Upcoming Tor Browser Changes Make Deanonymization Incredibly Difficult

Protecting Internet users against malware is one of the top priorities of the IT sector right now. Even though there is only so much that software can do, Tor and Mozilla developers are taking some extra precautions. Through several yet-to-be-revealed improvements, both teams hope to make the Tor Browser more secure, as it becomes harder for attackers to unmask users.

Exciting Changes On The Horizon For Tor And Mozilla

On paper the primary functionality of the Tor browser is to provide users with additional privacy and anonymity. In recent times, however, that has not always been the case, as law enforcement agencies carry out attacks against individual users. In most cases these agencies rely on malware to infect individual computers, allowing them to link a real person’s identity to the online alias.

According to a spokesperson, that will all be a thing of the past very soon. Tor and Mozilla engineers are working on an improved browser protocol which will make it very difficult for attackers to use these tactics. Remaining anonymous will require the browser’s connection to the network to be “tweaked correctly”, though.

At this time the foundation has been laid for these new tools, but they still have to be put together and implemented into the browser itself. The Tor browser is a modified version of Firefox, which uses Internet access to communicate with the Tor proxy. Developers want to ensure attackers would be virtually unable to compromise the Firefox side of this tool.

The FBI managed to exploit that vulnerable connection in February of 2015. Although the Bureau continues to refer to their hacking as using “Network Investigative Tools”, everyone seems convinced that malware plays a significant role in the process. In the end, law enforcement agents breached the Firefox security and forced Tor users to connect to something else other than the Tor proxy they were expecting.

Unix domain socket support will be introduced in the new browser version as well. What these sockets do is allow for two computer programs to directly communicate with one another while not requiring a network protocol. Or to be more precise, this concept will no longer require the Firefox part of the Tor Browser to have direct Internet access.

While it may seem like the developers are starting to get their ducks in a row, figuring out these complex solutions has been anything but easy. Additionally, this solution requires operating systems to support non-network communication. As things stand, the functionality is not available on Windows, although developers are working on solving that problem as well.

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