In my line of work, often being able to circumvent blocked sites is a much needed skill set. This is because, the luxury of an internet connectivity sometimes spoiled with an imposed restriction to certain websites and for us who spent more than a month in the middle of the sea, not being able to reach certain site (read facebook, emails, whatsapp etc) are torturing.
Sure, you can use VPN but fortunately, for Android users we have an application called Orbot and it’s free. It should work on both older and new model Android phones, and does not require a rooted phone (although there are some advantages to using it with one). Orbot is designed for proficient Android users.
What is Orbot?
- Orbot sets up a connection to the Tor network and channel the connection to Android making it available for apps to connect anonymously through a local proxy.
- It is currently the only readily available mobile app that can connect to the Tor network – it is also the only mobile app approved by the Tor Project.
- This app was developed by the Guardian Project, an intiative dedicated to developing easy to use mobile apps for people who need privacy, security and anonymity in their communications
- To use Orbot, you need to have installed and configured the app, connected to the Tor network, and configured your browser or instant messaging client to route traffic through Orbot’s local proxy. If you don’t have Orbot configured correctly, you may not be browsing using Tor. To check, go to https://check.torproject.org/
- With Orbot and any other Tor client, your ISP or mobile network operator can tell you are using Tor to browse anonymously – but not what sites you are accessing.
- Unless you encrypt your browsing by using HTTPS (or use an instant messaging app that supports HTTPS – Gibberbot does, Beem does not), the last node in the Tor system (the exit node) can see your communications in plain text.
About the Tor Project
- Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security known as traffic analysis. Learn more at https://torproject.org
Please note, you will need at least 30Mb internal storage space in your device before you can install Orbot.
- You can download Orbot by scanning the barcode on the Tor Project’s download page, or search for it in the Android market.
- Install an Orbot-compatible browser app
- If you have an Android 1.x phone (G1, MyTouch3G, Hero, Droid Eris, Cliq, Momen) or an older or less powerful Android 2.x or 3.x phone that won’t run Firefox, install Orweb in the Android market.
- If have an new model Android 2.x or 3.x or 4.x phone, install Firefox for Android from the Android Market, and install the ProxyMob Addon for Firefox.
- If you have a rooted phone, Orbot transparently sends all traffic through Tor while it is connected, and you don’t need to install a specific browser app.
- Install an Orbot-compatible instant messaging app
- For unrooted phone, find and install Gibberbot from the Android market
- If you have a rooted phone, Orbot transparently sends all traffic through Tor while it is connected, and you don’t need to install a specific instant messaging app.
- Start Orbot, press menu on your phone and choose “Help“.
- For unrooted phone, click the check box on the Orbot Permissions screen to continue without root, then click next
- You should already have installed the latest Orbot-enabled apps in the previous step. If you want to try other apps, install them on the Orbot-enabled apps screen
- On the Orbot-enabled apps screen, click the proxy settings button to see the proxy settings you should use to connect your chosen browser and instant messaging app to Orbot. It’s a good idea to write these down!
Start using the applications.
- Start up Orbot and press the big button in the middle of the screen. You will see the button start changing colour. Yellow for “connecting“, Green means connection has been successfully made to Tor network.
- Set Gibberbot to use Tor by checking the “Connect using Tor” option on the login screen.
- If you’re using OrWeb, no further configuration is required. Browse to https://check.torproject.org/ (press the menu key and select “Go” to enter an address) to confirm you’re using Tor.
- If you’re using Firefox for Android with ProxyMob add-on, you’ll find the proxy settings in the Add-ons menu under ProxyMob’s add-on options. Use 127.0.0.1 (the address that tells the browser that the proxy is running on your phone itself) as the proxy host for both HTTP and SOCKS. Set the HTTP proxy port to 8118, and/or the SOCKS proxy port to 9050. Browse to https://check.torproject.org/ to confirm you’re using Tor.
- As an alternative, you could also using HTTP Proxying on an unrooted device or adding custom iptables if you’re using rooted Android device.
In any cases, I hope this little bit of information is enough for you to also be able to use this amazing free app. It has its own pro and cons but still, its free and it works. That’s all the matter.