The People Who Created Tor Are Now Forking Firefox, Will That Make It Safer?

You have to be a fan of how the internet works today. In the past when it came to computer software if you wanted to change the code then you had to wait for the author of the software to do it. But now that is no longer the case. Today’s modern day programmers have taken the ethics of programmers from a distant past and they have decided to make their software open sourced. This means that if you see a software project that you want to use but it does not do everything that you need it to then you have the right to change it. In other words it is just like when you buy a car and want to change the stereo inside of it.

forking-firefox

There are a number of prominent pieces of software that come with the open source tag these days. One of the biggest projects is the one that is known as Firefox. It is a web browser that allows you to browse the internet. Another piece of software that is open source is known as Tor. For years these two projects have worked together by the Tor organization providing a plugin to the Firefox browser. If you wanted to be able to surf the internet with relative privacy then all you had to do was use the Tor button that was installed into Firefox. While not 100% fool proof it was still good enough for most purposes.

Now there are some changes being made by the people who run the Tor project. They have decided that it is not good enough for them to have just a plugin for the Firefox browser. They have decided to fork the Firefox source code so that they can make their own version. They have decided to do this for several reasons. One, they feel as if they can make a whole new browser experience by forking their own version of Firefox. An experience that they feel is safer and would benefit the end users better. The other reason why they want to fork their own version of Firefox is that they have reported that it is hard for them to make the changes that they want to within the plugin architecture. While it is a powerful set of extensions for Firefox, it is just not enough for some of the plans that the Tor organization have.

So how does this affect the end user?

The reason why this is important for the end user is because if they are consistent with all of the updates then they will be able to build a very powerful browser. The reason why it will be so powerful is because it will be one of the only browsers to be able to offer such a secure experience. When we talk about security most of the time, we are usually thinking about protecting ourselves from malware. In other words this means securing your computer from outside code that might infect it. But when we are talking about security with the new Firefox fork, we are talking about keeping outside elements from being able to track or get data from us. And security like that is just as important as the other type we talked about earlier.

But as an end user you have to remember that even though this particular fork of Firefox is focusing on keeping the user anonymous, it will also have the same updates that the normal Firefox has. In other words you will have pretty much have the same version of Firefox that the other users have but you will also have the extra anonymous features that the Tor people put into place. But you will also be at the mercy of the Tor organization when it comes to updates. They will be the one issuing it out to the people who use their browser. For the most part, all they have to do is to merge the code updates that are issued by Firefox into their version of the browser. But if they are slow to do so or do not bother then this can lead to a more insecure browser.

Now the question becomes should you change to the Tor version of the Firefox browser or should you stay with the one that you already use? The answer to that question is how do you use your browser and how much do you care about your privacy? If you are a person who just goes to the normal web sites such as Facebook then I would not worry about it too much. You are probably giving more information to Facebook then you are by using a normal Firefox browser. But if you are a person who is wary of giving out any data then you should really go with the Tor version of the browser.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

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