Tor (originally short for The Onion Router) began life as a U.S. Navy project for anonymous online activity, but is now used by a wide range of people, including the military, journalists, bloggers, activists (and, yes, sometimes criminals). Tor makes communications harder to trace through traffic analysis by routing Internet activity through a series of network nodes, each ignorant of the whole route from beginning to end. The trade-off for increased security is slower speed. If you're interested in what Tor has to offer, try out these six tools and apps.
The Tor Browser Bundle contains everything you need to set up Tor and surf the web through the anonymous router network. The bundle includes a hardened variant of Firefox, as well as Vidalia, a GUI control system for your Tor connection and settings. It's not perfect, as Tor itself points out on its website, but combined with smart browsing habits, it can reduce your exposure online. Additionally, the Vidalia software included in the bundle offers fine control over Tor's settings.
TAILS, or The Amnesiac Incognito Live System, is an operating system designed as a live disk and built with Tor in mind. TAILS has Tor built in, and blocks applications from connecting to the Internet except through Tor, assuring that your net activity is anonymized. In addition to securing your browsing, instant messaging, and email, TAILS is designed to leave no trace on your machine, using only RAM so as not to leave physical traces on the hard drive. Additional cryptographic tools provide extra protection. It's not perfect, but TAILS does reduce risks.
MORE: Worst Online Scams
Orbot is a free proxy app for connecting your Android device to Tor. It allows your Android apps to access the web anonymously. Apps that allow for proxy settings (such as Twitter) can be configured to use Tor through Orbot via the settings found here: https://goo.gl/2OA1y. Orbot can be combined with Orweb in order to browse the Internet anonymously, or Gibberbot for private chatting. Additionally, rooted Android users can get even more out of Orbot with settings for routing just about all of your Internet traffic through Tor.
Gibberbot is The Guardian Project's encrypted chatting app for Android users. Gibberbot supports a broad range of chat networks, including Google, Facebook, Yandex, Jabber. You'll enjoy Off The Record encryption support when you're chatting with another OTR-enabled user. Gibberbot integrates with OrBot for even further protection by routing through TOR.
Onion Browser is an iOS mobile browser configured to let users easily connect to Tor's anonymizing system, allowing you to browse with Tor online. As with the Tor Browser Bundle for desktop, the Onion Browser trades speed for security, as mentioned in the iTunes description. User-agent spoofing lets you mask the hardware you're using, and cookie controls and rapid IP address are among the other features.