Friday, October 31, 2014

Tor Browser

The Tor software protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location, and it lets you access sites which are blocked.

The Tor Browser lets you use Tor on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux without needing to install any software. It can run off a USB flash drive, comes with a pre-configured web browser to protect your anonymity, and is self-contained.
https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en#downloads

Making Connections to Facebook more Secure
October 31, 2014 at 5:00pm
It’s important to us at Facebook to provide methods for people to use our site securely. People connect to Facebook in many different ways, which is why we have implemented HTTPS across our service, and Perfect Forward Secrecy, HSTS, and other technologies which help give people more confidence that they are connected securely to Facebook.

That doesn’t mean we can’t improve yet further.

Consider Tor: Tor challenges some assumptions of Facebook's security mechanisms - for example its design means that from the perspective of our systems a person who appears to be connecting from Australia at one moment may the next appear to be in Sweden or Canada. In other contexts such behaviour might suggest that a hacked account is being accessed through a “botnet”, but for Tor this is normal.

Considerations like these have not always been reflected in Facebook's security infrastructure, which has sometimes led to unnecessary hurdles for people who connect to Facebook using Tor. To make their experience more consistent with our goals of accessibility and security, we have begun an experiment which makes Facebook available directly over Tor network at the following URL:

https://facebookcorewwwi.onion/

[ NOTE: link will only work in Tor-enabled browsers ]

Facebook Onion Address

Facebook's onion address provides a way to access Facebook through Tor without losing the cryptographic protections provided by the Tor cloud.

The idea is that the Facebook onion address connects you to Facebook's Core WWW Infrastructure - check the URL again, you'll see what we did there - and it reflects one benefit of accessing Facebook this way: that it provides end-to-end communication, from your browser directly into a Facebook datacentre.

We decided to use SSL atop this service due in part to architectural considerations - for example, we use the Tor daemon as a reverse proxy into a load balancer and Facebook traffic requires the protection of SSL over that link. As a result, we have provided an SSL certificate which cites our onion address; this mechanism removes the Tor Browser's “SSL Certificate Warning” for that onion address and increases confidence that this service really is run by Facebook. Issuing an SSL certificate for a Tor implementation is - in the Tor world - a novel solution to attribute ownership of an onion address; other solutions for attribution are ripe for consideration, but we believe that this one provides an appropriate starting point for such discussion.

Over time we hope to share some of the lessons that we have learned - and will learn - about scaling and deploying services via the Facebook onion address; we have many ideas and are looking forward to improving this service.  A medium-term goal will be to support Facebook's mobile-friendly website via an onion address, although in the meantime we expect the service to be of an evolutionary and slightly flaky nature.

We hope that these and other features will be useful to people who wish to use Facebook's onion address.

Finally, we would like to extend our thanks to Ms. Runa Sandvik and to Dr. Steven Murdoch of UCL for their kind assistance and generous advice in the development of this project.

Alec Muffett is a Software Engineer for Security Infrastructure at Facebook London.
https://www.facebook.com/notes/protect-the-graph/making-connections-to-facebook-more-secure/1526085754298237

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