TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Firefox Now Allows Anonymous Web Surfing

Firefox Now Allows Anonymous Web Surfing

Jeremy Kirk, IDG News (
Wed, 20 Sep 2006 21:04:58 -0500

Tweaked Firefox Lets You Surf Internet Without a Trace
Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service

A tweaked version of Firefox that makes Web browsing anonymous has
been released by a group of privacy-minded coders.

Every few minutes, the Torpark browser causes a computer's IP address
to appear to change. IP addresses are numeric identifier given to
computers on the Internet. The number can be used along with other
data to potentially track down a user, as many Web sites keep track of
IP addresses.

Hackers Promote Privacy

Torpark's creators, a group of computer security gurus and privacy
experts named Hactivismo, said they want to expand privacy rights on
the Internet as new technologies increasingly collect online data.

The browser is free to download at It's a
modified version of Portable Firefox, an optimized version of the
browser that can be run off a USB memory stick on a computer.

The Torpark browser uses encryption to send data over The Onion
Router, a worldwide network of servers nicknamed "Tor" set up to
transfer data to one another in a random, obscure fashion.

Internet traffic, such as Web site requests, carries information on
where it came from and where it's going. But that's muddled using Tor,
which has been endorsed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and is
hard to trace back to a source.

Encryption Still Important

One minor downside is that surfing with Torpark is slower than with a
typical browser over the same connection.

Torpark cautions that data sent from the last Tor server to the Web
site is encrypted. Since only the user's connection is anonymous,
Torpark advises that sensitive data such as username and passwords
should only be used when the browser displays a golden padlock, a sign
that a Web site is using encryption.

Torpark's user interface appears similar to Firefox with a few
changes. It shows the current IP address that would be seen by Web
sites in the lower right hand corner, and features a special "Flush
Tor" button to reset a new, random server connection.

A test of Torpark using a computer in London employed IP addresses of
servers registered in Berlin and Madison, Wisconsin.

Copyright 2006 PC World Communications, Inc.

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