Stem Release 1.4


Greetings wonderful carbon-based residents of the Internet. I'm pleased to announce the 1.4.0 release of Stem!

What is Stem, you ask? For those who aren't familiar with it Stem is a Python library for interacting with Tor. With it you can script against your relay, descriptor data, or even write applications similar to Nyx and Vidalia.

So what's new in this release?

Ephemeral Hidden Services and Descriptors

Tor's release is bringing with it new hidden service capabilities, most notably ADD_ONION and HSFETCH. Ephemeral hidden services let you easily operate a hidden service that never touches disk.

This latest Tor release also brought with it the ability to retrieve a hidden service's descriptor information. Stem knows how to parse, validate, and decrypt these documents.

Faster Descriptor Parsing

When reading descriptors without validation (which is the new default), documents are now lazily parsed. This provides a very substantial speedup depending on the document's type...

  • Server descriptors: 27% faster
  • Extrainfo descriptors: 71% faster
  • Microdescriptors: 43% faster
  • Consensus: 37% faster

Prefer to keep validation? No problem! Just include 'validate = True' and
you'll be good to go.

As always this is just the tip of the iceberg. For a full rundown on the myriad of improvements and fixes in this release see...

Tor Browser 5.0a1 is released

The first alpha release in the new 5.0 series of the Tor Browser is now available from our extended downloads page as well as the distribution directory.

Tor Browser 5.0a1 is based on Firefox ESR 31.7.0, which features important security updates to Firefox.

In addition to including all of the fixes that were present in the 4.5.1 release, this alpha release also features some additional privacy defenses.

In particular, this release re-enables the automatic window resizing fingerprinting defense that first appeared in 4.5a4. This defense can be disabled by setting the about:config pref extensions.torbutton.resize_windows to false, but please first report any issues you encounter on the feature's trac ticket.

This release also introduces a new defense against various forms of performance fingerprinting and time-based side channel attacks. A handful of new attacks have been published recently that take advantage of Javascript's high-performance timers to determine hardware performance, perform keystroke fingerprinting, extract history information, and even steal sensitive data from memory. Because this defense reduces the resolution of time available to Javascript to 100 milliseconds for all time sources, and to 250 milliseconds for keypress event timestamps, we are especially interested in hearing any reports about issues with HTML5 video, animation, or game sites. Hopefully you will have as much fun testing this defense as we will!

Here is the complete list of changes since Tor Browser 4.5:

  • All Platforms
    • Update Firefox to 31.7.0esr
    • Update meek to 0.18
    • Update Tor Launcher to
      • Translation updates only
    • Update Torbutton to
      • Bug 15837: Show descriptions if unchecking custom mode
      • Bug 15927: Force update of the NoScript UI when changing security level
      • Bug 15915: Hide circuit display if it is disabled.
      • Bug 14429: Improved automatic window resizing
      • Translation updates
    • Bug 15945: Disable NoScript's ClearClick protection for now
    • Bug 15933: Isolate by base (top-level) domain name instead of FQDN
    • Bug 15857: Fix file descriptor leak in updater that caused update failures
    • Bug 15899: Fix errors with downloading and displaying PDFs
    • Bug 15773: Enable ICU on OS X
    • Bug 1517: Reduce precision of time for Javascript
    • Bug 13670: Ensure OCSP requests respect URL bar domain isolation
    • Bug 13875: Improve the spoofing of window.devicePixelRatio
  • Windows
    • Bug 15872: Fix meek pluggable transport startup issue with Windows 7
  • Build System
    • Bug 15947: Support Ubuntu 14.04 LXC hosts via LXC_EXECUTE=lxc-execute env var
    • Bugs 15921+15922: Fix build errors during Mozilla Tryserver builds

Tor Browser 4.5.1 is released

A new release for the stable Tor Browser is available from the Tor Browser Project page and also from our distribution directory.

Tor Browser 4.5.1 is based on Firefox ESR 31.7.0, which features important security updates to Firefox.

The 4.5.1 release also addresses several regressions and usability issues discovered during the 4.5 release. The most notable change is that we have slightly relaxed the first party isolation privacy property, due to issues encountered on several file hosting sites as well as other sites that host content on multiple subdomains. Tor Circuit use and tracking identifiers are now all isolated to the base (top-level) domain only, as opposed to the full domain name. This change is also consistent with the browser URL bar - isolation is now performed based on the bold portion of the website address in the URL bar.

