Tor Browser 5.5a4-hardened is released
We are pleased to announce the first release in our new hardened Tor Browser series. The download can be found in the 5.5a4-hardened distribution directory and on the download page for hardened builds.
For now this is for Linux 64bit systems only but we are thinking about supporting OS X and Windows in the future as well. As always, these builds are fully bit-for-bit reproducible.
The hardened series is built on top of the regular alpha series: it contains all the changes of the latter and further hardening, mainly against exploitation of memory corruption bugs. To this end Tor and Firefox are compiled with Address Sanitizer enabled (Tor even ships with another checker, the Undefined Behavior Sanitizer).
This additional hardening helps in two ways:
- It helps identifying issues earlier allowing us to develop and backport fixes to the regular alpha and stable series.
This hardening comes with some downsides: these builds are slower than regular builds, and consume more memory. And, above all, they are considerably larger than alpha or release builds. That's why we decided to make another big change for this new series: there will only be one bundle shipped supporting all the languages found in alpha builds. Tor Launcher should help selecting the desired locale during the first start taking the operating system locale into account.
Our initial hope was to use SoftBounds+CETS (or SafeCode), which do not have the weaknesses of Address Sanitizer, but these projects are not mature enough to compile Tor Browser (or Firefox, for that matter). We are actively exploring other hardening options, as well, and are happy to hear more suggestions.
We're especially eager to hear reports and stack traces from any crashes experienced in these builds, as they may be evidence of potentially exploitable memory issues that have not been detected in our normal builds! Advanced users may find these GDB instructions useful for this, but even the plain Address Sanitizer crash output should still be helpful.