#Security Your Internet

#Security Your Internet

5 Best VPNs for the dark web and darknet for safe, private access

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 08:02 AM PST

Best VPNs for the dark web

The dark web can only be accessed through an anonymity network like Tor. Tor encrypts data sent to and from your device, hiding the contents of your internet traffic. But your internet service provider and government agencies can still see that you’re using Tor. Even though specific online activity is anonymized, Tor’s reputation as a criminal tool means simply connecting to the Tor network might be enough to raise eyebrows and draw unwanted attention. Some countries block Tor altogether.

If you want to hide the fact that you’re using Tor from your internet service provider and other third parties, we recommend using a VPN. Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN encrypts all of a device’s internet traffic and routes it through a middleman server in a location of your choosing. The VPN hides Tor traffic inside the encrypted tunnel, so no one but you and the VPN provider can see you’re using Tor.

If you don’t want to read the full article, here are the best VPNs for the dark web:

  1. ExpressVPN – Secure and fast. Has a .onion site. Accepts bitcoin.
  2. NordVPN – Zero logs, tons of servers, and strong security.
  3. PrivateVPN – Fast, easy, and comes with modifiable OpenVPN files.
  4. CyberGhost – Very secure, no logs, and fast.
  5. IPVanish – No logging, fast, and great security features.

How to use a VPN with Tor and access the dark web

There are many ways to connect to Tor, but for brevity’s sake we’ll assume you’re using the Tor browser:

  1. Sign up for and install a VPN. Our top recommendation is ExpressVPN.
  2. Select a server location and connect to the VPN. Wait for the connection to be established.
  3. Open the Tor Browser
  4. Surf the dark web!

Using this simple setup, your internet traffic is encrypted twice: first by Tor, then by the VPN. It then goes to the VPN server, where the VPN’s layer of encryption is removed, before going on to a Tor entry node. Your ISP only sees encrypted traffic going to a server and cannot detect that you are using Tor or connecting to Tor entry nodes.

Best VPNs for the dark web

The downside is that the VPN provider can see that you’re using Tor, even though your ISP can’t. With that in mind, you’ll need a VPN provider you can trust. We chose the best VPNs for the darknet based on the following criteria:

  • No logs containing identifying information
  • Strong encryption and leak protection
  • Fast and reliable speeds
  • Special features for Tor users
  • Anonymous payment options

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN unrestricted access worldwide

ExpressVPN doesn’t log your real IP address nor any contents of the internet traffic that passes through its servers. It boasts strong encryption and the most robust leak protection we’ve seen on any VPN, ensuring your data never escapes the secure tunnel. Speeds are consistently fast, and 24/7 live chat support is at your disposal if you run into any issues. ExpressVPN accepts bitcoin as payment and even hosts a mirror site on the dark web that can only be accessed via Tor, so you can sign up with complete anonymity.

Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, and certain wifi routers.


  • No identifying logs
  • Excellent security
  • Fast and stable
  • Accepts bitcoin
  • Has a .onion site


  • Slightly more expensive

BEST FOR THE DARK WEB:ExpressVPN is our top choice It works on a wide array of devices and allows for anonymous payment, plus a 30-day risk-free guarantee.

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

2. NordVPN

NordVPN homepage.

NordVPN is a veteran VPN provider that stores zero logs about its users and their online activities. Among its huge global server network is a Tor over VPN option, which automatically routes your traffic through the Tor network after it leaves the VPN tunnel. Whether you use that option or not, you get military-grade encryption, an app-specific kill switch, and strong leak protection. Speeds are decent across the board, and you can connect up to six devices at a time. NordVPN accepts bitcoin and ethereum.

Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Linux.


  • Zero logs
  • Great security
  • Accepts bitcoin
  • Tor over VPN servers


  • Sluggish desktop app

BUDGET-FRIENDLY:NordVPN is a solid VPN at a bargain price, and it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee

Read our full NordVPN review.

3. PrivateVPN


PrivateVPN not only works with Tor in the “Tor-over-VPN” setup we’ve described above, but also offers an alternative option: VPN over Tor. PrivateVPN’s website includes a helpful guide on how to modify the OpenVPN configuration files included with the app so that your internet traffic first passes through the Tor network, and then through the VPN. This is useful if you want to use Tor to access sites on the clear web that don’t normally allow Tor connections, since your IP address will be that of the VPN server. Note that if you don’t want your ISP to see that you’re connecting to Tor, it’s best to use a normal VPN connection and the Tor browser.

