Tor Browser Bundle

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The Tor Browser is a version of Mozilla Firefox that has been modified by the Tor Project for enhanced security and privacy. When you open the browser, it automatically connects to the Tor network, which encrypts and bounces your connection to the Internet around in a way that’s supposed to make it difficult to spy on you. The Tor Browser also bundles the NoScript add-on, which is designed to block security exploits that use JavaScript.

Pros

Secure browsing that’s as simple as Firefox: The Tor Browser takes 5 to 10 seconds to connect to the Tor network, but otherwise you’d never know that this browser is doing anything special. The Tor layer is pretty much transparent: Anyone looking at your screen will think you’re using Firefox. The only difference is Tor’s onion logo to the left of the address bar (Tor used to stand for The Onion Router, in reference to the vegetable’s multiple layers). Click this button for an overview of how the browser is connected to the Tor network. Or you can remove the button: Click the hamburger menu in the upper right corner, choose Customize, and drag the Tor button down from its default location.

Fully compatible with Firefox add-ons: We had no trouble getting this browser to work with a variety of Firefox add-ons. Password managers, Classic Theme Restorer, Reddit Enhancement Suite, Fakespot, Awesome Screenshot, and Enhanced Steam all worked fine.

Cons

NoScript will break some websites: A lot of the Internet relies on JavaScript to display a webpage, so NoScript’s filtering can mess up page layout or even block all content. You can selectively unblock certain elements, but this feature is not user-friendly — you may have to engage in some tedious trial-and-error. That’s likely to make some frustrated users disable NoScript, which can reduce privacy and security.

Anonymity can create localization problems: Sites like Google News rely on location detection to figure out which stories to show you, and in which language. At one point during our testing, we were presented with Germany-centric stories, in German. The day before, it was Polish. We had to scroll down to the bottom and click the “Go to U.S. Edition” link to correct this. On the bright side, these results mean that the Tor Browser is doing its job, just with certain unavoidable side effects. (You could correct the Google News issue by logging in to your Google account, but that would defeat the point of using an anonymizing browser.)

Bottom Line

Many Web browsers and other software claim to increase your privacy and security on the Internet, but it can be difficult to see which are trustworthy and effective. With the Tor Browser, we don’t see any suspicious signs and do see plenty of privacy-friendly features. The browser is free, and the project relies on donations to keep going. There are no in-app purchases, no upsells, and the developers don’t request any contact info. The browser gets updated regularly with new features and fixes. For locked-down browsing, the Tor Browser should be your go-to.

 

Explore Further

Category
Category Browsers
Subcategory Web Browsers

Publisher’s Description

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From The Tor Project:

Tor protects you against a common form of Internet surveillance known as “traffic analysis.” Traffic analysis can be used to infer who is talking to whom over a public network. Knowing the source and destination of your Internet traffic allows others to track your behavior and interests. This can impact your checkbook if, for example, an e-commerce site uses price discrimination based on your country or institution of origin. It can even threaten your job and physical safety by revealing who and where you are. For example, if you’re traveling abroad and you connect to your employer’s computers to check or send mail, you can inadvertently reveal your national origin and professional affiliation to anyone observing the network, even if the connection is encrypted.

What’s new in this version:

  • Update Tor to 0.3.0.9
  • Update HTTPS-Everywhere to 5.2.19

 

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