This is actually pretty simple to get going once you know how. This is a short “HOWTO use Tor on Android”
Basic problem: I want to use Tor on my phone. If you’re wondering why, perhaps my previous posts on Telstra and what they do to your traffic may be a good hint.
First of all, you’re going to want to install OrBot. It’s available from the Google Play store. There is absolutely no harm in leaving this running all the time in the background. I have found it to have zero impact on battery life of my phone (the Battery thing in settings doesn’t show OrBot at all).
With OrBot running, you now have a HTTP and SOCKS proxy available on your phone. This means you can set any app that can use a HTTP or SOCKS proxy to do their Internet access through Tor instead of directly through your Wifi or cellular network.
The Twitter client wonderfully has built in support for using a HTTP proxy. You just need to go into the Twitter app’s Settings, click “Enable HTTP Proxy”, and set “Proxy Host” to localhost and “Proxy Port” to 8118. You are now done. You can test this by disabling OrBot and then trying to refresh your Twitter stream. If it doesn’t work, then Twitter is trying to use the (not running) Tor proxy. Re-enable OrBot to be able to use your Twitter client. This “just works”.
There is pretty much no excuse not to have your phone Twitter client go through Tor. We all know that Twitter gets all sorts of legal queries for information about users. We also know that they’ve been fairly good about it, and indeed hats off to Twitter for being awesome. But… guess what? We can just ensure they don’t have any information worth handing over :)
Next step… Web Browsing. The Firefox Beta is pretty awesome. It’s fast and usable (which is exactly what you want in a web browser). This may also work with the standard Firefox browser (I’m not sure when they’ve updated it to be on par with the Firefox Beta version I’ve been using).
There is no place to specify proxy settings in the normal UI (I do hope Mozilla add this). But not to worry, Firefox on Android is built on the same base as Firefox on the desktop, so it does support it (there just isn’t a good UI).
What you need to do is go to the URL bar and go to “about:config”. This shows every little thing you can tweak in Firefox (a lot). Luckily, there’s a search bar. Search for “proxy” and modify the following settings to the following values (the = sign means “click modify and enter the value after the =”):
- network.proxy.http = 127.0.0.1
- network.proxy.http_port = 8118
- network.proxy.socks = 127.0.0.1
- network.proxy.socks_port = 9050
- network.proxy.ssl = 127.0.0.1
- network.proxy.ssl_port = 8118
- network.proxy.type = 1
- UPDATED: network.proxy.socks_remote_dns to “true” (click “toggle”)
Then head to http://check.torproject.org to check that it’s working!
This doesn’t provide you with all the features and benefits of using the TorButton in the desktop firefox, but it will stop your mobile phone provider spying on all the web sites you visit (unless they break into your phone itself).
Luckily, Android is fairly awesome and whenever you try to open a URL it can ask you what program you want to use to do that with. Guess what? Just select the Firefox you configured with Tor to open it and you’re browsing through Tor. Brilliant and easy with no need to go and “root your phone” or anything else that may turn people off from doing so.
Update: Thanks should also go to François Marier for his site that helped me get this right: http://feeding.cloud.geek.nz/2012/06/browsing-privacy-and-ad-blocking-on.html
Update: Added setting of socks_remote_dns