PrivateVPN offers great speeds and security, and a no-logs policy. You can connect up to six devices at a time.


  • No logs
  • Fast
  • Strong security
  • Allows Tor-over-VPN connections


  • Smaller selection of servers

UP AND COMER:PrivateVPN is a newer provider that earns its place among the veteran players. It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full PrivateVPN review.

4. CyberGhost

CyberGhost homepage screenshot

CyberGhost is the only VPN to earn a perfect score in our annual privacy and security assessment thanks to robust encryption, leak protection, a kill switch, and a zero logs policy. You can purchase with bitcoin and connect up to seven devices at a time. Speeds are excellent and connections are reliable. CyberGhost doesn’t have any Tor-specific features, but you’ll get ample protection when using the “Surf Anonymously” option and the Tor browser.

Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.


  • Excellent security
  • No logs
  • Accepts bitcoin
  • Fast speeds


  • No Tor-specific features

SUPER SECURE:CyberGhost is a great option for users who don’t compromise on security, and it comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full CyberGhost review.

5. IPVanish

IPVanish homepage

IPVanish is one of the fastest VPNs around but doesn’t skimp on privacy or security. You get uncrackable encryption, strong leak protection, and a zero-logs policy with every subscription. The apps are easy to set up and use on up to 10 devices at a time — the most of any on this list. IPVanish doesn’t accept bitcoin, so if you want to make an anonymous purchase, you may want to look elsewhere. The IPVanish apps include an obfuscation feature that disguises your encrypted tunnel as normal internet traffic, plus the option to periodically change your assigned IP address at certain intervals, bolstering anonymity.

Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.


  • Fast
  • Secure
  • No logs


  • Doesn’t accept cryptocurrency payments

FAST & SECURE:IPVanish offers a great combination of speed and security, plus a 7-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full IPVanish review.

Can I use a free VPN for the dark web?

Free VPN services are generally a bad idea if your aim is to remain anonymous online. They tend to be less secure and many will log your online activity to sell to third parties. Others inject advertisements into your browser, and some even carry malware payloads.

Aside from privacy and security risks, free VPNs are slow. If you’re using the Tor browser, your bandwidth will already be pretty limited, and a free VPN will only hamper it further. Server congestion, bandwidth limits, and data caps all contribute to a slow experience.

Paid providers have a vested interest in keeping your activity private, so we strongly recommend avoiding free alternatives.

I have a VPN and Tor Browser. Now what?

If your goal is to access the darknet, you need to know where to look. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our guide on how to access the dark web safely while keeping your anonymity intact.

Because the dark web isn’t regularly indexed by search engines like Google, it can be hard to find stuff. That’s on purpose, as most sites and services on the darknet aim to be kept secret, at least to some degree. You can’t just surf the dark web like you can the clear net.

Be very careful about links to dark web sites that you find on the clear web. The links may well lead to scam, malware, and phishing sites that look indistinguishable from a genuine site.

That being said, the darknet is home to a wide range of content, both legal and illegal. It’s important to tread with caution and never divulge any personal information that could be used to identify you.

Tor over VPN vs VPN over Tor

When you connect to a VPN and then fire up the Tor browser, outgoing internet traffic first goes through the VPN, and then through the Tor network. This setup is called VPN over Tor, and if you want to use a VPN while on the dark web, is the preferred option. Your ISP cannot detect that Tor is being used, but websites and other online services can see your traffic coming from a Tor exit node.

Tor over VPN works the opposite way, where outgoing traffic is sent through the Tor network first, and then through the VPN. Your ISP will be able to see that you’re using Tor, but websites and online services will see the connection coming from the VPN server. This setup is rarely useful but can be used to access websites that normally block Tor users. It can't be used to access the darknet, though.

If you want your Tor traffic to exit the network in a specific country, a better option would be to use Tor country codes.

L'article 5 Best VPNs for the dark web and darknet for safe, private access est apparu en premier sur Comparitech.

5 Best VPN browser extensions for 2019

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 07:58 AM PST

Best VPN browser extensions

Most VPNs require either making manual changes to your device settings or downloading and installing an app on your operating system. Instead, a VPN browser extension is a simple plugin that you can turn on and off while surfing the web. Note that we use the terms “plugin” and “extension” interchangeably.

VPN browser plugins do come with a catch, though: they only protect your web browser, and not other apps or services on your device. Other apps, games, and tools will still use a direct, unencrypted internet connection. If you want to protect them, you’ll need to install a native VPN app.