We also have temporarily disabled the NoScript ClearClick clickjacking protection, as it was experiencing false positives due to changes in Tor Browser that cause errors in NoScript's evaluation of the content window. These issues were most commonly experienced with ReCaptcha captcha input, but occurred elsewhere as well.

With this release, 4.0 users will now be updated automatically to the 4.5 series.

Note to MacOS users: The update process for Mac OS 10.6 and 10.7 users will unfortunately not be automatic. You will be instructed to perform a manual download instead. Moreover, as of this release, 32 bit Macs are now officially unsupported. For more information, see the original end-of-life blog post.

Here is the list of changes since 4.5:

  • All Platforms
    • Update Firefox to 31.7.0esr
    • Update meek to 0.18
    • Update Tor Launcher to
      • Translation updates only
    • Update Torbutton to
      • Bug 15837: Show descriptions if unchecking custom mode
      • Bug 15927: Force update of the NoScript UI when changing security level
      • Bug 15915: Hide circuit display if it is disabled.
      • Translation updates
    • Bug 15945: Disable NoScript's ClearClick protection for now
    • Bug 15933: Isolate by base (top-level) domain name instead of FQDN
    • Bug 15857: Fix file descriptor leak in updater that caused update failures
    • Bug 15899: Fix errors with downloading and displaying PDFs
  • Windows
    • Bug 15872: Fix meek pluggable transport startup issue with Windows 7
  • Build System
    • Bug 15947: Support Ubuntu 14.04 LXC hosts via LXC_EXECUTE=lxc-execute env var
    • Bugs 15921+15922: Fix build errors during Mozilla Tryserver builds

New Project Manager and Director of Communications for Tor

Tor has hired two new people— a Project Manager and a Director of Communications—to help the group stay on track, build its user base, and explain its work to the world.

Isabela Bagueros is the new project manager at Tor. She is joining Tor to coordinate its development teams and help them define their roadmaps, keep track of priorities, and ensure that Tor is always thinking “user first” while building things.

Isabela is from Brazil, where in the late 1990s she started to play with free software; in the early 2000s, she joined the information democratization movement that was growing quickly with the increase of Internet access around the world.

Isabela has volunteered with Indymedia, SFCCP (San Francisco Community Colocation Project), and other free software/hacker collectives around the world. She worked for Brazil’s Federal Government at the Ministry of Communications digital inclusion program, and later coordinated the project to migrate Presidential Palace IT infrastructure to free software. Before joining Tor, she was a Product Manager at Twitter, where she worked for over four years on the Internationalization and Growth teams, respectively.

Bagueros says that she has been a Tor user “since I can't remember” and she strongly believes in the right to privacy and keeping the Internet free, as in “Liberdade.”

Said Tor Project interim Executive Director Roger Dingledine, “Isabela’s background in the free software community has let her get up to speed on our work really quickly, as well as adapt to our communications and development styles."

“We have many different projects going on at once, and we rely on Isabela to help prioritize and schedule them so we can keep our funders and other communities involved and informed about our progress. Not only do we value her organizational prowess, but she also has a background in helping to make technology more usable by ordinary people, so we're excited to have her play a larger role in getting Tor to a wider audience,” said Dingledine.

Kate Krauss is Tor’s first Director of Communications, where she is sharing news about Tor’s unique technical projects with the outside world.

Kate will also be reaching out to groups of human rights activists to teach them about Tor, and is studying efforts to restrict privacy in countries across the globe. She also hopes to launch Tor Journalist Camp, where journalists who cover Tor can learn about the technical workings of the Tor Network, Tor hidden services, and Tor’s many other projects—and the ideas about privacy that underpin them.

Kate was an early member of the activist group ACT UP, where she led a California statewide coalition that doubled funding for an AIDS medication fund and spurred the reorganization of the state’s HIV funding priorities. One of the first US activists to embrace international AIDS advocacy, she was a key US strategist behind the campaign to get AIDS drugs into African countries in the late 1990s.

