Sub-menu: Countermeasure

The countermeasure sub-menu of TorBox v.0.3.1
The countermeasure sub-menu of TorBox v.0.3.1

The primary purpose of this sub-menu is to offer a simple way of using bridges. Bridges circumvent censorship, eg., on networks where Tor guard nodes and Tor connection handshakes are blocked. They are providing an entry to the Tor network. Additionally, the implementation of pluggable transports makes it possible to disguise Tor traffic in such a way that an ISP, network, government, or other censors cannot detect the use of Tor. The traffic then looks like http or another protocol. TorBox currently supports only OBFS4, because it is to date the most effective transport to bypass censorship. We are looking forward to add meek-azure in one of the next TorBox releases.

The activation of the bridge support is a three-step process:

  1. Toggle the bridge mode from off to on (menu entry 2).
  2. Activate already configured bridges or add new bridges (menu entry 4 and 5).
  3. Restart Tor (menu entry 9). After restarting Tor, the process to build circuits could last for several minutes, depending on your network and the contacted bridge server! In the end, you should see “Bootstrapped 100% (done): Done”

There are already several Bridges ready to use in TorBox (see them with menu entry 3). Nevertheless, you probably have to add additional bridges. You have three ways to obtain bridge-addresses:

  1. Let TorBox catch and add a new bridge automatically (menu entry 4). Because we do not want to overload the Tor Bridge database unnecessarily with requests, this function only returns one bridge every 24 hours.
  2. Get them manually direct from the Tor Bridge database (chose “Advanced Options”, “obfs4” and press “Get Bridges”)
  3. Via email to [email protected], using an address from Gmail or Riseup with “get transport obfs4” in the body of the mail.

In the following, we look at all menu entries one by one:

  • Menu entry 1: All about bridges – read me first: This brief introduction is intended to help new users, in particular, understand and simplify the use of the Bridge feature within TorBox step-by-step. It is a summary of what has been written above.

  • Menu entry 2: Toggle Bridge Mode: You either can switch the bridge mode on or off. Activating the bridge mode is the first step of using bridges. With the bridges already included, you should at best be able to connect to the Tor network immediately after restarting Tor (menu entry 9). Otherwise, more bridges have to be requested and added (menu entry 5). Deactivating the bridge mode automatically restarts Tor.

  • Menu entry 3: List all xy bridges: This menu entry is quite self-explanatory. Each line is one Bridge and is listed as Number: IP:Port Fingerprint. If you are able to contact Tor’s bridge database, then the status of the Bridge is also displayed. There are three possible states: online, offline, or doesn’t exist. You can even lookup for more information with the Relay Search Tool on the Tor Metrics with the fingerprint of a bridge.

The elements of a bridge address
The elements of a bridge address

  • Menu entry 4: Add additional bridges: Another quite self-explanatory menu entry. Bridges can either added automatically (one bridge every 24 hours) or manually. If manually added, the input box takes only one bridge address at a time. In other words: if you want to add three bridges, then the input box appears three times. If you want to add several bridges at once, then select menu entry 8.

  • Menu entries 5-7: With these menu entries, you can manage your bridges by either activate, deactivate or remove them in three ways: all, based on a specific status of the bridge or only selected. For example, you could activate all bridges, deactivate only the offline ones, and remove bridge #3 and #5. The number is based on the list of bridges (menu entry 3).

An example of a list of bridges.
An example of a list of bridges.
  • Menu entry 8: Enter the advanced configuration editor: This loads the Tor configuration file into a textual editor. You should know what you are doing before you change anything in the configuration file — here, you can break your TorBox. If you are unsure, then contact us. Did you something wrong? You can always overwrite this configuration with the default one, stored in ~/torbox/etc/tor/. After changing the configuration, use the following commands in the editor: CTRL-O followed with an ENTER to save the changes. CTRL-X to exit the editor.

  • Menu entry 9: Restart Tor – check if it is working: Activating the bridge mode doesn’t automatically restart Tor. After configuring your bridges (if necessary) and activating them, you have to restart Tor with that menu entry — that’s the final step. Please be patient! It can take up to 5 minutes for Tor to be ready for connections. Press CTRL-C to leave the log.

    This menu entry can also be used as a troubleshooter, regardless of the bridge mode. This could be nescessary, i.e., if Tor doesn’t work as expected and therefore you want to restart it. If you want only to check the log file without restarting Tor, then use menu entry 3 in the main menu.
The advanced configuration editor
The advanced configuration editor

  • Menu entry 10: Countermeasure against a disconnection when idle feature: Certain Internet provider (usually at airports, in hotels, coffee houses, etc.) disconnect the network connection after a particular time of inactivity. In this case, the Tor statistics (main menu entry 1) no longer shows any data transfer. Usually, after about 15 seconds, errors in communication with the Tor network appear. This menu entry activates / deactivates a recurring Ping to to prevent disconnection by an Internet provider with an activated “disconnect when idle feature”.

• • •

Problems and questions

  • Can I use TorBox and VPN together? –> see here.
  • I’m connected to a public wireless network; everything works as expected. However, every x minutes, the connection to the wireless network stops completely, and I have to repeat the entire login procedure. What could be the reason? –> see here.