Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are great tools to provide extra security and make you more anonymous when browsing the Internet. Tor (The Onion Network) is also a great way to have more anonymity when browsing. If you’re not familiar with Tor, it’s open-source software that allows users to browse the Internet and use various services anonymously. Tor allows users access to the so-called dark web (not to be confused with the deep web), web content that can only be accessed using specific software. It conceals the location and prevents anyone from conducting network surveillance and/or traffic analysis. Tor does not provide complete anonymity but rather makes it that much more difficult to trace data back to the user. Should you be using Onion Over VPN

Originally, Tor was created to help users protect their privacy. It’s a particularly important tool for human rights and other activists, journalists, the military, government critics in authoritarian countries, etc., essentially anyone whose safety may be threatened if their internet activity was connected to them. However, it’s also used by cybercriminals to prevent law enforcement from being able to identify them. The Tor browser is often used to access various illegal darknet markets that sell drugs, weapons, fake documents, etc. One of the largest illegal marketplaces Silk Road was only accessible on the dark web.

What is Onion Over VPN?

There are many benefits to using a VPN or Tor but in some cases, it may not be enough. Some users may need additional security and privacy, which is where Onion over VPN comes in. Onion over VPN is essentially combining a VPN and Tor. Essentially, the way Onion Over VPN works is your traffic first passes through a VPN server and then through the Onion network before reaching the Internet. When you connect to a VPN, your traffic is encrypted and your IP address is hidden because the VPN replaces your IP address with the address of the VPN server you’re connected to. Your traffic then gets routed through the Onion Network, aka at least three nodes, the entry node, the middle node, and the exit node. Only then does it reach the Internet.

Normally, you would only be able to connect to the Onion Network with the Tor browser, which is freely available for download. However, if you use the Onion Over VPN feature, you would be able to connect to it using any regular browser. Using a VPN to access the Onion network would prevent even your Internet service provider (ISP) from knowing that you’re accessing it. If you were to use only the Tor browser, your ISP would know, even if it couldn’t see your traffic. Accessing the Onion Network or using the Tor browser is not illegal but there are reasons why certain people would want to conceal the fact that they’re using Tor. The fact that it’s not necessary to use the Tor browser to access the Onion Network is one of the reasons why using Onion Over VPN would be more beneficial and convenient. For some users, it’s more convenient to just hit “Connect” on their VPN and then use their regular browser.

Generally, Onion Over VPN is a feature that only those in desperate need to protect their privacy would use. Users who just want to browse the Internet more privately have little use for it as they can just use a regular VPN. Some VPN providers that have Onion Over VPN are NordVPN and ProtonVPN. They are both paid virtual private networks and work great as regular VPNs as well.

Pros and cons of using Onion Over VPN

Some benefits to using Onion Over VPN are:

  • Your ISP cannot see that you’re using Tor;
  • Your browsing is concealed from both your ISP and your VPN provider;
  • You can access the dark web;
  • Your privacy is protected when browsing the “regular” Internet;
  • Your IP address is concealed from the Tor entry node.

Cons associated with Onion Over VPN are:

  • Onion Over VPN usually slows down the connection;
  • Your VPN knows you’re using Tor.

Leave a Reply