As director of the small advocacy group the AIDS Policy Project, Kate organized successful campaigns that freed a number of human rights defenders in China. Her work also helped secure some $90 million in aid for China's HIV/AIDS programs from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria. Later, at Physicians for Human Rights, her media work supported the successful campaign to reauthorize the $48 billion President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Kate began her anti-censorship career in an anonymous art collective covered in ARTFORUM, ARTNews, and Newsweek, as Girl #1. She became interested in information security issues while helping Chinese human rights defenders who were being surveilled.

She has placed front-page articles in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and other major outlets and has written opinion pieces for the Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune, and other newspapers.

Said Dingledine, “There are so many journalists out there who are excited about Tor but don't know where to start. Having Kate helps us keep them informed and coordinated. As Tor continues to go mainstream, her communication skills are critical to helping us get there. Tor’s wide diversity of users--from civic-minded individuals and ordinary consumers to activists, journalists, and companies—is part of its security. Kate is critical to helping us reach all of these audiences at once.”

Tails 1.4 is out

Tails, The Amnesic Incognito Live System, version 1.4, is out.

This release fixes numerous security issues and all users must upgrade as soon as possible.

New features

  • Tor Browser 4.5 now has a security slider that you can use to disable browser features, such as JavaScript, as a trade-off between security and usability. The security slider is set to low by default to provide the same level of security as previous versions and the most usable experience.

    We disabled in Tails the new circuit view of Tor Browser 4.5 for security reasons. You can still use the network map of Vidalia to inspect your circuits.

  • Tails OpenPGP Applet now has a shortcut to the gedit text editor, thanks to Ivan Bliminse.

  • Paperkey lets you print a backup of your OpenPGP secret keys on paper.

Upgrades and changes

  • Tor Browser 4.5 protects better against third-party tracking. Often when visiting a website, many connections are created to transfer both the content of the main website (its page, images, and so on) and third-party content from other websites (advertisements, Like buttons, and so on). In Tor Browser 4.5, all such content, from the main website as well as the third-party websites, goes through the same Tor circuits. And these circuits are not reused when visiting a different website. This prevents third-party websites from correlating your visits to different websites.

  • Tor Browser 4.5 now keeps using the same Tor circuit while you are visiting a website. This prevents the website from suddenly changing language, behavior, or logging you out.

  • Disconnect is the new default search engine. Disconnect provides Google search results to Tor users without captchas or bans.

  • Better support for Vietnamese in LibreOffice through the installation of fonts-linuxlibertine.

  • Disable security warnings when connecting to POP3 and IMAP ports that are mostly used for StartTLS nowadays.

  • Support for more printers through the installation of printer-driver-gutenprint.

  • Upgrade Tor to

  • Upgrade I2P to 0.9.19 that has several fixes and improvements for floodfill performance.

  • Remove the obsolete #i2p-help IRC channel from Pidgin.

  • Remove the command line email client mutt and msmtp.

There are numerous other changes that might not be apparent in the daily operation of a typical user. Technical details of all the changes are listed in the Changelog.

Fixed problems

  • Make the browser theme of the Windows 8 camouflage compatible with the Unsafe Browser and the I2P Browser.

  • Remove the Tor Network Settings... from the Torbutton menu.

  • Better support for Chromebook C720-2800 through the upgrade of syslinux.

  • Fix the localization of Tails Upgrader.

  • Fix the OpenPGP key servers configured in Seahorse.

  • Prevent Tor Browser from crashing when Orca is enabled.

Known issues

  • Claws Mail stores plaintext copies of all emails on the remote IMAP server, including those that are meant to be encrypted. If you send OpenPGP encrypted emails using Claws Mail and IMAP, make sure to apply one of the workarounds documented in our security announcement.

  • See the current list of known issues.

Download or upgrade

Go to the download page.

What's coming up?

The next Tails release is scheduled for June 30.

Have a look to our roadmap to see where we are heading to.

Do you want to help? There are many ways you can contribute to Tails. If you want to help, come talk to us!

Tor is released

Tor is the first alpha release in its series. It includes numerous small features and bugfixes against previous Tor versions, and numerous small infrastructure improvements. The most notable features are several new ways for controllers to interact with the hidden services subsystem.

You can download the source from the usual place on the website. Packages should be up in a few days.

