Using TOR

Discussion in 'privacy technology' started by twl845, Apr 13, 2015.

  1. twl845

    twl845 Registered Member

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    I have been reading about using TOR web browser, and want to ask users if you think it is advisable for an average user to try. I am using Firefox as my default browser now.
     
  2. mirimir

    mirimir Registered Member

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    Tor browser is the best option for new Tor users. But it's crucial to keep limitations in mind. The browser is setup to use Tor, but there's no protection against leaks caused by malware. That's because your direct Internet connection is still available. Also, you can't assume that other apps will use Tor, without configuration. And even then, you can't assume that they'll only use Tor. Another risk is that downloaded stuff may phone home, bypassing Tor, when opened or executed.

    Booting with the Tails LiveCD is more secure. Even more secure is running Whonix in VirtualBox. And even more secure than that is running Whonix in Qubes :)

    Also, if you want to hide Tor use from your ISP and friends, you can connect through a VPN service.
     
  3. Palancar

    Palancar Registered Member

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    Virtual Machines (which is what Mirimir was referring to) add tremendous security and are easy to deploy.
     
  4. Veeshush

    Veeshush Registered Member

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    Just remember, the Tor Browser itself is Firefox, but your traffic is run through the Tor network: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tor_(anonymity_network)

    My point is, most don't use Tor for 100% of all their internet activity because it doesn't come without risks or stuff simply not working (well, very savvy users might use Tor for everything). For 100% daily connections, like for shopping on Amazon or whatnot, you'd be better off with a VPN. See: https://torrentfreak.com/anonymous-vpn-service-provider-review-2015-150228/ (of course, most good VPNs aren't free or without issue either)

    It's a learning curve, but the more you use it the more you get used to it. You get a feel of how it all works and what habits to change. It's some interesting stuff if you have the time to learn. But I'd also recommend Tails https://tails.boum.org/
     
  5. Palancar

    Palancar Registered Member

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    This is a change of direction, but it is a TOR thread.

    Anyone else here having issues with TOR today? A couple of my TBB's are not loading the circuit. Don't know if something is going on. Right now I jumped back to multiple VPNs, which is OK for here but leaves me unconnected at some spots. Just wondering if I am the lone ranger, which would not be unusual.
     
  6. Palancar

    Palancar Registered Member

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    For some reason TOR is now sailing along and all my TBB's are completing circuits fine. Hmmmmmm?
     
  7. x942

    x942 Guest

    I was having issues this morning (Around 8:30 AM PST). It cleared up by noon though, so I am not sure what the issue was, I don't think it was on my end.
     
  8. mirimir

    mirimir Registered Member

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    Tor is a complicated beast.

    Maybe one of your entry guards went offline.
     
  9. Palancar

    Palancar Registered Member

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    Possible I guess, but I was referring to at least 5 independent TBB's! The various VPN's earlier in my chain were smokin fast all day so it wasn't them or my config. At least I don't think so! LOL
     
  10. mirimir

    mirimir Registered Member

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    OK, disturbance in the net ;)
     
  11. Balthazar

    Balthazar Registered Member

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    I am starting to use Whonix in Qubes and I've got a simple (and maybe stupid) question. When starting my whonix VM there are the bootstrap/torcheck/timesynch processes starting immediately. I don't want my ISP to know that I am using TOR so I use a VPN. I tunnel all my traffic. What I want to try out is tunneling only the whonix VM. I do this with other VMs already but not with a difficult setup of rules but with a client in each VM. It's working perfectly so far.

    In the whonix VM I wasn't able to install the client, although I downloaded all dependencies in the Workstation and Gateway templates. The dependencies are reported to be missing. But that's not the point. Starting the terminal and therefore starting aforementioned processes results in the "connected to TOR" message. Does this generate traffic already (visible to the ISP)? Connecting only the whonix VM to a VPN server would have the advantage to use other VMs with other VPN servers (or without). Do you get what I am trying to say/do and does that make sense to you?
     
  12. mirimir

    mirimir Registered Member

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    I'm not using Qubes. But as I recall, in Qubes there are Whonix gateway and workstation VMs, just as in VirtualBox. Qubes also has VPN client VMs. So you can just run a VPN client VM, and route the Whonix gateway VM through it.
     
  13. The Red Moon

    The Red Moon Registered Member

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    The exit nodes apparently had security issues although not sure if these have been addressed and fixed yet.
     
  14. krustytheclown2

    krustytheclown2 Registered Member

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    I'd just like to point out that Whonix within Qubes probably doesn't offer much more security than Whonix in Ubuntu/Debian since Xen and Virtualbox share way too much code for it to be a valid layering strategy. I haven't tried Qubes but I think that the Xen layer will prevent Virtualbox from being able to use hardware virtualization.

    My thoughts are to either sandbox Virtualbox with Firejail/Apparmor, or use those within Whonix for the browser, email client, etc. One further step would be to run Virtualbox within a Linux container type VM, like OpenVZ or LXC, which has a separate NAT from the host and should allow hardware virtualization to work within Whonix.
     
