When Mike Tigas first created the Onion Browser app for iOS in 2012, he never expected it to become popular. He was working as a newsroom Web developer at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, at the time, and wanted a Tor browser app for himself and his colleagues. Expecting little interest, he then put Onion Browser on the Apple App Store at just $0.99/£0.69, the lowest non-zero price that Apple allows.
Fast forward to 2016, and Tigas found himself living in New York City, working as a developer and investigative journalist at ProPublica, while earning upwards of $2,000 a month from the app—and worrying that charging for it was keeping anonymous browsing out of the hands of people who needed it.
So a few weeks ago, he made the app free. Since then, its popularity has exploded, with thousands of downloads recorded every day. The results of the recent US presidential election might have had something to do with this decision, and its impressive results, Tigas told Ars.
'Given recent events, many believe it's more important than ever to exercise and support freedom of speech, privacy rights, and digital security,' he wrote in a blog post. 'I think now is as good a time as ever to make Onion Browser more accessible to everyone.'
Jan 09, 2017 Onion Browser is the leading, community-supported Tor Web browser for iOS, but it lacks some of the features available for Tor Browser (Linux, MacOS, Windows) and OrFox (Android), due to technical. Aug 23, 2017 The Onion Browser application offers basic Tor use from iOS that you wish to get to onion URLs or have some level of upgraded secrecy with your web perusing. The most effective method to Use TOR on iPhone or iPad with Onion Browser. VPN + Onion TOR Browser combines power of both VPN and TOR network. This app ensures user privacy and anonymity throughout the iOS in VPN mode and in-app using Tor Browser. Normal internet activity.
Global concerns also influenced his decision. 'Iran is not technically a country where you can get an iPhone, but on the grey market you can,' he told Ars. 'People over there can't get apps you have to pay for, because you have to have a credit card that Apple actually accepts,' he added, noting that economic sanctions forbid Apple from selling to Iranian iOS users.
Onion Browser is the leading, community-supported Tor Web browser for iOS, but it lacks some of the features available for Tor Browser (Linux, MacOS, Windows) and OrFox (Android), due to technical roadblocks peculiar to iOS. (The Tor Project has so far declined to officially endorse an app for iOS.)
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The two biggest challenges Tor developers on iOS face, as Tigas outlined in this blog post on the Tor Project website, are Apple's requirement that all browsers use the iOS WebKit rendering engine, and the inability to run Tor as a system-wide service or daemon on iOS.
Developers have found workarounds to both problems, and iOS users can soon expect to see a new, improved Onion Browser, as well as a Tor VPN that routes all device traffic over Tor—probably in the first quarter of 2017.
Not quite as secure
Unlike the Tor or OrFox, Onion Browser is not based on the Firefox Gecko rendering engine. This is good—Onion Browser is not vulnerable to Firefox exploits—but also bad, because code cannot be reused.
A further challenge, Tigas said, is that Apple’s WebKit APIs 'don’t allow a lot of control over the rendering and execution of Web pages, making a Tor Browser-style security slider very difficult to implement.'
Many of iOS's multimedia features don't use the browser's network stack, making it difficult to ensure the native video player does not leak traffic outside of Tor.
Moreover, it doesn't support tabbed browsing, and the UX is pretty basic, but Tigas is working on a rewrite based on Endless. 'It adds a lot of important features over the existing Onion Browser,” he said, “like a nicer user-interface with tabbed browsing, HTTPS Everywhere, and HSTS Preloading. There’s a new version of Onion Browser in the works that’s based on Endless that will hopefully enter beta testing this month.'
Tor On Ios
Using Onion Browser does not guarantee security or privacy on its own. It simply provides a set of features that may enhance privacy and anonymity while browsing the web. Please remember the following...
Apple requires all web browser apps to use the same core web rendering ending, called UIWebKit or WKWebView. Due to this limitation, we are unable to compile and include our own web engine, based on Firefox Gecko, that other browsers, like Tor Browser on Desktop and Android, are allowed to do.
Onion Browser only tunnels traffic within the Onion Browser app. Please note that network traffic outside of Onion Browser is not protected and will continue to use your normal connection.
If you use Onion Browser to log into websites that you normally access outside of the Tor network, the website may be able to identify you and know that you are using Tor. In certain circumstances (e.g. political dissent in repressive nations), this may be incriminating information in itself.
Limitations in iOS
iOS has full control over some network traffic, which may result in this traffic (including audio or video embeds) routing via your normal connection and not over Tor.
Geolocation and Advanced HTML5 Features
Websites may use the HTML5 Geolocation API (to view your current GPS location) and other new HTML5 features unless 'Strict' security mode is set. Users should also remain vigilant for any pop-ups asking for permission to access location data.
Tor Browser Ios App
The Tor Project maintains a small page of tips about staying anonymous while using Tor.
Tor Onion Browser Ipad
A log of Onion Browser release notes, including previous security issues and results of previous security audits is available here. You can also see the GitHub project for a current list of known issues.