Luckily, all of the VPN providers we recommend in our list of the best VPN browser extensions also come with native apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and more.

How to use a VPN browser extension

Getting started with a VPN browser extension is easy:

  1. Sign up with a VPN provider from the list below.
  2. Download and install the extension from your browser’s official store or from the VPN provider’s website.
  3. Open the extension and log in.
  4. Select a server and connect.

Best VPN browser extensions

If you don't want to read the rest of the article, here's the shortlist of the top five VPN browser extensions:

  1. NordVPN – Lightweight, good all-round solution
  2. ExpressVPN – Advanced geo-locations spoofing
  3. Ivacy – Great for unblocking
  4. SaferVPN – Fast, secure option
  5. CyberGhost – Free, but with limitations

Not all VPNs make browser extensions, and not all VPN browser extensions are worth your time. We chose the best VPN browser plugins based on the following criteria:

  • Provider makes both a browser extension and native VPN apps
  • Secure and stable
  • Fast speeds and quick server switching
  • Can unblock geographically restricted content
  • Other useful features and protections – Money-back guarantee

1. NordVPN

nord vpn browser extensions

The NordVPN browser extension encrypts your browser’s web traffic and replaces your device’s IP address with one of NordVPN’s 5,200+ servers in 60 countries. The extension also blocks ads and malware. Users may choose a specific location or simply click Auto connect to select the best server nearby, but they do not have the option to select a specific server as they do with the desktop app.

The plugin includes an option to disable WebRTC, a protocol that can expose your real IP address even with a VPN connected.

NordVPN boasts excellent privacy and security standards and is great for unblocking geographically restricted content like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.

The NordVPN browser extension is available for Chrome, Firefox, and Firefox for Android.

  • Pros:

    • WebRTC protection
    • Works on Android (Firefox) and Chromebook
    • Lightweight and fast


    • Can’t select a specific server
    • No kill switch

ALL-ROUND FAVORITE:NordVPN's plugin is a powerful yet easy way to protect your browser and access blocked content.

Read our full NordVPN review.

2. ExpressVPN

expressvpn browser extensions ss

ExpressVPN’s web browser extension works differently than others on this list because it is not a standalone product. Instead, you must have the native VPN app already installed on your system. The browser extension remotely controls the native VPN app. The benefit is that your device is always fully protected, even if you close out of the web browser.

You can choose from a list of server locations in 94 countries or choose Smart Location to automatically select the best server nearby. ExpressVPN hosts servers that can unblock Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer, among others.

Like NordVPN's extension, ExpressVPN’s plugin comes with the option to prevent WebRTC leaks. However, instead of just disabling WebRTC, ExpressVPN changes the network path so WebRTC traffic goes through the VPN server, and your IP address is never exposed. A kill switch and DNS leak protection are built in, as is HTTPS enforcement, which opts for HTTPS-encrypted versions of websites whenever available.

Furthermore, the extension scrambles the location reported by Google’s geo-location API and HTML5 geolocation, browser features that can be used to track your location. Once connected, your reported location will be a random location within a certain distance of the VPN server.

The ExpressVPN extension is available for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.


  • Advanced location spoofing
  • WebRTC and DNS leak protection
  • Kill switch
  • Plenty of fast, secure servers
  • Works on Safari


  • Requires installing the native ExpressVPN app

ADVANCED PROTECTION:ExpressVPN's browser extension offers privacy and security benefits not found in any other VPN plugin.

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

3. Ivacy

ivacy vpn browser extension

The Ivacy browser extension easily unblocks a slew of popular streaming channels including Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, and BBC iPlayer. Along with all the usual benefits of a VPN, you get WebRTC protection. Choose from more than 50 server locations or use the Smart Purpose Selection to get a connection tailored to your needs.

Ivacy offers great security, a no-logs policy, and fast servers.

The Ivacy plugin is available for Chrome and Firefox.


  • Can unblock tons of streaming sites
  • WebRTC protection
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Fast, secure servers


  • No kill switch

GOOD FOR STREAMING:If you need a VPN browser extension that unblocks everything, Ivacy is an excellent choice.

Read our full Ivacy review.

4. SaferVPN

safervpn browser extension

The SaferVPN browser extension gives you all of the service’s standard features in a lightweight and easy-to-use plugin. That includes access to all 700+ servers, 24/7 in-app support, and great speeds. Once installed, it takes just one click to get connected. A free version is available if you’d like to test it out, but you only get 500MB of bandwidth per month–barely enough to scroll through Facebook a few times before you’re cut off.

