Tor Unveils Hardened Browser for Extra Security

by Tracy Knauer •

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The Tor project recently released the first version of its “hardened” Tor browser package. This release comes with extra security features designed to provide more privacy and protection against attacks.

The Tor browser is a special Web browser package that makes it easy to connect to the Tor network. It is designed to be portable and self-contained, meaning you can run it from a USB flash drive on multiple computers without having to install it permanently to disk.

Tor’s has long provided a traditional browser based on Firefox. On Nov. 5, however, the project introduced a variant by releasing the first edition of the hardened Tor browser. Tor expects to introduce updated versions of the hardened browser in the future. It will also continue developing its traditional, non-hardened browser editions.

The hardened browser is based on the newest code for the regular Tor browser. The main difference is that the hardened version comes with Address Sanitizer built in. Address Sanitizer is a tool that protects software against memory corruption. Memory corruption, which usually results from unintended bugs in code, can be used by attackers to take control of computers or steal data.

With Address Sanitizer baked in, the hardened Tor browser is more resistant to malicious attacks.

The Tor developers are keen to emphasize that Address Sanitizer “is not perfect.” It does not guarantee that attacks cannot occur. But it doesn’t hurt. Going forward, Tor says, it will use feedback on this new tool to help make its browser even more secure.

For now, the hardened Tor browser is available only for 64-bit Linux systems. However, Tor developers say that support for Windows and OS X may be added in the future.

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