How to use censored applications while maintaining anonymity and privacy.

1. Introduction.


The purpose of this article is to provide companies and individual users with a set of strategies to access software that may be restricted in their country of residence or where they have traveled.

For such purposes, TOR will be used instead of conventional VPNs or proxies because TOR offers anonymity, while VPNs tend to offer only privacy, which is not always guaranteed. In addition, many proxies can be insecure, as with VPNs, there is an operating entity that could potentially intercept data traffic and expose the user’s original connection, thus increasing the risks of personal identification.


2. Bypassing censorship using different methods.


Next, we explore the various ways to circumvent censorship on the use of computer programs across different devices, through the use of TOR, which is available for the following Operating Systems:



It is important to note that certain applications, such as Telegram or WhatsApp, can be accessed through a web interface, which simplifies their access through the TOR Web Browser, maintaining anonymity and bypassing censorship.

It is very important to download the TOR software from its official website, and not through third parties.


a) On mobile devices with Android and iOS operating systems.


a.1) Steps to follow for using applications through the TOR web browser.


  1. Download the TOR Browser from its official website.

  1. Follow the installation steps as indicated.
  2. Once the application is installed, open it and click the “Connect” button.

  1. After connecting to the TOR network, we will be ready to navigate and use messaging applications via the web.


  1. Now, simply access the censored application’s web interface. In this case, we demonstrate access to Telegram via its web service: https://web.telegram.org


  1. At this point, we only need to enter the requested information to log in, allowing us to use the application without censorship and anonymously. It is recommended to read the following article to learn how to create an anonymous instant messaging account: https://jaymonsecurity.com/send-share-information-anonymously/

a.2) In the case of wanting to use the applications through TOR at a system level.


That is, all outgoing and incoming traffic generated in the system goes through TOR. To do this, the installation of “ORBOT, TOR’S VPN FOR SMARTPHONES” must be carried out. In this way, all Smartphone applications will make their connections through the TOR network. The steps are as follows:

  1. Install Orbot from its official page.
  1. Open Orbot and carry out the initial configuration:
    • Start Orbot.
    • Follow the on-screen instructions to start connecting to the Tor network. This may include selecting a bridge if your connection to the Tor network is blocked in your location.
  2. Set Orbot to start when the device is turned on:
    • In Orbot’s settings, look for the option to enable Orbot at startup. This will ensure that your internet traffic is routed through Tor every time you turn on your device.
  3. Enable Orbot’s VPN mode:
    • Orbot has a built-in VPN feature that allows routing all your device’s internet traffic through the Tor network without the need for root. However, if you want deeper integration, continue with the next step.
  4. (Optional) Use a root-supported firewall application to force specific application traffic through Orbot:
    • Download a firewall application that supports “iptables” and has functionality for rooted devices, such as “AFWall+” (requires root).
    • Configure the firewall application to allow traffic only through Orbot. This may require advanced and specific configurations depending on the application you choose.

For installing the TOR browser on iOS, it is advised to visit the following link: https://support.torproject.org/es/tormobile/tormobile-3/


b) On devices with the Windows Operating System.


As mentioned in the previous section, instant messaging applications that have a web interface can be used through the TOR web browser, which can be downloaded for any operating system from its official website.



However, if we want all applications on our Windows Operating System to route their connections through the TOR network, we will need to install OnionFruit from its official website.



The installation is very simple and intuitive: download the installer, run it, and then connect to TOR as indicated by the application. Once the connection is made, it will show that we are connected to TOR, as can be seen in the following screenshot.



To learn more about this solution, you can view the following articles:

  1. https://blog.elhacker.net/2021/10/onionfruit-herramienta-permite-enrutar-todo-el-trafico-windows-red-TOR.html
  2. https://seguridadpy.info/2021/10/onionfruit-enruta-tu-trafico-a-traves-de-tor-en-windows

c) On devices with the Linux Operating System.


As mentioned in section “a” of this article, instant messaging applications that have a web interface can be used through the TOR web browser, which can be downloaded for any operating system from its official site.

However, if we want all applications on our LINUX Operating System to route through TOR, we will need to install TorGhost from its official repository.



For the installation of TorGhost and to learn more about the tool, the following articles are recommended:

  1. https://hackpuntes.com/torghost-reenvia-todo-el-trafico-a-la-red-tor/
  2. https://es.linkedin.com/pulse/como-redirigir-todo-el-tr%C3%A1fico-de-red-en-linux-trav%C3%A9s-alfonso-l%C3%B3pez

d) Using the TAILS Operating System on a Live USB or in a Virtual Machine. (For computers).


This option is undoubtedly the best but not the most practical. However, due to the security it provides, it is essential for those cases where anonymity and privacy are non-negotiable.

TAILS must be downloaded from its official website and follow its installation guide.



To install it on a virtual machine, virtualization software such as VirtualBox is required.


e) Use of reliable proxies.


Through the following Telegram group, Proxies against censorship are provided. However, if we cannot access Telegram, we will not be able to access them in this way, so it is advised as an additional layer of security after bypassing censorship using the techniques shown in the previous points.



The enabled proxies can be seen below for connection with a simple “connect” button.



Also, the MTProxy tool can be installed through the official MTProxy tool repository, where all the necessary instructions are provided.



f) Good privacy and anonymity practices in instant messaging applications, using Telegram as an example.


Settings:

  1. Set your phone number to be invisible to everyone.
  2. Disable automatic media download.
  3. Configure the app so only your contacts can find you by your phone number.
  4. Set your “last seen online” and timestamp visibility to nobody.
  5. Allow only your contacts to view your profile photo.
  6. Permit only your contacts (or nobody, if you prefer) to call you.
  7. In peer-to-peer calls, allow only your contacts (or nobody, if you prefer) to see your IP address.
  8. Verify the four emojis at the top right corner when starting a call to protect yourself from man-in-the-middle attacks.
  9. Configure the app so only your contacts can add a link to your account when forwarding your messages.
  10. Use a reliable proxy or VPN, preferably TOR, for the app.
  11. Ensure only your contacts can add you to groups and channels.
  12. Set up two-factor authentication (2FA). Learn more about 2FA from the link provided by Telegram.

Additional Security Measures:

  1. Disable loop animation for animated stickers as they pose a risk.
  2. Turn off automatic media downloads, both on Wi-Fi and cellular, in the privacy and security section.
  3. Disable P2P calls for everyone to prevent exposing your IP address, the same with secret chats.
  4. Turn off link and image previews in secret chats.
  5. Disable automatic GIF playback.
  6. It’s advised not to activate (via /start) any Telegram bot.
  7. If you need to open a PDF or other file types that might contain embedded macros (Office suite, etc.), use the recommended platforms.
  8. Monitor your active sessions. Terminate any inactive sessions and be aware of session theft.

Usage Tips:

  1. If you receive a message about logging into your account, verify that it is a legitimate notification from Telegram.
  2. To log in to Telegram, use a different phone number or even a virtual number instead of your current mobile number.
  3. For computers, it’s advisable to have a dedicated virtual machine that is separate from the host machine, with an account logged into the application. It’s recommended that this virtual machine runs the TAILS Operating System.
  4. The more devices connected to the account, the higher the risk of account compromise.

g) Other resources of interest.


1. How to send information anonymously.



2. How to share information anonymously.



3. How to protect your information and be anonymous on the Internet.



4. Securing our devices against potential espionage.



5. Complete guide on Cold wallets for Cryptocurrencies.



If you need consulting on internet anonymity and privacy, or secure cryptocurrency wallets, you can contact us through our contact form.

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