Tor is a tool that allows users to access the internet anonymously by routing data through a network of thousands of relay servers run by volunteers, making it harder for governments, businesses, or anyone else to track individual users.
It can be used by political dissidents to shield their communications from oppressive governments, by criminals to hide their illegal activity, or by privacy advocates to just cut down on tracking.
Setting up and using Tor used to be complicated. But these days it’s about as simple as installing the Tor browser, which is a modified version of Firefox.
This week Tor Browser 8.0 was released, with a number of improvements that make the browser faster and easier to use.
Tor Browser 8.0 is the first stable version of the web browser to be based on Firefox 60 ESR, which means it’s the first to use Firefox Quantum multi-process technology for speedier performance and improved stability.
The Tor developers have also simplified the setup process, making it easy to connect to the Tor network quickly or to use a proxy if you’re in a country that blocks Tor. Once you’re up and running, there’s a new guide that explains what Tor is and how it works.
You can also open the Tor Network settings at any time to adjust your settings, and if you are in a country where Tor is blocked, it’s now easier to connect to the network by solving a captcha to get a bridge IP.
Tor Browser 8 also adds support for additional languages and includes under-the-hood updates to Tor, OpenSSL, and other components including the NoScript and HTTPS Everywhere browser plugins that come pre-installed.
One thing to keep in mind is that surfing the web using Tor Browser might grant you a bit more anonymity than you’d get using a different browser… but the experience is also noticeably slower: in my experience most web pages take longer to load in Tor than they do in Firefox or Chrome.
Your browser history is also deleted after you exit the browser, which is good for privacy but inconvenient if you want your browser to remember your history and other information.