The latest iteration of the Tor Browser series is now released, joined by a wealth of new features exciting for users.
Earlier this month, Tor unveiled the 7.0 version of the software. The first mini-update for Tor Browser 7.0 came out a week after the initial release.
Tor included important security updates when upgrading to Firefox’s Extended Support Release (also known as Firefox ESR)—the largest of which is Mozilla’s multi-process mode (e10s) with content sandbox enabled.
There’s also plenty of other enhancements to performance and security.
Tracking and fingerprinting resistance improvements are also big in Tor Browser 7.0., View-source requests, cookies and the Permissions API have been limited to a first-party URL domain. This improves tracking-related defenses.
Also included are new requirements for MacOS and Windows computers.
The new browser won’t run on non-SSE2 Windows machines anymore, and OS X 10.9 is the minimum required to run Tor Browser 7.0 for Apple machines.
SSE2 requires hardware support, so be sure to double check whether or not your processor supports this functionality.
Most processors released since 2003 do have the built-in ability to handle SSE2, but hardware over 15 years old probably does not include this feature and as such, will not run the new browser.
Tor running in a sandbox helps the browser do an even better job at blocking access to your IP and MAC addresses, but this functionality is currently only available for the Linux and MacOS versions of this release.
Windows users will have to wait a bit longer.
Smaller changes include fixing an issue where the browser would freeze due to a NoScript bug. The new version also makes the security slider window in Tor slightly larger.
Given that the new Tor Browser is built upon Firefox 52.0, it’s necessary to mention some of the improvements made from that upgrade.
The new Firefox release does away with NPAPI plugin support. It also marks the beginning of a new Firefox ESR cycle.
In order to realize all of the benefits of the Tor Browser 7.0 you should be sure to follow some simple rules.
First, it’s important to understand that Tor does not protect all of your internet traffic. It only protects applications that are properly configured to run through Tor.
Next, do not download torrents in Tor or open documents downloaded through Tor.
Torrents have been known to circumvent proxy rules, which remove any benefits of anonymity gained through Tor.
Also, documents opened can download resources through the internet which are not configured to go through the Tor Browser, leaving you exposed.
It’s also important to use the HTTPS versions of websites you visit and don’t enable or install browser plugins.
Plugins can include customized code which can remove your anonymity. While Tor does encrypt your data, it does not have any control over the final network hop to the end destination.
To be sure that this information is secure, you should only use the HTTPS versions of sites.
If used properly, the new browser promises to do a better job than ever at protecting your anonymity.
In a world where federal judges are ruling that the FBI doesn’t need to get a court order to hack your computer, advances in technology like this could make all the difference.
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