What Is Onion Over VPN? A Complete Beginner’s Guide
This guide explains what Onion Over VPN is, how to use it, how safe it is, and some of the pros and cons.
Using a VPN is quite normal, especially if you do not want to be tracked by anyone when using your browser. ISP has been notorious for doing this to their customers. Onion Over VPN, sometimes known as Tor over VPN, is where you get to use a Tor browser and the VPN software simultaneously. So, what is Onion Over VPN? The answer is right here.
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This is a privacy solution that aids in providing additional layers of encryption where internet traffic must be passed through a VPN server before being sent to its destination, the Tor network. This guide explains what Onion Over VPN is, how to use it, how safe it is, and some of the pros and cons.
What Is Onion Over VPN?
To get to know what Onion is, we need to understand what the Tor network is and how it works. This network is volunteer-run for nodes, which are computer networks. When you access the Tor network through the Tor browser, which is part of the Onion browser, it creates traffic that is passed through several nodes.
The data passed through a Tor node is then encrypted each time it passes there, thus making it hard to trace back to its original traffic source. Onion Over VPN helps to be able to encrypt traffic from your browser and reroute it so that it hides any data that identify as you.
Users also need to understand what a VPN is. A VPN has a similar look to that of a proxy server. The internet signal usually travels first to a VPN server and then is transferred to the website it is trying to allocate. The beauty of this is that the transmitted signals are usually encrypted, making it hard for anyone to know who the user is, including their ISP.
All they can see are disorganized signals that won’t make sense to them. When the encrypted data reaches the VPN server, it is decrypted and later sent to its destination. VPN servers are usually more secure as they use advanced encryption ciphers such as ChaCha20 and AES-256 for connection encryption, making your traffic anonymous.
How to Use Onion Over VPN
Accessing the Onion network with Onion over VPN can be easy. The NordVPN can be implemented on the Tor network. When Using NordVPN, the feature is usually handled as a set of servers with specialties. Access to these servers can sometimes be difficult if one is not using the OpenVPN protocol.
Users will need to switch from that protocol to a NordVPN. Here are the steps involved:
Step 1: Users will be required to access the settings menu in the NordVPN app on their desktop or mobile phone.
Step 2: They will then reveal the VPN Protocol settings and select the auto-connect tab; turn it off if the “choose a VPN protocol and server automatically” is on.
Step 3: OpenVPN by switching the VPN Protocol, select “OpenVPN (TCP) under the VPN protocol.
Step 4: Select the Onion server over VPN servers. Users will see it under the “specialty servers” on the home screen. Click on it to see the list of onion servers available.
Step 5: Click on “Onion Over VPN,” prompting it to connect automatically to the available server.
Is Onion Over VPN Safe?
When users connect to a VPN right before they use the Tor network, it helps them provide additional layers of security and privacy as compared to just using the Tor browser alone. However, this does not mean they can entirely rely on it, even though they can use it to improve its safety on Tor when using Onion over VPN.
Using Onion over VPN aids in protecting one’s traffic and blocks your browser from any form of surveillance. The VPN service cannot monitor your activities, and the internet service provider cannot know that you are using Tor. This setup can prove to be quite inconvenient, as it is slow compared to using the Tor browser alone. The setup is only recommended when security is key.
The safety of Onion Over VPN can sometimes be compromised, just like any other cybersecurity tool. Therefore, it has both its advantages and disadvantages, but you should follow the right setup or use some VPNs like NordVPN, which is mostly recommended as it comes with built-in support for Onion Over VPN; thus no need for the Tor browser.
Still, your IP address actually stays hidden when using the Tor browser over a VPN, making it safer. The plus side of using VPNs that support Onion over VPN is being able to use any application with Tor and not just the Tor browser, as doing configurations on single apps to use Tor can be difficult; thus, the built-in is more convenient.
The downside is that some websites can still identify you through saved cookies if you choose to use the common browser.
What Is Onion Over VPN – Pros
- There is a providence of an additional layer for encryption.
- The internet service provider cannot see that one is using Tor.
- The VPN service cannot monitor the browser and its history.
- It protects against certain types of malware.
- The IP address is hidden from the Tor guard node.
- In geo-blocked locations, one can easily access the Tor network.
- In traffic correlated attacks, it protects against complete de-anonymization.
What Is Onion Over VPN – Cons
- It has slow connection speeds
- The websites easily and frequently block the exit nodes
- Tor can only support the TCP protocol.
- The IP location address cannot be controlled.
- Has a high risk from malicious exit nodes.
- The VPN service easily knows the IP address.
As much as the VPN service does not know you are using Tor, they will see what you are doing.
Related articles: WireGuard vs OpenVPN | Is a VPN Worth It
What Is Onion Over VPN – Conclusion
As seen above, Onion Over VPN, when using the Tor network (browser), has proven to be safer just from the layers of encryptions it provides to its user. However, setting it up can be difficult at some point. In addition, the fact that it automatically picks up available servers and allocates them to you makes the system much slower if you use the Tor browser.
Using VPNs that already have built-in support for Onion over VPN makes it easier, as you just set up a Tor over a VPN and are ready to start sending data. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages, so using Onion Over VPN can be the right choice.