SaferVPN boasts some of the fastest servers we’ve tested, a super simple interface, and rock-solid security. It unblocks Netflix as well as a handful of other popular streaming sites from abroad.

The plugin is available for Chrome and Firefox.


  • Fast
  • Secure
  • Easy to use
  • Unblocks Netflix


  • No kill switch or WebRTC prevention

EASY TO USE:SaferVPN will have you up and running within minutes of signing up.

Read our full review of SaferVPN.

5. CyberGhost

cyberghost browser extension

CyberGhost shuttered the free version of its native VPN apps, but the browser extensions are still available at no charge. Note that CyberGhost says “this browser plugin is not secure when accessing Flash content and does not protect you from webRTC leaks.” For full protection, you’ll need the paid subscription and the native desktop or mobile app.

The plugins were built on the Ethereum blockchain, which CyberGhost claims guarantees your data stays private. You get unlimited traffic, but as with any free VPN or proxy, that doesn’t mean unlimited bandwidth. CyberGhost says you probably won’t be able to unblock streaming channels with the extension. Furthermore, only four locations are available: Germany, Netherlands, Romania, and the US.

The CyberGhost VPN Proxy extension is available for Chrome and Firefox.


  • Free
  • Strong encryption


  • No WebRTC leak prevention
  • Doesn’t unblock streaming channels
  • Not secure when accessing Flash content
  • Only 4 locations

UPGRADE AND SAVE:If you buy a CyberGhost subscription, you’ll get a ton more servers to choose from and can unblock lots of sites like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and more.

Read our full CyberGhost review.

What about free VPN browser plugins?

There are plenty, but the vast majority are not worth a second look. Free VPNs usually impose data caps, bandwidth limits, and waiting queues on users, making it a slow grind to do anything other than basic text-based web browsing. You also get fewer servers to choose from, and those you do connect to are often congested by other free users.

Even free VPN providers need to make money to pay for server upkeep and other overhead costs. Their business models often entail siphoning off the personal details and browsing activity data of users, which can then be sold to advertisers. This contradicts the whole point of using a VPN in the first place: to improve online privacy.

Finally, free VPNs are sometimes fronts for spreading malware. Browser extensions are certainly no exception. Plenty of malware has found its way onto the Chrome and Firefox storefronts.

In short, it's best to stick to paid providers. Your peace of mind is worth a few dollars per month.

Browser extensions vs native apps

There’s some debate about whether VPN browser extensions actually constitute VPNs. In fact, most of them are HTTPS proxies. Only data sent to and from your web browser goes through the encrypted proxy. Internet traffic from other apps like Steam, Spotify, and your operating system are still sent through a direct, unencrypted connection. That includes DNS traffic, which can be used by your internet service provider to track your web history.

If you want full protection for your entire device, consider downloading and installing a native VPN app. All of the providers we recommended above make apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android, plus a few others in some cases. These apps tunnel all the incoming and outgoing data from your entire device through the VPN server, not just your web browser.

On a related note, steer clear of VPN browser extensions that don’t require you to log in. Extensions that allow anyone to connect don’t have a strong authentication process in place, which makes them vulnerable to attacks by hackers.

L'article 5 Best VPN browser extensions for 2019 est apparu en premier sur Comparitech.

How to use Tor country codes on Windows, Mac & Linux to spoof your location

Posted: 17 Jan 2019 07:49 AM PST

How to use Tor country codesTor is one of the most important tools for anonymous browsing. While its standard configuration is great for hiding your web activity, you will have to make some alterations if you want your data to travel through nodes in specific countries. This article will show you how to change Tor country codes on Windows, Mac and Linux.

Thankfully, it's easy to set up.  By the end of this guide, you'll be able to send web traffic from Albania to Zambia, all without leaving your house.

Why would you want to change your country code in Tor?

When you run Tor normally, your web traffic enters the network at a random node, bounces around a number of different relays and leaves from a randomly chosen exit node, onward to your target destination. This process helps to hide where data originates from, which gives anonymity to internet users.

Anonymous browsing is great, but there are also situations where users want their data to travel through certain locations. Some people want to spoof their identity or the location that their data originates from.