  15. mirimir

    mirimir Registered Member

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    Whonix in Qubes doesn't use VirtualBox. The Debian Whonix-Gateway VM has been massaged into a Qubes ProxyVM, and the Debian Whonix-Workstation VM has been massaged into a Qubes AppVM. See https://www.whonix.org/wiki/Qubes
     
  16. Balthazar

    Balthazar Registered Member

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    Thanks, I will try it this way. Probably the best approach in the first place.
     
  17. krustytheclown2

    krustytheclown2 Registered Member

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    I understand, it's just a Xen VM, but how is this any more secure than the default Whonix within Ubuntu? Does Qubes provide AppArmor profiles for everything by default or is it something else that I'm not getting?
     
  18. deBoetie

    deBoetie Registered Member

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    Well, not just a Xen VM. Joanna would be cross!

    http://theinvisiblethings.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/how-is-qubes-os-different-from.html

    "Qubes itself is much more than just the hypervisor. Qubes is everything that is needed to build a reasonably secure desktop OS on top of a baremetal hypervisor (or microkernel). ". There are also discussions of making the hypervisor swappable if that's a concern, not sure how far that's got.

    Essentially, it divides up services that you'd normally have running together in a monolithic and big (code lines) kernel (the host) so that they aren't available to the other services, as well as offering hardware virtualisation opportunities (VT-d), usb protection. I like the templated OS approach as it allows for management updates of the template, whilst having it effectively revert on boot.

    Yes, you might - with difficulty - attack Xen from Qubes, probably via an X-windows vulnerability. Even there, it would be struggling to get privileges to do what it needed.

    For sure, I'd be adding Firejail or AppArmor for Firefox in the circumstances - why not? - since the browser will almost certainly be the initial attack target?

    I'd also note that other approaches (grsecurity/SELinux) are hard for desktop OS.
     
  19. mirimir

    mirimir Registered Member

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    As deBoetie said, there's a lot more to Qubes than the Xen hypervisor. As I understand it, they used the Xen hypervisor because it's simple. It has a small attack surface, and they could readily audit for vulnerabilities. The Qubes team is obviously smaller and less resourceful than, for example, the Equation group. But I'm not aware of anyone who has a better chance against them and their ilk than the Qubes team does. Except maybe China ;)
     
  20. krustytheclown2

    krustytheclown2 Registered Member

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    @deBoetie @mirimir

    I've read that link, what you've said, and some more on the topic but I still don't see what precisely Qubes does that the default Whonix set-up doesn't do. You mentioned VT-d and usb protection and so many other things but I don't see how any of that is relevant. I know that the Qubes developers have their heart in the right place, but I'm missing what they're doing that anyone with a few hours can't do on straight Ubuntu.

    Let's take the worst case scenario. The Whonix Workstation running within both Ubuntu/Vbox and Qubes/Xen (or whatever it is that I'm missing) is identical (right?), and thus it is equally likely to be compromised. Now if said Whonix Workstation is compromised, the worst case scenario adversary will have a zero day vuln to break directly through the hypervisor to the host (without using something notoriously vulnerable like shared folders, graphics acceleration, guest additions, etc.). Xen and Virtualbox share much of the same code base and so one zero-day will likely affect both, as evidenced by Venom recently. How will Qubes handle this differently in order to prevent the breakout, in contrast to Ubuntu + MAC/Firejail?

    Maybe I'm being dull, but there is nothing specific mentioned that I've seen. Other features Qubes offers may very well be fantastic but that shouldn't matter in this particular case.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2015
  21. deBoetie

    deBoetie Registered Member

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    @krustytheclown2 - not dull at all, and I don't think there is really a point of principle here. One could emulate what Qubes does out of the box (and I sort-off attempt to do part of that, albeit with Vmware), by running a set of VMs which communicated (somehow - Qubes does this) with each other, one for doing firewall, one for VM management (equivalent of the VB management), one running trusted browsers for a particular purpose, one for untrusted and reverting and so on. Not very practical. Qubues has this "domain" structure built-in in a scalable and build up and down way, based on the update-able templates. Although this is a practical point, you'd be hard-pressed to do the same thing reliably on a normal hypervisor.

    Even granted that you used your host for nothing else than running VB, and you eschewed guest additions, the amount of code is larger than for Xen. The communication between the VMs in Qubes is very specific, and little code. In each environment/address space, you have the minimum installed and running.

    Finally, you are able to partition in Qubes, at the hardware level with VT-d, network and usb cards, which allows direct plumbing to the right VM without any other software involvement. By contrast, when you plug in a USB stick (which you will) in VB, it connects to the host, and then to the VB software in order to be emulated in the VM.

    So, that's my understanding of what Qubes is doing (at least partially) - like I say, not a matter of principle, but more that it's very practical and highlights the domains, therefore can be used in a liveable way.
     
  22. mirimir

    mirimir Registered Member

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    Qubes arguably isolates VMs better from the host than VirtualBox does. Or so the developers claim. If it doesn't, I expect that I would have heard of that by now. But what do I know?
     
  23. Socio

    Socio Registered Member

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    There is also this one which from all appearances is Chrome based hybrid, it is called Globus and uses a combination of VPN and Tor;

    https://www.vpnbrowser.org/?lang=en
     
  24. krustytheclown2

    krustytheclown2 Registered Member

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    That's adware/malware, do not even try it outside of a VM
     
  25. Socio

    Socio Registered Member

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    The site or the browser?
     
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