We want to enforce good security by default for our users. That is why it is a fundamental assumption of Tails to force all outgoing traffic to anonymity networks such as Tor.
Over the years Tor has become a big network with a lot of capacity and a good speed.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) could be faster than Tor but they are not anonymity networks, because the administrators of the VPN can know both where you are connecting from and where you are connecting to and break your anonymity. Tor provides anonymity by making it impossible for a single point in the network to know both the origin and the destination of a connection.
When using a VPN, an attacker can also break your anonymity by monitoring the incoming and outgoing connections of the few servers of the VPN. On the other hand, the Tor network is formed by over 5000 relays run worldwide by volunteers.
Tor is the anonymity network with the largest user base. More than 700 000 users connected to Tor daily in 2013. Being adopted by such a large audience proves its maturity, stability, and usability.
Tor is being used equally by journalists, law enforcement, governments, human rights activists, business leaders, militaries, abuse victims and average citizens concerned about online privacy. This diversity actually provides stronger anonymity to everyone as it makes it more difficult to identify or target a specific profile of Tor user. Anonymity loves company.
Technical merits and recognition
Tor has partnered with leading research institutions, and has been subjected to intensive academic research. It is the anonymity network which benefits from the most auditing and peer review.
Tor has been received awards by institutions such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Free Software Foundation to name a few.
An extract of a Top Secret appraisal by the NSA characterized Tor as “the King of high secure, low latency Internet anonymity” with “no contenders for the throne in waiting”.
Relationship between Tor and Tails
- The Tor software is made by The Tor Project.
- The Tor network is run by a worldwide community of volunteers.
- Tails is a separate project made by a different group of people.
Tails is a complete operating system which uses Tor as its default networking application. The Tor Project recommends the usage of Tails for the use cases that are not covered by its own projects (for example the Tor Browser).
But many people use Tor outside of Tails, and many people use Tails to do other things than accessing the Internet through Tor, for example to work offline on sensitive document.