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Tor browser gets a range of privacy-enhancing improvements

(Image credit: Tor)
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The Tor Project (opens in new tab) has released the latest major update to its Tor Browser (opens in new tab) which now displays V2 onion warnings and makes bypassing censorship easier thanks to the inclusion of a new way to create Bridges.

As reported (opens in new tab) by BleepingComputer, the makers of the popular anonymous browser (opens in new tab) announced last year that they would begin moving away from URLs that use onion service version 2 in favor of those that use onion service version 3. This is because Tor's new V3 URLs use cleaner code, have more robust cryptography and are less susceptible to brute-forcing (opens in new tab) due to their longer URLs.

In its announcement (opens in new tab), the Tor Project said that it would begin deprecating V2 URLs by first warning onion service operators and clients. Then beginning on July 15 of this year, Tor will no longer support V2 URLs and support for them will be removed from the browser's codebase before a new stable Tor client that disables V2 URLs completely is released in October.

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Now though to ensure that website admins are aware of the move from V2 to V3 URLs, Tor will display a message when visiting sites that are still using V2 URLs warning that they will soon be deprecated and the site will soon be unreachable unless they are upgraded to onion service version 3.


(Image credit: Tor Project)

Bridges made easy

In order to bypass government and ISP censorship in more restrictive countries, Tor allows users to utilize Bridges (opens in new tab) which are relays that are operated by volunteers and aren't added to the public Tor directory.

To help users more easily bypass censorship in Tor version 10.5, the Tor Project now allows them to create Bridges using the Snowflake proxy network (opens in new tab). What sets Snowflake proxies apart from other Tor Bridges is the fact that they can be created by simply installing an extension in either Chrome or Firefox. This way more people can create bridges to help those in restrictive countries bypass government censorship.

The Tor Project provided further details on how the Snowflake proxy network can be used in its browser in a censorship FAQ (opens in new tab) on its site, saying:

“This system is composed of three components: volunteers running Snowflake proxies, Tor users that want to connect to the internet, and a broker, that delivers snowflake proxies to users. Volunteers willing to help users on censored networks can help by spinning short-lived proxies on their regular browsers. Snowflake uses the highly effective domain fronting technique to make a connection to one of the thousands of snowflake proxies run by volunteers. These proxies are lightweight, ephemeral, and easy to run, allowing us to scale Snowflake more easily than previous techniques. For censored users, if your Snowflake proxy gets blocked, the broker will find a new proxy for you, automatically.”

Existing Tor users can use the browser's auto update feature to upgrade to version 10.15 while new users can download it here (opens in new tab).

Via BleepingComputer (opens in new tab)

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.