There is a nice bundle of the Tor network security tool, Privox and the Opera browser available called OperaTor. It includes a non-open-source .exe file, which is my eyes makes it not worth trusting, but you don’t need to: There’s also a Build-Your-Own version available which let’s you make your own custom “OperaTor” variant.
You can go the official OperaTor - Opera + Tor + Privoxy website and scroll down to where it says “MakeOperaTor“. This package is simply a install program which installs configuration files for Tor, Opera and Privoxy - and a .exe file for OperaTor.
The idea is that you can download a copy of Tor, Opera and Privoxy, extract them to those folders and run the install program to magically configure them in a way which is suited for a Tor-USB keystick.
Why would I want these programs on a USB keystick?
There are a good number of reasons you’d want to use the Internet in a public place without giving away your location. Perhaps your a celeberty and don’t want the press storming in for interviews. A USB keystick with a browser and anonymity software allows you to use nearly any Internet-connected computer to suft anonymously - without installing anything on the computer. You only need to be able to run the software on your USB device.
So why do I need all these programs?
Tor is a traffic analysis resistant network secuity tool which provides many excellent properties, including anonymity. In bullet summary: If you are at a Internet cafe and you check your e-mail then the adversary can’t learn your location by watching your e-mail provider, and so on.
Web browsers leak all sorts of information through the anonymous Tor connection, so you need something in between Tor and your browser. Privoxy is a great filter. That’s why you need it as part of your bundle.
And last: A browser. OperaTor is package made for the Opera browser, that’s what it includes, and that’s what MakeOperaTor configures. But it doesn’t have to be. You can easily use a browser such as FirefoxPortable instead (It’s also possible to use Polipo instead of Privoxy). You could just use the browser installed on the computer you’re at, but then you’d have to configure it’s proxy settings, and not all computers allow you to change such settings. You’re better off starting a browser with a ready-to-use configuration from your USB keystick
When you run MakeOperaTor then it makes configuration files for Tor, Privoxy and Opera. You have to download and install these packages seperately.
The generated configuration files..
Running the installation program creates these files:
You don’t have to install anything before running the installer, you can run it without having any of the parts of the package installed in order to just create the needed config files. MakeOperaTor also installs a .exe file which starts all of the seperate programs, but you don’t need that. Here’s the above listed files who are generated, without the OperaTor.exe:
Now, when you have these files, from this .zip or generated using MakeOperaTor, all you need to do is to download a copy of Tor, Oprea and Privoxy, extract them to their respective folders and then copy the configuration files into those folders. And you’re (almost) done.
You can start each of these programs seperately, but you may want an “automatic” solution which does this for you - like the OperaTor.exe binary included in OperaTor does (the alternative bundle “TorPark” also does this). The very important detail here is that both OperaTor.exe and Torpark’s executable’s only function is to start three seperate files.
So why are there .exe files in those bundles? And why is the source of these executable files not available? Nobody but nobody seems to be talking.
The obvious thing to do is to create a file called start.bat which contains:
start “Tor” /DTor /MIN tor.exe -f torrc
start “Privoxy” /DPrivoxy /MIN privoxy.exe
start “Opera /DOpera Opera.exe
(start.bat is included in the above zip)
This will start Tor, Privoxy and Opera for you. Just like the .exe files do. Except that you can read what the .bat file does, you can verify what it does and it must also be noted that this batch file does not take up 200KB of space like OperaTor.exe does. You have to exit each of the seperate programs yourself, which is a drawback compared to using a .exe file, but it’s really not that hard (it’s also not that hard to start them seperately).
The Opera configuration…
As mentioned: What you want to do is:
- Create (or download) the configuratio files.
- Install Tor, Privoxy and Opera into subfolders Tor/ Privoxy/ and Opera/ in a ThisWillBeOnMyUSB/ folder.
- Copy the configuration files into those folders
And then there is 4): Start and configure Opera. The included configuration files for Tor and Privoxy are just fine, but the Opera configuration has some issues. You need to start Opera and change at least the following settings:
- Go to Tools -> Preferences -> Advanced -> History
- Set addresses under “Remember history” to zero.
- Set “Disc cache” to zero.
- Check if there are any other settings you’d want to fine-tune.
The reason this is so vital is that you never know when you loose your USB device, or the adversary steals it from you, or I pick-pocket you and get it, and now I get to see all the websites you’ve visited using Tor. It’s essential to make sure that no evidence is left on your USB stick (except intentionally saved documents) when you leave the cybercafe / library / etc.
Now make a .zip file of what you’ve got for future reference, and copy ThisWillBeOnMyUSB/ onto your USB keychain, test it on a trusted computer and now you’re all set to start using your Tor + Privoxy + Opera package in the wild.
Note: If you find this information hard to understand then you really should spend some time learning a thing or two about computers. As the Warning on the official Tor website says: There are many things who can make Tor less secure than it can be, and you can only be sure you’re actually anonymous if you know what you are doing. You could just go with the ready-to-use OperaTor package (and the included OperaTor.exe file), but you’ll both learn more and get a better package if you make one yourself, and you really should know which seperate package does what and how they work together if you rely on the security properties Tor provides.