In this article we will compare and contrast two of the most powerful tools – preferred by many to ensure their security and privacy. Nowadays, there are different issues we face with respect to online privacy. Vigilant agencies along with other unwanted eyes are watching every move we make online. However, with the passage of time different methods were explored to cope with these concerns; Tor and VPN in this regard serve as optimal remedies.
In addition, Tor and VPN also safeguard the security by protecting our confidential or personal information from unauthorized access. Both of these tools that ensure our privacy and security represent certain advantages and some discrepancies. Furthermore, the acceptability of these tools solely depends upon priority of the user. However, people often confuse Tor as a replacement for a VPN – which is practically wrong.
We cannot blame these naïve users as not everyone in this digital universe belongs to the tech-savvy community. Therefore, we are here today to compare and contrast different features of Tor and VPN. We will first describe these two technologies and how they may benefit the users. We will also enlist the discrepancies and flaws representing each of these technologies in order to enlighten all necessary aspects of Tor and VPN to facilitate our readers’ choice.
Tor vs. VPN
Tor and its Process
One of the most significant advantages associated with Tor is that it doesn’t represent any price to be paid for the service. Yes! Tor is a FREE application that ensures privacy and security of its users. Tor promotes user anonymity by creating a sophisticated network that tunnels all your data.
By activating Tor on your device, your Internet suffering is liberated. Tor promotes your anonymity and allows you to access diversified content by breaking through geo-restrictions. Tor creates a sophisticated network comprising several complex structured nodes. Whenever you wish to access any website or any other content for that matter, Tor routes your request through different nodes comprising a circuit.
Each node in the circuit represents a volunteer. When a device sends any request, it is transferred from one node to another. And the best part is each node being unaware of signal’s path. The signal transfers randomly from one node to another.
The node on which the signal is currently located is familiar only with the preceding node (sender) and following node (receiver) not others comprising the circuit. In addition, the structural path through which the signals are sent and received is refreshed after every 10 minutes.
This means that after every 10 minutes, the previous trend adopted by the signal to travel among the nodes vanishes and a new random pathway is created. This structural operation of the Tor is the most significant advantage which ensures your anonymity and preserves your security.
The random transference of signal from one node to another is something that prevents hackers from infiltrating the security. Furthermore, a path reboot is a precautionary method – it will counter the threat if someone somehow finds a way to track the signal transference path.
VPN and its Process
Now let us enlighten some aspects of the virtual private network (VPN). VPN is a sophisticated technology allowing its users to send, receive and share data over public network. A VPN requires a public network like Internet to formulate a secure connection for users to connect. The security of this network is ensured by using different protocols.
A VPN works just like a Wide Area Network (WAN). A virtual private network can be created using different protocols such as PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol), L2TP (Layer-to-Tunneling Protocol), SSTP (Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol) and more. These protocols are selected and used by individuals as per their preferences.
PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) is the most frequently used protocol to establish a virtual private network. A VPN created through this protocol is secure and ensures user privacy. A VPN created by using Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol safely tunnels all your traffic to the server of your choice.
One of the most significant benefits associated with a network formed by using PPTP is its security. Every bit of the data transmitted through the network is secured via 128bit encryption. This is the backup used by a VPN network. In case a hacker infiltrates the network in order to access the data; he will be slapped away with encrypted form of it.
There is another protocol that surpasses the security and privacy promised by PPTP; this protocol is called Layer-to-Tunneling Protocol. A VPN formed through Layer-to-Tunneling Protocol is more secure as compared to the one formed using PPTP. L2TP doesn’t have any encryption of its own to offer; hence, it is affiliated with IPSec and provides up to 256bit encryption.
This level of encryption takes your security to the whole new level. That’s not all. There are many other protocols that can add more layers to your security such as SSTP, SSL and SSH etc. These protocols make it impossible for even a pro hacker to infiltrate your security or crack the encrypted data.
With a VPN, you can connect to different servers geographically dispersed across the globe. By connecting to a server in a specific locality, you can surpass its geo-restriction and access any content that you prefer. You can browse, stream online and even share files with your peers.
There are many countries that impose certain restrictions on their content. As a matter of fact, countries like China have blocked almost everything; from social networks to streaming sites, everything is inaccessible in China. Hence, it can be said that a VPN is an optimal remedy to cope with security issues along with censorship concerns.
Furthermore, a VPN protects you from identity thieves and other vigilant agencies like the NSA GCHQ. Every time you connect a VPN, your real IP is masked. If you purchase a VPN from any service provider, it will allow you to access different servers. These servers represent different countries. Suppose you are currently in the US and you connect your VPN on a UK server. After the connection is established successfully, your real IP will be masked as the VPN allots you a random IP from UK.
This is the most important feature to consider while considering VPN as an alternative. This protects your identity making you invincible for any cyber-goon struggling to steal your identity. Once your IP is masked, you are liberated to access anything online; no one will be able to trace your location through your IP since it is not real. Hence, it can be said that the privacy and security features associated with a VPN are of greater significance as compared to Tor.
Advantages of Tor
- Tor does not accompany any price that user needs to pay in exchange – it is a FREE application.
- Tor promises security by tunneling your traffic through a sophisticated network comprising divergent nodes.
- Tor keeps you safe from hackers as the circuit or network formulated is tough to infiltrate.
- Tor hides your IP – making you untraceable online.
Disadvantages of Tor
- Tor’s origin represents the efforts of US Naval Forces; therefore, it might be possible that all the traffic passing through Tor’s network is monitored by the NSA and Tor may only be just another NSA’s backdoor.
- Through Tor you can bypass geo-restrictions; however, not all barriers can be crossed. There are some ISPs and firewall structures such as the Great Firewall of China that block requests sent via Tor relays.
- Tor decelerates your Internet surfing experience because your requests transfer through a sophisticated path of nodes in a random pattern which causes sluggishness of the process.
- Tor’s circuit comprises different nodes where anyone volunteering an exit-node can access all your data and even monitor your online activities. It can be a hacker or the NSA itself.
Advantages of a VPN
- By using a VPN, you can bypass any geo-restriction and access any content you desire.
- Your identity is protected with a VPN as it masks your real IP and makes your completely anonymous.
- While being connected through a VPN, no one can trace your location through your IP address.
- A VPN tunnels your data through a secure network – making it impossible for hackers or even the NSA to infiltrate your security.
- A VPN is formulated through different protocols such as PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, SSL and SSH etc. The encryption supported by these protocols protects serves as a backup plan. If someone somehow was able to penetrate into your security, he will get nothing but encrypted data only.
Disadvantages of a VPN
- A VPN comes with a price to pay. You may be offered a FREE trial; however, you will have to purchase the service eventually from the service provider if you wish to continue.
- A VPN deteriorates your Internet speed to a certain portion. Hence, your surfing experience can be a bit lethargic if you don’t have a high speed Internet connection.
- Security and Internet speed are inversely proportional while using a VPN. A VPN encrypts your data by using different protocols. The most secure protocol selected while connecting a VPN can cost you significant decline with respect to the Internet speed.
Tor and VPN are the tools we can use to cope with issues like censorship and geo-restrictions. However, after detailed analysis of different aspects and features associated with these two technologies, it can be said that a VPN wins the race when it comes to privacy and security. There are crucial vulnerabilities associated with Tor; in addition, there are certain restrictions that Tor can’t bypass.
A VPN on the other hand can ensure maximum security and bypass almost every geo-restriction and censorship barrier. Tor is a FREE application which can be considered as Tor’s most lucrative feature; however, I don’t think anyone would like to compromise on his/her privacy and security for a few bucks.
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