Tor + Firefox + Twitter + (not rooted) Android = awesome

Update: As of October 2015, you should likely install the OrFox browser which is from The Tor Project and is a port of the Tor Browser to Android. Installing OrBot and OrFox makes browsing through Tor on an Android device easy. The rest of this blog entry is left in-tact for historical record, but as of now, look at OrFox rather than this process.

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 =
  • network.proxy.http_port = 8118
  • network.proxy.socks =
  • network.proxy.socks_port = 9050
  • network.proxy.ssl =
  • network.proxy.ssl_port = 8118
  • network.proxy.type = 1
  • UPDATED: network.proxy.socks_remote_dns to “true” (click “toggle”)

Then head to 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:

Update: Added setting of socks_remote_dns

31 thoughts on “Tor + Firefox + Twitter + (not rooted) Android = awesome

  1. I quite simply couldn’t find it when searching for plugins on my device :( I just searched for “proxy” and didn’t find anything.

    That being said, it’s also not compatible with Firefox 14 Beta. May be good for those using the non-beta Firefox though.

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  3. How was Telstra retrieving the data, wondering how pratical it would be to try filter this kind of stuff leaving the device. How was it discovered monitoring the network streams?

  4. They would have been examining the stream of bytes coming from your phone using packet inspection.

    You can only overcome this by using something like Tor. Using SSL will prevent them from seeing the content of what you’re sending/receiving but will still let them know that you’re talking to (for example) amazon, hotmail, gmail etc.

    So HTTPS everywhere is a great tool, and you should (without a doubt) use it everywhere, the only real way to deny them all this information is something like Tor.

  5. Pingback: Firefox for Android beta | AxeeTech

  6. Great post. Got it setup on my HP Touchpad running Android ICS 4.0.4 and Firefox 14 beta. Thanks so much for the article. Luv TOR.

  7. Better to change network.proxy.socks_remote_dns to “true” in firefox mobile to prevent leaking DNS requests too.

  8. I changed the settings on my Twitter app and turned off orbot to see if it’s working and it still loads my tweets, what did I do wrong?

  9. when i go to any site after inserting the vallues i get “the proxysdrver is refusing connections”. What am i doing wrong?
    Would be verry grateful for your help.

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  11. Is OrBot connected to Tor? You may be able to send a email to the developers and they may be able to provide further clues… You could try the Proxy Mobile add-on instead too.

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  13. how can I change orweb from being my default browser on my tor’d twitter. in settings it Has change defaults but it says no defaults set. just set up Firefox tor and prefer to use that over orweb. thanks in advance.

  14. @nathan – I just tried what you suggested with the latest Firefox as well as Beta – says not compatible. Please advise!

  15. Thank you very much. Phone running 4.0.4 and it OrBot didn’t work until I read your post and used Firefox and OrBot together.

  16. I’d be wary of any anonymity software that isn’t Free and Open Source software – you have absolutely no way for anyone to verify their claims.

  17. I agree open source would be nicer, but you could get the source out of the apk file. Unless you’re building your apk files from source, you would have to do this to verify any open source apps you download from the store anyway. Otherwise, there’s no way to verify they used the same source that’s available.

  18. Firefox isn’t letting me put the ones in the proxy values that use, I see it already listed under some of the settings. But it won’t let me type the ones.

  19. Why is my browser faster now?
    I was expecting a performance hit.

  20. FYI: The current best way to get Tor on Android is to install OrBot and OrFox – OrFox is the Tor Browser ported to Android by the Tor Project.

  21. Pingback: An update on using Tor on Android | Ramblings

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