Browsing anonymously can be a smart decision for a variety of reasons. If you live in a country where it’s illegal to visit Web sites that take a stance in disagreement with the government, for instance, you might not want that activity traced back to you. If you’re participating in a study about the long term effects of depression on you ability to function in the workplace, you might not want your employer to draw a parallel between you and the study for fear of termination. Military personnel stationed in a hostile country might need the ability to communicate without drawing attention to their location when every network packet in a particular geographic area is being closely scrutinized. Depending on who you are, these scenarios might seem a little out of touch – I’ll never be in any of those situations, you might be thinking to yourself. What about companies using marketing data like geo-location to mine your information; that’s not necessarily a desirable intrusion. Or maybe you want to download a file, but aren’t certain of the consequences long term. I’ll bet everyone named in a file sharing lawsuit wishes they had downloaded anonymously. Tor provides online anonymity for browsing, sending instant messages, emailing and downloading through a system called onion routing, which anonymously connects your computer to the information you are trying to get at the other end by routing your Web requests through a sequence of servers that don’t individually know what information is headed where. The result is you get the information you want, while the traffic analysis tools have no idea where you are located. Tor plugs into a browser like Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox, providing configurable anonymity for everything you do online. Don’t count on this to be a painless experience though; configuring Tor is not without its complications. Browsing is also slowed down from the experience of directly connecting your machine to any given point online. The tradeoff is not having people know where your data is coming from or where it’s going. While anonymity can’t protect you from making stupid mistakes or infecting your computer with a virus, it provides an Internet experience free from snoops who want to know where information originates.