VPN provider's admins.

  • I doubt VPN will be allowed if they enforce proxying on everything. – Eugene Mayevski 'Callback Jun 28 '14 at 19:09
  • Well that'd be interesting, to access a lot of corporate resources you MUST be VPN'd in to access. Such a strict policy would interfere with college professionals' productivity, and to what benefit idk. – Andrew Hoffman Jun 28 '14 at 19:16
  • Eugene, you can configure a VPN to connect on any port. – Overmind Jul 21 '17 at 11:55

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.