OrBot review: Surf anonymously, visit restricted sites free

When you visit a website, the website collects some information from you (whether you know it or not) mostly about your location, user agent (whether you use Firefox, Chrome, Mobile etc) and some of these are saved as cookies. If this website restricts visitors from a ‘blacklisted’ country for example, you cannot surf that website.

A workaround for this is to use proxy browsers, but most of these are designed for just desktop browsing, the most popular of which is Tor.

Tor, however has released an Android version of their app and you can find it in Google Play Store. It’s called OrBot, and it’s free.



True Anonymity for free

Many anonymizers promise anonymity, but unfortunately most or them store logs of your online identity. Tor was developed by the US Naval Research Lab to ensure anonymous web surfing (even though top US information leak by former NSA strong man Edward Snowden in 2013 cast doubts to this claim)

Anonymizes ALL traffic (requires ROOT access)

If you have a rooted phone, OrBot can be set to automatically anonymize your traffic for all apps. It could also be set to anonymize traffic for specific apps (see video review for how to).

If you want to learn how to root your phone, please read this all-encompassing guide of how to root your phone for most Android devices, or how to root Tecno and MTK phones. And if you have no idea whether your phone is rooted or not, read how to check root status.

Special proxy web browser available

OrBot also has a special proxy web browser called OrWeb. Though you won’t be needing this browser if your phone is rooted (since your default web browser is sleazy automatically configured for anonymous browsing), it comes in handy if your phone is not rooted.

Other special proxy apps can tunnel though OrBot (NO ROOT REQUIRED)

Also available for anonymous use are apps like GibberBot (an anonymous chat client), DuckDuckGo (a search engine that reaches the deep secret web far deeper than Google does), and if you want to use Firefox, a plugin for anonymous browsing is available. For anonymous tweeting, the twitter app can be configured to use a proxy address and port of localhost and 8118 respectively (also works for other apps with proxy settings)


Slower browsing

Because your traffic bounces across more hops, it’s would take longer for a packet to arrive its destination while using OrBot compared to normal proxy-less browsing, so don’t be surprised if your browsing experience is slower than you expect. However, experience has shown that using OrBot is a lot faster than using Tor desktop bundle (that one is usually frustratingly slow, trust me)

Other issues

Some sites may detect that you’re using a high anonymous proxy and also block you. Some users have reported difficulty in using Google search engine for example.

Our conclusion

Even though your identity is almost untraceable, your actions are still traceable, and useful as it may be for security testers, students restricted from some sites, those restricted based on location, you should use this app with caution. With the right usage, you can get the most out of the web.

Got questions? Or maybe you feel there are issues not covered in this article? Please leave a comment below, you’ll be glad you did.

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