Difference between Relays and Bridges on TOR

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Jan 17, 2023 / By Securium Solutions

What is the difference between relays and bridges on Tor?

Many people do not understand what are relays and bridges.

Before getting into the topic take the following statement as a disclaimer.
We are only providing this content for educational purposes.
We will be not responsible if you get into any problem after performing any illegal activity.

Relays are the servers through which our traffic travels and helps us to maintain anonymity.
These servers can be donated by anyone who wants to help Tor Project.
There are around 6000 relays donated by people across the globe.

Bridges are also the same but there are some differences that I would like to explain to you in deep. So let’s take a brief look at its past.
First, when Tor Project was developed the developer took a decision that relays would be intended to be public as Tor Project is an open source project then it would be easier that servers would be easy to pick.
But the problem that arose here was country or any website can easily block users to serve them.
I know you didn’t get it properly but don’t worry.
See we also use Tor to avoid censorship but suppose we might get blocked easily.

Blocking can be done by two methods:

1. Block all incoming traffic: Here any country can restrict users from going into the tor. It can be done simply just by dumping all relays lists which are available on Tor Project’s official website and blocking all IPs to get into Tor.
2. Blocking all outgoing traffic: Here any website can just simply dump all relay lists and can block all incoming traffic from that IP.
Now think if both might be done then many people even anybody would not be able to serve tor as almost all surface websites don’t want to get traffic from Tor because maximum traffic may be doing illegal.
But don’t worry Tor Project came with a very amazing solution where they came with a new concept named bridges. Bridges are almost the same as relays but the difference is it is not public.

Now you may have a question then how can we use them?

To use them we have to request the Tor project to give us some bridges so that we can use them.
We can request to bridge to the Tor project in 3 ways:
1. Go to Tor project connection settings and will get an option to request a bridge.
2. Can request through the Tor project site
3. Can mail to them with a proper syntax given on their website.

We can get bridges through the above ways.

As bridges are not public then anybody including Countries and websites cannot dump them and cannot block users to use Tor. So, we can use bridges to avoid censorship or to enhance anonymity.
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Saurabh Kumar
Securium Solution Cyber Security Intern

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