Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Staying Anonymous with Tor: How to Specify Exit Nodes by Country

This update draws on an older article but is pared down to the basics of specifying exit nodes when routing traffic through the Tor network for people who for various reasons want to be in control of where they seem to come from. As you will be aware, Tor bounces traffic between three different nodes and randomly rotates exit points. You may prefer to appear to be located in a particular country.

By now most people are probably aware of what Tor is and what it does. If not, a good starting point is the Tor project's main page. Installing Tor is now easier than it ever was, with solutions like the Tor browser bundle for various platforms that just needs to be uncompressed, to a fully fledged customized Linux distribution that can be used as is to achieve safe and anonymous browsing. A word of caution: Always keep these up to date, never rely on one solution alone and do not get lulled into a false sense of security if you really have something to loose. Several layers are better than one. For example, you might want to consider using a VPN, or even just a browser extention, at the same time and turn off plugins that give away information if they are active, Adobe Flash in particular.
For Android users there is Orbot in the official Google Play store. All of these have taken out a lot of the initial configuration steps like setting up a proxy server and adding a control panel that used to be distributed separately and made the install easy by offering an all-in-one package. Orbot for example also provides private messaging services and is not just for browsing but can route your entire network traffic. But going in to the particulars of Tor and all these different solutions is way beyond the scope of this post. So let's get to it.
Be aware that not all websites will load and some forums or comments sections will not post your comment if they detect the Tor network.

1.) We can specify either a country or certain servers, one or many, within the country we want. A good starting point are these pages: https://torstatus.rueckgr.at/tor_exit_query.phphttps://torstatus.blutmagie.de/https://torstatus.rueckgr.at/index.php?SR=DirPort&SO=Asc. The last one also provides us with an IP address check.

Go to “Advanced Query Options”. Under “Require Flags” choose “Yes” for “Exit” and under “Advanced Search” choose “Country Code” “equals” “CountryWeWant”, for example "us" or "de". Adjust for your needs - you'll need the proper ISO country code for this.

Click “Apply Options”. Take note of all or some of the Router Names of the resulting servers. These are your exit nodes. It's best to write down several and use the ones offering higher bandwidth first. Be sure to have at least three or four in your file as servers can come and go.

2.) Open and edit your torrc Tor configuration file. Scroll all the way to the bottom and enter the following lines:
StrictExitNodes 1
ExitNodes ...
i.e.
ExitNodes comma separated list of servers: server1, server2, etc.
If a line starting with “ExitNodes” already exists, then overwrite the line with your new exit nodes.

If you do not care for only using specific routers but are happy with any within a particular country then use

ExitNodes {us}

with whatever country codes in brackets.

3.) Configure any network services/apps you wish to use Tor for outgoing traffic to point to the correct port if not already set up by default. Launch your browser of choice and configure it to use your local proxy server, normally '127.0.0.1' using port '8118'.

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