Part of the Personal computing glossary:

The TOR (third-generation onion routing) browser is a web browser designed for encryption-protected anonymous web surfing and protection against traffic analysis.

TOR was originally developed by and for the United States Navy to protect sensitive U.S. government communications. While Tor continues to be used by government it is now an open source, multi-platform browser that is available to the public. TOR is used by reporters, activists, whistle blowers, law enforcement officials, business professionals and security-conscious individuals. 

Although TOR enhances web browsing privacy, the makers caution that users should take further measures to protect their privacy and security. TOR uses exit relays and encrypted tunnels to hide user traffic within the network, but leaves the end points more easily observable and has no effect beyond the boundaries of the network.

Although TOR is more secure than most commonly-used browsers, it is not impervious to attack. Malware, such as the Chewbacca Trojan, has successfully targeted the TOR network and browser. The FBI has also breached TOR security, in one case, for example tracking threats associated with a bomb hoax at Harvard across the network.   

This was last updated in January 2014
Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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