Many people know of Tor, and the Tor Network, as a way to preserve anonymity online. What is less known is that Tor began as a U.S intelligence communications tool, but was repurposed in 2006 by the nonprofit The Tor Project.
Since this transition, Tor has developed into a service that is used by multitudes of internet users across the globe. Tor users can download The Tor Browser, which is free and open-source, to connect to the Tor Network and browse the web, or send messages, while keeping their information private and anonymous.
Some people associate Tor with the dark web, and people who wish to browse hidden, unmonitored areas of webspace for official purposes, whether malicious or benevolent. In actuality, many people that use Tor are simply normal, everyday individuals surfing the web. The reasons behind using Tor are many: protecting against identity theft, maintaining online privacy, avoiding censorship, discussing socially sensitive information, etc.
According to The Tor Project FAQ, regular users include, but are not limited to: journalists, law enforcement officers, activists, military officials, business owners, bloggers, IT professionals, whistleblowers and many more.
Using Tor protects you against a common form of Internet surveillance known as “traffic analysis.” Traffic analysis can be used to infer who is talking to whom over a public network. Knowing the source and destination of your Internet traffic allows others to track your behavior and interests. – The Tor Project
Now, The Tor Project is expanding its functionality to include privacy for “The Internet of Things” (IoT). The Internet of Things is a term used to reference the interconnection of anything that has the potential to be connected to the internet, or that functions in a digital space.
“The Internet of Things” is the remote control and networking of everyday devices ranging from a family’s lawn sprinkler or babycam to a corporation’s entire HVAC system.” – The Tor Project
By using Home Assistant, an automation platform that runs on the programming language Python 3, Tor is incorporating privacy technology into everyday life, rather than exclusively online. In regard to the digitization of everyday tasks, jobs and items, as well as the IoT, taking measures to ensure privacy now demands attention beyond monitoring your web presence.
This project was developed by Nathan Freitas, Executive Director of The Guardian Project, which also focuses on maintaining privacy through mobile device customization and the development of encrypted mobile applications.
Too many ‘Things’ in our homes, at our hospitals, in our businesses and throughout our lives are exposed to the public Internet without the ability to protect their communication. Tor provides this, for free, with real-world hard ended, open-source software and strong, state of the art cryptography. – Nathan Freitas
It may be a while before Tor users and people browsing regularly on the Tor Browser rival the number of people using more popular web browsers like Chrome, Safari or Firefox. That said, in regard to the speed at which technology changes, the development of Tor Home Assistant may be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ensuring privacy for everything, not just your computer.
For more information check out the Home Assistant page for Tor setup, dubbed “Home Assistant Cookbook.”