As examples, an activist in Guatemala may want their internet traffic to look like it comes from someone that lives in Belgium, in order to protect themselves and hide from the authorities. Likewise, a Cuban artist may want to pose as a New Zealander to get around some of the government's restrictions.

Changing the country codes allows people in these situations to choose the specific countries that they want their data to go through. It's relatively easy to change the settings as well, which means that anyone with an internet connection can do it.

Disadvantages of using Tor country codes

If you select very specific countries, particularly those without many Tor nodes, you may not be able to connect successfully. If you can, the connection may be unstable and difficult to use. In general, the more you limit your selection of nodes, the poorer your connection will be.

Tor country codes vs. VPNs for spoofing your location

Altering Tor country codes can be a great way to spoof your location, but it's not the only way, or the most suitable in many situations. VPNs can be much more effective for many different use cases.

If your priority is anonymity, and you don't want to have to trust a third party like a VPN provider, then Tor may be the best option for geo-spoofing. It's free, but generally quite slow, and is a good choice for activism and related uses.

If you want to spoof your location so that you can watch geo-restricted Netflix or something similar, you should use a VPN instead of the Tor network. The first reason is practical—your connection will be much faster over a reliable VPN.

The other main issue is that the Tor network is an important tool for many activists, dissidents and others that need its anonymity for their own safety. Tor is already under a lot of strain because there aren't enough nodes for the number of people that want to use it.

Many would view it as unethical if you were to cause even more strain on an already struggling network just so you can watch Game of Thrones. If this is the only reason you want to spoof your location, it's best to get a VPN.

See also: How to use Tor with VPN

How to change your Tor country code in Windows, Mac or Linux

Changing your country codes involves a slightly different setup for each system, but once you have done that, the country coding process is the same.

Getting started with Windows

The first step to changing the country codes in Tor is to download and install the browser. Before you start modifying the codes, you need to make sure that you have run Tor at least once beforehand. This makes the torrc file appear, which you need for changing the nodes that Tor is running through.

Once the installation is complete, you will need to double click the Tor icon to open the browser, then hit Connect in the screen that pops up. Once you have connected, the torrc file will be available, and you can move on with the rest of the process as follows.

Regular Tor users (and those new users who have just connected Tor for the first time) can get started by looking for the torrc file. To find it, double click on the Browser folder, then double click on the TorBrowser folder inside that.

In the TorBrowser folder, there is another folder called Data. Double click on it. Here, you will see another folder called Tor. Double click on it as well. This brings you to the torrc file:


Double click on the torrc file to open it. In the window that appears, it will ask you to choose which program you want to open the file with. Select Notepad which will bring up the following window:


Once you’ve done this, you can skip ahead to the section called Putting the Tor country codes into the text editor.

Getting started with Mac

Just like with Windows, you need to make sure that you have run Tor at least once beforehand for the torrc file to appear. If you haven’t already done so, download the Tor Browser and install it. Once it has been set up, open the browser and click Connect.

Once Tor has been connected at least once, you will need to find the torrc file. First, head to the Go tab, then click on Go to Menu, which appears in the submenu:


Look up your Tor folder with the following address:


Once you are inside the folder, locate the torrc file. Double click on it, then select TextEdit from the Open With options:


It will open up the following file:


From this point, you can move ahead to the section named Putting the Tor country codes into the text editor.

Getting started with Linux

Before you begin, you will need to have set up Tor and run it at least once. You can download the Tor Browser from the Tor Project’s website, then run the setup. Open the browser, then click connect, so that the torrc file will appear.

Once this has been done, you can locate the torrc file by opening the Tor Browser folder, then heading from the Browser subfolder to TorBrowser, then to Browser, and then finally to the Tor folder.

Open the torrc file with your usual text editor to bring up the file. This is where you will be able to add in your desired country codes. It will look much the same as the Notepad and TextEdit files shown in the Windows and Mac sections above, respectively. Once you have done this, you can move onto the next section.

Putting the Tor country codes into the text editor

Now that you have opened the file (in either Windows, Mac or Linux), it's time to look up the entry and exit nodes that you would like to use in Tor. Head to the following link at SCCM Rookie to find the codes for the countries you want to connect through. Each country code is made up of two letters in between the brackets {}:


As an example, the country code for Argentina is ar, while the code for Bangladesh is bd. In this tutorial, we will be using the Netherlands {nl}, Germany {de}, the United States {us}, Singapore {sg} and Australia {au} as both our entry and exit nodes. For other country codes, scroll through the page linked above.