NOTE: This is an alpha release. Please expect bugs.

Changes in version - 2015-05-12
  • New system requirements:
    • Tor no longer includes workarounds to support Libevent versions before 1.3e. Libevent 2.0 or later is recommended. Closes ticket 15248.
  • Major features (controller):
    • Add the ADD_ONION and DEL_ONION commands that allow the creation and management of hidden services via the controller. Closes ticket 6411.
    • New "GETINFO onions/current" and "GETINFO onions/detached" commands to get information about hidden services created via the controller. Part of ticket 6411.
    • New HSFETCH command to launch a request for a hidden service descriptor. Closes ticket 14847.
    • New HSPOST command to upload a hidden service descriptor. Closes ticket 3523. Patch by "DonnchaC".

  read more »

Tor Cloud Service Ending; Many Ways Remain to Help Users Access an Uncensored Internet

As of May 8, 2015, the Tor Cloud project has been discontinued.

The Tor Cloud project gave people a user-friendly way of deploying bridges on the Amazon EC2 cloud computing platform to help users access an uncensored Internet. By setting up a bridge, they would donate bandwidth to the Tor network and help improve the safety and speed at which users can access the Internet.

The main reason for discontinuing Tor Cloud is the fact that software requires maintenance, and Tor Cloud is no exception. There is at least one major bug in the Tor Cloud image that makes it completely dysfunctional (meaning that users could not use this particular service to access the Internet), and there are over a dozen other bugs, at least one of them of highest priority. Probably as a result of these bugs, the number of Tor Cloud bridges has steadily declined since early 2014.

We have tried to find a new maintainer for Tor Cloud for months, but without success. There have been offers to send us patches, but we couldn't find a Tor person to review and approve them. We encourage everyone who stepped up to start their own cloud bridges project under another name ("Onion Cloud"?), possibly forking the existing Tor Cloud code that will remain available. Tor Cloud is still a good idea, it just needs somebody to implement it.

Or maybe this is a good opportunity for the community to further look into other approaches for providing an easy-to-deploy bridge or relay, like Ansible Tor or cirrus.

If people still want to help users access an uncensored Internet, there remain plenty of ways to help. For example, it's still possible to spin up an instance on Amazon EC2 or any other cloud computing platform and install a Tor bridge manually. Or people can donate to organizations that run Tor relays and bridges like or their partner organizations.

Note that discontinuing the Tor Cloud project has no effect on existing Tor Cloud instances. Whenever one of those instances was started, a template of the operating system and settings was copied, and removing the template has no effect on the copies.

Sorry for any inconvenience caused by this.

Sue Gardner and the Tor strategy project

Sue Gardner, the former executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, has been advising Tor informally for several months. She attended Tor's most recent in-person meeting in Valencia in early March and facilitated several sessions. Starting today, and for about the next year, Sue will be working with us to help The Tor Project develop a long-term organizational strategy. The purpose of this strategy project is to work together, all of us, to develop a plan for making Tor as effective and sustainable as it can be.

Sue is a great fit for this project. In addition to being the former executive director of Wikimedia, she has been active in FLOSS communities since 2007. She's an advisor or board member with many organizations that do work related to technology and freedom, including the Wikimedia Foundation, the Sunlight Foundation, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Global Voices. She has lots of experience developing organizational strategy, growing small organizations, raising money, handling the media, and working with distributed communities. She's a proud recipient of the Nyan Cat Medal of Internet Awesomeness for Defending Internet Freedom, and was recently given the Cultural Humanist of the year award by the Harvard Humanist Association.

We aim for this project to be inclusive and collaborative. Sue's not going to be making up a strategy for Tor herself: the idea is that she will facilitate the development of strategy, in consultation with the Tor community and Tor stakeholders (all the other people who care about Tor), as much as possible in public, probably on our wikis.

Sue's funding for this project will come via First Look Media, which also means this is a great opportunity to strengthen our connections to our friends at this non-profit organization. (You may know of them because of The Intercept.)

As she does the work, she'll be asking for participation from members of the Tor community. Please help her as much as you can.

I'm excited that we're moving forward with this project. We welcome Sue as we all work together to make security, privacy, and anonymity possible for everyone.

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