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TBB with filter extensions hurt your anonymity

27. May 2012

When you run the Tor Browser Bundle, which is the recommended way for using Tor, and you use the included NoScript to block JavaScript and allow only certain sites to use JavaScript or use a filter extension, that blocks advertisements, trackers or any resource like external domains, you are not as anonymous as you may like to be.

There’s a phrase that says: “Anonymity likes company.” That’s certainly true. Every Tor Browser Bundle user shares the same set of anonymity. All of them are your company. When you add extensions that block something from being loaded or you change the NoScript settings to disallow JavaScript, you stick out. The exit would be able to tell you apart from others. Someone that watches the traffic at the exit can tell you apart from others. The website that you visit can tell you apart from others. They can fingerprint you based on those changes. Considered that the exits change over time and an adversary might be unable to watch all of them, the website is most likely able to link your sessions together. When those changes are unique you can be identified personally.

NoScript is still useful, even though it has been configured to allow all scripts in the Tor Browser Bundle.

There’s a trade-off between security, privacy and anonymity. NoScript tries to achieve better security and it helps you in terms of privacy as well, since some trackers require JavaScript to work. The goal of Tor is to achieve anonymity.

Blocking trackers helps your privacy but inside the Tor Browser Bundle it hurts your anonymity.

The Tor Browser Bundle achieves security by disabling plugins like Flash and Java. It achieves privacy and anonymity by disabling plugins like Flash and not keeping data. Close the Tor Browser window and it’s gone. The included TorButton removes tracks as well when you click on “New identity.”

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4 Comments
  1. Geason permalink

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