Caught some noise about Tor today on Slashdot. Interesting stuff.
Tor does two things for you — first, it routes your internet traffic around a bunch of anonymizing servers before it reaches your destination — yet does it fast enough that you don’t notice a delay to speak of.
Second, it gives you access to content which is hosted within the tor anonymous network itself, so-called “hidden services.” Anything that can go through a SOCKS proxy can be a hidden service. That includes web sites, telnet, irc, whatever. If you run a Tor server, you can offer content to the net without revealing the IP address that content lives on — and not offer it to anyone who’s not on the Tor service.
So it’s a combination of a distributed anonymizing proxy network, like Peekabooty, and an anonymous network on which you can offer content, like Freenet but not completely, unusably sucktastic.
This stuff actually works. I’m accessing a hidden service wiki right now that discusses some of the fine points of Tor-fu. It seems a little slow right now, but considering the service just got slashdotted, not bad.
But here’s the other nifty bit. They recommend using Privoxy to provide better web anonymity, because Moz-based browsers leak identifying information through a socks proxy like Tor. So I installed Privoxy.
And, man, has Privoxy come far. There’s a spiffy little OS X installer, there is a built in web page where you can configure your own privoxy through your web browser, there are bookmarklets to turn it off and on, its ad blocking is great… This Tor thing, well, nice and all, but Privoxy is cool upon cool upon cool. Highly recommended. Not just for total geeks anymore.