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September 22, 2006, 9:36 am
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Web users worried about privacy can now use a modified version of
Firefox that lets them browse the net anonymously.
The Torpark browser has been created by a hacking group and uses
technology backed by digital rights group the Electronic Frontier
Torpark uses its own network of net routers to anonymise the traffic
people generate when they browse the web.
The browser can be put on a flash memory stick so users can turn any
PC into an anonymous terminal.
Hide and seek
The Torpark tool has been created by Hacktivismo - an international
coalition of hackers, human rights workers, lawyers and artists.
Torpark uses the Tor network of internet routers set up by the
Electronic Frontier Foundation that already has tens of thousands of
Whenever any computer connects to the net it freely shares information
about the address it is using. This is so any data it requests is sent
back to the right place.
The Tor network tries to stop this information being shared in two
ways. First, it encrypts traffic between a computer and the Tor
network of routers - this makes it much harder to spy on the traffic
and pinpoint who is doing what.
Second, the Tor network regularly changes the net address that someone
appears to be browsing from - again this frustrates any attempt to pin
a particular browsing session on any individual.
"We live in a time where acquisition technologies are cherry picking
and collating every aspect of our online lives," said Oxblood Ruffin,
one of the founders of Hacktivismo, in a statement announcing Torpark.
Mr Ruffin was at pains to point out that the anonymising abilities of
Torpark had its limitations. Data travelling between the websites
people look at and the Tor network is unencrypted and it could be
possible to identify users if they visit sites that do not encrypt
The programs making up the free Torpark download are small enough to
install on a USB flash memory stick allowing people to take the
anonymising browser with them. Before now it has been possible to
configure Firefox to use Tor and its associated identity hiding
programs but Torpark puts all these elements in one package.
Hacktivisimo said that anyone using Torpark might see a slight
reduction in their browsing speed as the package of programs connect
to the Tor network and scramble traffic.
The Torpark browser includes an clickable icon that lets people switch
between anonymous and ordinary browsing.
It may also cause frustration as the regular change of net address may
make some sites think that a new user is visiting and ask once more
for login details.
I know its OT, but some people here will find it useful.
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