How To Setup and Use Tor On Android
Tor (The Onion Router) is maintained by volunteers around the globe with one primary focus in mind – privacy security. The purpose of Tor is to offer a safer, more secure environment than is typically offered on the standard web, and it does this by using multi-layer encryption.
The Onion Router uses the Firefox search engine as default, and provides an alternative to consumers who want to shop online without worrying that a hacker is going to steal their private information or personal identity. At a time where online security is even more necessary, more and more people are becoming Tor users.
Accessing the deep web is actually quite simple from a personal computer. All you really need to do is install the Tor browser or a plugin. But what about from an Android device? You could decide to download any one of the numerous Tor applications that the Google Play Store offers. Some of them also come with offers of added VPN security.
However, to get the full Tor experience, you’ll need to download and install three separate apps. You’ll also need to root and jailbreak your phone to enable third-party app installation.
How To Set Up & Use Tor On Android
Before we get into the apps necessary for Tor, we must first make sure that your Android device is rooted.
If you’re familiar with Windows Explorer, think of the root as the C: of your device. Android doesn’t allow you to access this by default to keep users from accidentally deleting important files. However, to access Tor through the device, you’re going to need to get it done.
Rooting Your Device
How you go about rooting your device will be determined by which device model you own. Due to there being multiple device models, there isn’t a universal method for rooting them all. Your best bet is to do a bit of online research on the model of your phone and how to go about rooting it.
Jailbreaking is an odd term to use, as it makes it seem like you’re doing something illegal. This is not the case. All you’re doing is enabling your device to be able to install apps from sources not found in the Google Play Store.
The process is a simple one, but will depend on the version of operating system your Android device is running.
For Android Nougat & earlier:
The wording may vary from version to version but the basic workflow remains the same.
- Head into the Settings of your phone and tap to open Security.
- Toggle on the Unknown Sources option and verify the changes with OK.
For Android Oreo & later:
Mucking around in Settings is no longer necessary. Anything not downloaded through the Google Play Store will prompt you with a confirmation dialog. Click to enable installation from an Unknown Source and you’re good to go.
The OrWall App
OrWall forces all of your Android device’s apps to use the Tor network whenever data is transmitted.
- Click the link to download the APK file, and install it.
- Once installed, run through the setup, and reboot your device.
- When the device is back up, you can launch OrWall and manually decide which of your apps will have their data transmitted through Tor.
The OrBot App
OrBot is the bridge from your device into the Tor network. The app can also be found in the Google Play Store but the link provided comes directly from the developer’s site.
After the app has been downloaded and installed, complete the setup wizard. This should only ever occur when setting OrBot up for the first time. All subsequent activations can be done from the Power button located in the app.
The OrFox App
OrFox is the companion browser created for Orbot, also developed by the great folks over at the Guardian Project. Where OrBot provides the Tor connection, OrFox is the vehicle you’ll use while traveling the information superhighway. In other words, OrFox is your Tor browser and, if you couldn’t already guess, the browser used is Firefox.
The app has no required setup prior to use other than a reliance on OrBot. You simply launch it and await the “success” prompt letting you know you’re connected. OrFox does provide the bonus of getting around most online restrictions. So if you’re currently in your work office unable to access certain sites, you and OrFox may just become the best of friends.
OrWeb, which is a basic version of the Tor Browser for Android, was made obsolete with the release of OrFox. OrWeb comes as the default browser with the download and installation of OrBot but contains many limitations. Ensure that you acquire OrFox for use with OrBot so as not to be limited in your Tor browsing capabilities.