Boy, and you thought the dark web was complicated! I mean, just look at it:
I’ve said in earlier posts that it seems the standard Tor browser is designed for general use (by the average internet user). Other networks, like Freenet and I2P, may require slightly more knowledge of networking (depending on how deep you want to dig).
So, along comes AdvOR (Advanced Onion Router), a free portable Tor proxy server for those who essentially got bored with the Tor Browser and wanted a bit more configuration ability. It was actually released in 2014, so I confess I’m a little late to the game; nevertheless, I’m getting caught up.
(I bet ya boi Takedownman couldn’t figure out how to use this one, though. Har har har!)
The interface is exactly like that; it looks pretty, doesn’t it? (Well, maybe if you’re really fond of gray.) In essence, it’s a portable client for the Tor network, and is intended to be a replacement for the Tor+Vidalia+Privoxy bundle (Vidalia is no longer available). AdvOR can be downloaded at this link: https://sourceforge.net/projects/advtor/
To connect to the OR network, just click the “Connect” button there. As on the standard Tor browser, you can select a new identity (a three-hop circuit over which your traffic travels through the network). Click the “New identity” button at the bottom to accomplish this.
A window will pop up that says “Select an Exit Node,” through which you can either pick a specific exit node or have the program randomly select one for you:
Don’t you wish it were that easy to create a new identity in the real world?
But I digress. Essentially, the “identity” that’s showing is that of another relay in the network.
This works very similarly to the same function on the standard Tor browser (look familiar?)
AdvOR also gives you the ability to set up your proxy port or proxy address, and even run intercept programs. Plus, you can create a custom list of banned IP addresses, HTTP headers, bandwidth limitations, and other options (that aren’t easily available on the Tor browser).
Another cool feature is the ability to bypass ISP filtering. In other words, if you think that your ISP is blocking access to Tor, then you can use bridge relays. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of bridge relays (a.k.a. “bridges”), they’re Tor relays that aren’t listed in the main directory. For more information, see Tor Project: Bridges.
This, too, can be done on the basic Tor browser, but AdvOR makes it much simpler; all of the options are in one place.
As you can see above, you also have the option of using an NTLM proxy for network requests, as well as the other options above. For example, if you select “Use encrypted directory connections,” you’re metaphorically opening a “hole” in your firewall so that incoming connections can reach the ports you’ve configured.
You also have the option of specifying a proxy for TLS (SSL) (i.e. Transport Layer Security/Secure Socket Layer) connections – oh wait, does that say “connectinos”? OK, I’ve managed to get this far in the post with only one joke, but:
Can I have some of that beer, Most Interesting Man in the World? I think I need it to finish this post.
AdvOR also gives you a number of options when it comes to building circuits in the Tor network (which can also be accomplished through the browser, but you have less control over it).
Through the “circuit build” menu, you can “teach” AdvOR to learn timeouts in the circuit building process, or specify when to time out the circuit building operation (an option which, as far I know, you can’t configure on the standard Tor browser.) You can also specify how long the network should consider building a new circuit.
Beyond that, you have the option of indicating routers or nodes in the network (listed by nicknames or hashes) that, for whatever reason, you think may have malicious intent, or other sorts of problems, and banning them:
There are other aspects of the program I haven’t really explored yet, but on the whole, it seems great! Essentially, I love the amount of options AdvOR gives you, particularly if you’re even further concerned about privacy, or if the network itself seems to be having problems. (I think of it like the stick shift version of Tor…)
Granted, no piece of software is perfect, and like any other “anonymity network,” this can still be cracked. But it has its advantages, including stronger security and the ability to manually change parts of the routing process.
Plus, it even seems to “learn” over time what circuits and nodes to use (although this may be somewhat of an illusion – it’s not a Terminator, after all).
Well, OK – maybe it will be one day. Scary thought!