The Onion Router is the full form of what is more popularly known as the Tor browser. The reference to onion is not without reason, since this browser has several layers like onion and, more importantly, has the capability to hide your identity through obfuscating your IP address.
All content inside the browser is encrypted end-to-end and leaves no trace.
Now, the Tor browser has a new version, 8.0a9.
The Tor Project has posted a detailed blog on its site explaining what’s new with the update and what users can expect.
Some of the New Features Explained
To start with, the Tor Circuit Display has been modified to include more information following feedback from users that they get confused by the constant or unchanging display.
Some tweaking has been done to this by having an additional button that says, “New Circuit for this Site.” In the previous version, even if the user changed the identity, the Tor Circuit Display wouldn’t change; now with the change in identity, it will change.
The other improvement is connected to the TLS certificate and how they are represented in relation to the .onion sites.
If you are a regular user of the Tor browser, you will know that it has been built on the Firefox browser.
Accordingly, the way the TLS certification is done on Firefox and the new way of communicating the states has been developed.
The blog post has acknowledged the work done by Tom Ritter, a security engineer, in providing protection to the users of the Windows OS who access Tor and building the necessary sandboxing of contents.
Other Changes of Lesser Significance
The Tor browser has the feature to accommodate different languages and location-based user interfaces.
And they keep adding new locales, as and when feasible. With the new Tor browser 8.0a9 version, sv-SE, da, zh-TW and da have all been added.
The blog post by the Tor Project explains that adding more locales will depend upon the load their systems can carry and the disk space they are able to spare.
A cosmetic change they have made is with the Tor button icon. They say they have made it appear shiny on the screen.
The icons on Tor have been designed around the Photon UI that the Firefox browser has.
Alpha Version for Feedback and More Improvements
The Tor Project team has uploaded the alpha version of the new 8.0a9 Tor and has asked the users to download and get back to them with the details of bugs, if any, so that they make the changes and release the full regular version by September of this year.
They have included a number of issues which they have already identified or have been pointed out and acknowledged by them.
They also indicted what these are and how they have taken care of them.
While sending the feedback, the users have to give information on the OS their system is working on and the browser details.
After these, the user has to describe the issue being faced with a step-by-step listing of how they reached the problem. It would be of help to the developers if you can add a screenshot of the page.
Learn the Process for Each OS
If you are new to the Tor ecosystem, you might be better served by visiting the Tor Project website and going through the help documents therein.
You will find the way to download the components of Tor and how to save and add it to the apps on your device. These are listed for Linux, MacOS and Windows separately.
These are step-by-step instructions and very user-friendly.
You can also use the occasion to learn the uniqueness of the Tor browser and why you should be using it.
The objective behind this onion browser is to provide the user with some protection from prying eyes.
It has been found to be very useful by investigative reporters in sending their sensitive findings to their superiors. Law enforcement personnel also can employ Tor to communicate in privacy.
Beyond this, in reality, Tor is used by many elements involved in illegal activities so that they can never be traced back.
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