Brussels / 2 & 3 February 2019


The Current and Future Tor Project

Updates from the Tor Project

In this talk I'll take you on a tour of the Tor landscape, starting with a crash course on Tor, how it works, and what security it provides. I'll explain why Tor's open design and radical approach to transparency are critical to its success, and then compare the censorship circumvention arms race to the nation-state surveillance arms race. We'll end with a discussion of onion services, which are essentially an even stronger version of https, but which you might instead know from confusing phrases like "the dark web".

Tor is a free-software anonymizing network that helps people around the world use the Internet in safety. Tor's 8000 volunteer relays carry traffic for millions of daily users, including ordinary citizens who want protection from identity theft and prying corporations, corporations who want to look at a competitor's website in private, people around the world whose Internet connections are censored, and even governments and law enforcement.

This past year has seen many changes to the Tor world:

  • Major browsers are working on Tor integration so their private browsing modes will provide actual privacy.

  • We have a new Tor Browser for Android that brings the same browser-level protections as we have on desktop.

  • Major institutions like the Toronto Public Library are piloting Tor Browser deployments on all of their computers.

  • We have a growing and diverse relay community---which needs your help.

  • Recent Tor Browser updates include major usability improvements, both for initial user experience and for users in censored environments.

  • We've done trainings in many interesting countries to help vulnerable populations use the internet more safely.

  • The anti-censorship arms race has moved forward, with China's further crackdown on VPNs vs the design of new pluggable transports to get around blocking.

  • We've seen new and novel attacks by nation-states to try to block Tor connections or degrade its security.

  • We've deployed the new v3 onion services, which offer improved security, and companies like Facebook and Cloudflare are adopting them.

  • New research on privacy-preserving measurement has let us gather statistics that we had previously been unable to safely observe, including a new estimate that the Tor network has 8 to 10 million daily users.

  • And last but not least, we have a new executive director for the non-profit organization.


Photo of Roger Dingledine Roger Dingledine