The Brave browser, run by former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, has announced plans to bundle Tor into its Chromium-based browser engine, with users able to open a private Tor-powered tab in private mode. A beta is now live with version 0.23 of the browser.
The Onion Router (Tor) network is a group of volunteer-operated servers that allows users to connect to websites via a distributed network of virtual tunnels.
A favourite of privacy advocates, journalists and corporations seeking to protect sensitive procurement patterns or conduct competitive analysis, Tor is typically accessed via its own Tor Browser, which can be challenging to configure correctly for novices.
Upstart browser company Brave, which recently signed a lease on a London office, is aiming to combine the browser with a blockchain-based digital advertising platform based on its BAT token. Its business model involves blocking ads – but then selling the browser habits of those users that opt-in back to advertising agencies.
Feature Still in Beta
“This new functionality, currently in beta, integrates Tor into the browser and gives users a new browsing mode that helps protect their privacy not only on device but over the network. Private Tabs with Tor help protect Brave users from ISPs, guest Wi-Fi providers, and visited sites that may be watching their Internet connection or even tracking and collecting IP addresses”, the browser team said.
The move is a play by Brave to attract privacy-conscious browsers, amid growing competition to secure that market segment. Private mode in most browsers hides nothing from your ISP; it just strips out cookies at the end of a session and deletes browser history for other desktop users.
Other browser minnows hoping for a piece of the pie include Epic, which strips out cookies and trackers after each session, with all searches also proxied through the firm’s own servers (which means there is no way to connect an IP address to a search).
Brave Browser to add Exit Node Geolocation
Firefox, which is highly customisable, also continues to add plug-ins for security and privacy-conscious users. Brave is the first to attempt to roll the Tor Browser into its own product however.
“Brave is [also] contributing back to the Tor network by running Tor relays. We are proud to be adding bandwidth to the Tor network,” the company said, adding that it welcomes developer contributions to the feature via GitHub.
Brave plans to include support to choose exit node geolocation in the future.