Don’t Use Tor Right Now If You’re Working From Home

Don’t Use Tor Right Now If You’re Working From Home
Image: Tor

With more people staying at home and working remotely to avoid the COVID-19 outbreak, online security has become an even higher priority. Using a web browser that respects user privacy and keeps your data safe is a telecommuting necessity, but you should probably avoid using the Tor web browser for now, even though it’s one of the best ways to anonymise your web activity.

According to the Tor development team, a bug is accidentally allowing Javascript to run on webpages even when users have specifically disabled it or have the browser’s strictest settings turned on (via ZDNet). Disabling and blocking Javascript is one of Tor’s key features, but the malfunction undermines its safety and makes the browser potentially dangerous for users who rely on its anonymity since companies, government entities, and even hackers can use Javascript to find IP addresses.

A patch is currently being developed, but there’s no concrete timeline for release. In the meantime, there is a potential “nuclear option” that will forcibly stop all Javascript functionality in Tor. This will render some websites unusable, and it’s possible the Javascript bug will still occur even after attempting the fix, but it’s worth considering:

  • Open Tor, then type about:config into the URL bar and press Enter.

  • Press CTRL+F and search for javascript.enabled

  • Double-click the “javascript.enabled” row to change the “Value” column to “False.” Unfortunately, if it was already set to “False” and/or Javascript still runs after making the change, this won’t fix the issue.

Tor users should also consider using an alternate browser while waiting for the patch.

Few can match Tor’s level of anonymity, but Brave is an excellent choice for privacy, and Firefox is a close second (both Tor and Brave are built on Firefox). Even Vivaldi, Edge, and Opera have their benefits—just avoid Chrome if you’re trying to block ads, data trackers, and keep your identity obfuscated.

We also have guides for finding a VPN, password manager, and anti-malware software, all of which can help keep your devices and data safe while waiting out the coronavirus.

Speaking of which, don’t download COVID-19 tracker apps and be mindful of the numerous online scams taking advantage of the current global situation.

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