Tor Browser Adds Automatic Censorship Circumvention

The Tor Project has updated its flagship anonymizing browser to make it easier for users to evade government attempts to block its use in various regions.

Tor Browser 11.5 will “transform the user experience of connecting to Tor from heavily censored regions,” according to the US-based non-profit that manages the open source software.

It replaces a “manual and confusing process” which required users to manage their own Tor Network settings in order to work out how to apply a bridge to unblock Tor in their region.

As different bridge configurations may be needed to achieve this in different countries, the manual effort put too high a burden on censored users, the Tor Project admitted.

Its answer is Connection Assist, which will automatically apply the bridge configuration that should work best in a user’s specific location. Countries that have blocked the Tor Network include China, Russia, Belarus and Turkmenistan.

Volunteers in these and other affected countries are urged to apply to be an alpha tester, so feedback can be shared with the community.

For those who still prefer to manually configure their software, the Tor Project has updated its Tor Network settings to enhance the user experience.

There’s also a new HTTPS-only default mode for users, which will protect customers by encrypting traffic between their machine and the web servers it contacts.

“This change will help protect our users from SSL stripping attacks by malicious exit relays, and strongly reduces the incentive to spin up exit relays for man-in-the-middle attacks in the first place,” it said.

Although use of the Tor Browser is commonly associated with nefarious dark web surfing, it’s also a valuable tool for activists, journalists, dissidents and NGO workers operating under oppressive government regimes.

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