The first thing we are going to do is find out what the onion service offers us, which is closely related to Tor. Next we will briefly explain what a VPN is and then we will explain in detail what Onion over VPN is.
What is Tor and a VPN
Tor comes from the acronym in English The Onion Router which translated into Spanish means The Onion Router. This is a project whose main objective is the development of a distributed communications network with low latency and superimposed on the Internet. The aim is to ensure that the routing of messages exchanged between Internet users does not reveal their public IP address in order to achieve privacy at the network level. In addition, it tries to ensure the integrity and secrecy of the information that travels through it.
This is achieved with free software that uses the onion routing so that the information travels from the origin to the destination through a series of special routers called onion routers which in English would be the onion routers. If we want to access it, the easiest way to do it is through the Tor browser that is maintained by Tor Project. It should be noted that it is not 100% infallible and that as a drawback it has that our connection speed will be reduced compared to if we do not use anything.
A VPN we can define it as a virtual private network. It is a computer network technology that allows a secure extension of the local area network over a public network such as the Internet. VPNs work by establishing a virtual point-to-point connection through the use of dedicated connections that are encrypted or not. Normally, they are encrypted because otherwise we would lose a lot of security and we will hardly notice differences in terms of speed. Therefore, the use of unencrypted VPN is totally inadvisable.
The best thing is to opt for a paid VPN, because the free ones in most cases end up selling our data. His way of working is as if our data travels in a tunnel where the information travels encrypted. This way we would be safe from hackers, our Internet provider and companies that collect information from us.
What is Onion over VPN
Thanks to Onion over VPN we can combine two of the best privacy and security tools we have today. One of them would be the use of a VPN service and the other the use of the Onion network that uses the Tor browser that we have talked about before. Simply by using one of them, be it a VPN or the Onion network, we achieve security and privacy when using the Internet.
When we use Onion over VPN we combine the two in the sense that our Internet traffic first goes through a VPN server and then goes through the Onion network to be sent to the Internet. In this way, we can be sure that our online activity remains anonymous because we have double protection. In this case, the concept involves accessing the Internet using the onion network through a VPN.
Why it is good to use Onion over VPN
Thanks to Onion over VPN we can protect our public IP address so that it is not visible to the Tor access node to which we are going to connect. Additionally, using Onion over VPN also prevents our ISP from seeing that we are connected to the Tor network. In that aspect, you can only see that we are connected to a VPN service.
Our team will connect to the VPN server, then connect to the Tor network through an entry node. To maintain our privacy, the Tor software will group our data into three layers of encryption. For that Tor is going to route our data through three nodes that are the servers established by volunteers before they are online. With this way of operating it is achieved that only the Tor entry node knows our IP address but it will be the IP address of our VPN service provider.
In summary, Onion over VPN offers us the following advantages:
- Multiple layers of encryption to protect our anonymity.
- If the Tor network were compromised, our public IP would be safe.
Does its use have any inconvenience?
We have already seen that maintaining privacy and anonymity is a good option because it improves our privacy. One of the drawbacks of VPNs is that when using them we will lose speed with respect to the bandwidth that we have contracted. Keep in mind that when transmitting our encrypted data they will be higher and we will also depend on the quality of our VPN provider. For this reason, those that usually offer better speed are those of payment.
When using Onion over VPN, things get more complicated, it would go through our VPN server and then through 3 nodes of the Tor network. That means that it will go through four different servers and depending on that the speed will be reduced more or less. Obviously, this means that the speed will be reduced significantly more than by using a simple VPN.
How to use Onion over VPN
As for the ways that we could use Onion over VPN, there would be two. One would be directly through our VPN provider who would offer us a special service with all the advantages of the onion router (Tor, The Onion Router) along with the security of a VPN tunnel. An example of a provider that offers it is NordVPN. This means that if we have this option enabled we can use any browser and the traffic will pass through the Tor network.
Finally, the second option to use Onion over VPN would be to combine a VPN with the mandatory use of the Tor browser. If we were to use any other browser, it would be simply as if we were using a VPN.