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HomeTechnologyThe Tor Project's new privacy-focused browser doesn't use the Tor network

The Tor Project's new privacy-focused browser doesn't use the Tor network

The Tor Project, the organization behind the anonymity web and browser, is helping launch a privacy-focused browser designed to connect to VPNs rather than the decentralized Onion network. It’s called Mullvad Browser, named after the Mullvad VPN company that’s partnering with the project, and it’s available for Windows, Mac, or Linux.

Mullvad Browser’s main goal is to make it harder for advertisers and other companies to track you across the internet. It does this by reducing your browser’s “fingerprint,” a term that describes all the metadata a website can collect to uniquely identify your device. Your fingerprint can consist of simple things like the browser and operating system you use, or more intrusive information like the fonts and extensions you have installed, and the input/output devices your browser can access .

Viewing all of these factors can easily uniquely identify you based on your fingerprint alone, without the need for cookies or other tracking technologies. There are various tools that can show how well your browser is fingerprinted, but I personally recommend EFF as it explains the results very well.

Mullvad browser looks Much like any other fork of FireFox, so you don’t have to learn a whole new way of browsing.

Image: Tor Project / Mullvad VPN

By default, the Mullvad browser makes it harder for websites to fingerprint you by masking metadata. It also Blocks third-party cookies and trackers, and comes with some pre-installed plugins to further reduce fingerprinting. (Other privacy-focused browsers, like Brave, say they block fingerprinting but come with a lot of extensions that can be identified if a site can get around their protection.)

Browsers such as FireFox, on which Mullvad Browser (and Tor Browser) are based, can be configured to have similar protection. Doing this, however, requires at least some level of technical savvy, as you have to know which switch to flip and be confident that you’ve got everything covered.

The idea of ​​Mullvad is to handle all of this for you; you can turn it on and reasonably believe you’re not particularly easy to track. “The browser was developed with Mullvad to provide more privacy options for people’s everyday browsing and to challenge current business models that exploit data about people’s behavior,” Tor Project executive director Isabela Fernandes was quoted in the release. ) words.

Just to be clear, these measures are not as useful if you are trying to evade government and law enforcement tracking, such as the NSA, FBI or parties working for other governments around the world up. For anyone with enough resources, there are other ways to track internet activity besides tracking pixels and third-party cookies.

However, most users don’t feel the need for that protection, and the fact is that it’s not convenient to get it. For all its privacy advantages, the standard Tor browser isn’t necessarily the most user-friendly, the biggest downside being that it’s often as slow as molasses, and sites built for regular web traffic don’t always play well with it. These are features of how it keeps you safe – by encrypting your traffic and bouncing it around the world – but if all you want to do is avoid creepy ads, it might be completely overkill.

According to The Tor Project spokesman Pavel Zoneff, the Mullvad browser is very similar to the Tor browser, except that it connects to the internet through a VPN instead of the Tor network. (It doesn’t have to be Mullvad’s VPN either; you can use it if you use another service you trust, or if you’ve created your own.) Mullvad Browser also doesn’t offer Tor Browser’s censorship bypass users experience, access to an onion site or service, or “circuit isolation and integration with a new identity”. But again, if you don’t know what these things are, it’s probably not a huge problem.

Mullvad browsers may still have some usability quirks not found in Chrome or other major browsers. Some sites get frustrated with certain privacy settings and don’t work properly, and if you consistently use their cookie clearing feature, you may end up having to log into the service more often. However, if you’re willing to make these trade-offs for the chance to be more private online, it might be a good place to start – though it’s worth remembering that to hide from crowds, you actually have to

became the crowd. If you’re the only one using Mullvad Browser, it’s easy to fingerprint you; if everyone else has one, it’s fine even without one.


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