Tor, which was originally popular only among computer nerds, has gained a lot of public attention because it has been used to host online black marketplaces like the Silk Road and others hidden sites.
As far as the latest news regarding Tor is concerned, the Tor Project is extending an-all out support to Apple, the tech giant, which is currently fighting an encryption battle with the FBI.
Apple’s Encryption Battle with FBI – The Background
Over the latter half of February, the tech giant, Apple, has been locked in a challenge with the FBI over a court order that requires it to unlock an iPhone 5c that was in possession of one of the San Bernardino shooters.
The company was asked to provide the requisite technical assistance to the investigators involved in the case.
However, on the day the order came out, Tim Cook, Apple CEO, wrote to his customers that the company will not be complying with this unprecedented order from the FBI.
This action, he believed, would be amounting to asking the engineers who were responsible for the encryption (that the device provided) to weaken the security of the same device.
He also reiterated that this act would set up a dangerous precedent in that customers’ data would be put at risk and be available to criminals for cyberattacks.
Google CEO, Facebook and Twitter came out in support of Tim’s statement on the encryption issue.
The Tor Project also came out in full support of the stand taken by Apple on the iPhone 5c encryption case.
Tor developer Mike Perry in his blog post noted that the entire community of the Tor developers and members of the project stood by Apple’s view to defend the strong encryption and not allow any pressure from the government’s side to weaken the same.
He used this occasion to congratulate the company’s commitment to protect the privacy of its users.
In the context of these developments, the Tor Project developers assured users that they would never give anyone a backdoor entry into their software.
This software helps users to surf the net anonymously.
The identities and locations of the users (from where they log in) are effectively masked.
To make this commitment effective, the software employs multiple levels of security with a view to prevent governmental agencies and others from using Tor for purposes of surveillance.
This was the precise reason why the Tor browser was made with an open source code.
This makes the software widely available and eliminates single points where compromise may take place.
This is because the users can create their own versions or clones that are identical to the software.
The updates that are thus created are effectively secured (using HTTPS encryption) by anonymously downloading them on the Tor network.
They are thereafter pinned using HTTPS certificates.
These acts ensure that the user updates are legitimate versions.
To further increase the security, the software uses cryptography at the software package level.
This protects the software from receiving malicious updates that would place users’ identities at stake.
There are several security levels that the updates have to pass through to be certified as legitimate.
Tor developer Mike Perry added that users’ privacy is worth fighting for in an age when people have very little control over their personal information.
He went on to say that many of his co-developers would rather resign from their jobs than allow any backdoor entry into their software package that put users at risk.
He also added that the company would soon come out with an official statement in this connection.
Tor Software and Vulnerability
It is interesting to note that the security of Tor was breached in the early part of 2014 by researchers of the SEI (Software Engineering Institute) of the Carnegie Mellon University.
This was done by tampering with user traffic and by using relays. However, the developers claim that this vulnerability was patched up as soon as it was noticed.
They also insist that Tor remains the most secure method by which users can protect their identities as well as their privacy when surfing the net or when communicating online.
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