Use the Tor network to hide your communications. Incidentally, this is particularily useful when certain file types have been blocked, such as torrent files. The following instructions are written for Windows XP and Ubuntu Linux users. Tips for other systems are welcome.
Edit: Be extremely careful when surfing over Tor. There are rogue Tor exit nodes that will attempt to steal your information (credit card number, password, etc.), so when using Tor you should enable and heed all of your browser's security warnings. When using Tor, only submit personal information from a secure page to a secure page. Remember that a page is not secure if your browser couldn't completely verify the security certificate. This is a very real threat. In summary, try to only use Tor for reading unless you're sure you know what you're doing.
- Perhaps your college, like mine, has begun to block any file downloads with the MIME-type
application/x-bittorrent. Maybe you're worried that the firewall at your workplace is filtering out any potentially controversial subject matter, like politics. Maybe you just don't want people snooping on your internet usage.
Use the Tor network to add some anonymity and privacy to your communications, and install Vidalia (optionally) if you want to see the route your Tor traffic is taking.
Install Tor and Privoxy for the basic functionality, and Vidalia if you want to have a convenient and informative interface for Tor. Windows and Mac users will want the full bundle. Ubuntu users can install the
privoxypackages, but will have to build Vidalia from source. Tips:
- You should see a the letter "P" in a green or blue circle appear in your Windows XP system tray (where the date & time appear) -- that's Privoxy, which Firefox will talk with directly. Leave it alone.
- You should see a red onion appear in the system tray as well -- that's Vidalia. Right-click and hit "Preferences", where you should specify that Tor be started when Vidalia is started. Also in the right-click menu are options to start and stop Tor -- you may have to explicitly start Tor immediately after the installation, but it should start automatically every time you start your computer afterwards.
Integrate Tor into Firefox by installing the TorButton extension This will enable you to easily toggle whether Firefox is using Tor. Tips:
- After restarting Firefox, right-click on the new status bar item and choose "icon" instead of "text" using the preferences item.
From now on, you can download or view files and web pages that are normally filtered by clicking on the onion icon in the Firefox status bar. When you are ready to stop using the secure connection, turn Tor usage back off by clicking the onion again, so that it shows a red X.