Once you have found the country codes you are looking for, head back to the Notepad file (for Windows), Text Edit file (for Mac), or whichever text editor you used (if you are changing your country codes in Linux), that we opened before. Click underneath the last line of text and type in the following (including the spaces after both "EntryNodes" and "ExitNodes", but without spaces between each country code):

EntryNodes {nl},{de},{us},{au},{sg}

ExitNodes {nl},{de},{us},{au},{sg}

The EntryNodes code specifies which entry nodes you would like Tor to use. The ExitNodes code does the same, but for exit nodes. Be aware that under these settings, Tor can still use nodes in other countries between the entry and exit.

If Tor cannot connect properly using any of the specified entry and exit nodes, it will revert to other nodes, which could force your data to travel through undesirable locations.

See the Other useful Tor country codes section at the end of the article if you want to see some other options. These include codes that can be used to exclude nodes, and those that can force Tor to only use certain nodes, even if that means that the connection will otherwise fail.

It should look like this in Windows:


Or like this in Mac:

Remember to substitute the {nl}, {de}, {us}, {au}, and {sg} for the country codes of your choice.

When you have finished with your selections, do the following:

  • Windows – Click File in the top left corner of Notepad, then Save as… In the box that comes up, go to the Save as type option at the bottom and choose All Files. Then click on the torrc file, followed by Save and Yes:


  • Mac – Hit Command and S at the same time to save the file, then close it.
  • Linux – Save the file as you normally would (this will depend on which text editor you are using).

Now that you have altered and saved the torrc file, launch your Tor Browser. Go to the website of your choice. In this case, we will head to Wikipedia. To the left of the URL, you will see a small icon with an i in a circle:


Click on it to see the circuit that your connection is making. If you have done things correctly and Tor can connect through the selected countries, you will see that your traffic is using your chosen entry and exit nodes. In this case, the Tor connection is running through Germany and the Netherlands.

As you can see, changing the country codes in Tor is a simple process, allowing you to spoof your location easily. Under the settings listed above, you can select any nodes that you like, and Tor will ideally send your traffic through those entry and exit nodes. If it cannot make a stable connection using them, then it will revert to other nodes.

See also: The ultimate guide to Tor

Other useful Tor country codes

Using the above settings is not ideal for every use case. In some situations, it may be best to exclude the nodes that you don't want to use, rather than set the nodes that you want to include. For example, you may only want to exclude exit nodes in the United States.

Excluding nodes

To do this, follow the exact same process as above, but instead of using the EntryNodes and ExitNodes codes from earlier, use ExcludeExitNodes. You would type the following into the torrc file in Notepad:

ExcludeExitNodes {us}

If you wanted to exclude multiple exit nodes, you would just separate them with commas as we did earlier. In other situations, you may want to exclude certain nodes from being used as entry points, exit points or anywhere in between. To do this, you use the ExcludeNodes code in the same way:

ExcludeNodes {us}


By using the codes above by themselves, you still run into the problem that Tor can revert to using excluded nodes if it cannot make a stable connection in any other way. If you would prefer to not connect at all, rather than connect through certain locations, you need to add in the StrictNodes code. You can place it underneath any of the codes mentioned above.

With a StrictNodes setting of 1, Tor will only connect through your specified nodes (and avoid those that you have excluded). If it cannot successfully connect through these specified nodes, then it will fail, rather than revert to nodes that have been excluded.

With a StrictNodes setting of 0, Tor will avoid the excluded nodes if possible. If it cannot make a stable connection on allowed nodes, it will revert to other nodes in order to function properly.

You can use the StrictNodes setting by entering any of the other codes that we mentioned above (EntryNodes, ExitNodes, ExcludeExitNodes, ExcludeNodes) into the torrc file in Notepad, followed by whichever country codes you choose to either include or exclude.

You then enter StrictNodes in the following line, with a 1 if you only want certain nodes to be used, even if that results in a failed connection. If you would prefer Tor to stay connected, even if it means using undesirable nodes, enter a 0 instead.

As an example, if you absolutely don't want Tor to use any nodes based in the United States, you would enter the following:

ExcludeNodes {us}

StrictNodes 1

Tor's country code options are flexible, allowing you to connect in whichever way suits your purposes and risk profile. Some users will value being able to stay connected no matter which nodes are being used, while others may worry about their security if their traffic goes through certain locations. Thankfully, it's easy to set up in a way that matches your needs.

Related: How to access the dark web with Tor

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