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CyberSec&AI Connected: Tor Co-Founder Discusses Online Anonymity and Encryption

Tor Co-Founder discusses a vision for a more privacy friendly internet and where we are now


Prague, Czech Republic, October 8, 2020 Avast (LSE:AVST), a global leader in digital security and privacy products, and the Czech Technical University in Prague, held the second annual CyberSec&AI Connected conference on October 8. The full day virtual event that aims to create a bridge between those specializing in AI machine learning, and cybersecurity in academia and industry. One of the many speakers was Roger Dingledine, President, Researcher, and Co-Founder of the Tor Project. The Tor Project is a privacy tool, network of people around the world and a software that lets you interact with the internet more safely. 

Dingledine focused his talk around the importance of the Tor anonymizing network and explained the importance of different privacy features that can protect users while on the internet. He began by deeper explaining the importance of understanding the threat model to protect against when looking for privacy solutions. 

Often touted as a solution for anonymity online, encryption has become a more nuanced part of a privacy and security solution. “Anonymity isn’t encryption. Using encryption is good, but someone watching your traffic can learn who you’re talking to, when you’re talking to them, how much and that’s all of the interesting details,” said Roger Dingledine. Encryption isn’t enough on its own to protect anonymity. Metadata is much more important than the contents and that’s what surveillance is all about.  

At the center of Dingledine’s talk was the encryption debate, focused on government pressure to remove encryption from specific apps. He uses the US as an example for the pressure to remove end-to-end encryption from Whatsapp similar to what Brazil faced in 2016. Once it’s removed or limited, it doesn’t mean that encryption no longer exists. By removing encryption, more information is put at risk.

Dingledine also emphasizes that not all privacy on the internet can be solved by using encryption or other anonymity tools. Alongside citizens of certain countries facing day-to-day surveillance, many countries all over the world still censor the internet. He expands on Tor’s many uses to help protect users’ freedom at both the network level and application level, such as Tor Browser, Onion Services and OnionShare. 

To support Tor’s mission, Avast has joined the Tor Project Membership Program as a Founding Member this August. Tor Project Membership Program has been created by the Tor Project, the nonprofit developers of the Tor network and Tor Browser, to allow nonprofit and private sector organizations supportive of Tor’s mission, to financially support Tor’s work. This support will increase Tor’s ability to increase their development processes to allow for more innovation and solve issues in existing products at a faster rate. 

“Avast believes that everyone, everywhere has the right to security and privacy in the digital world. We support Tor’s work to ensure that people can access and browse the web privately and freely,” said Michal Pechoucek, Chief Technology Officer at Avast.

Tor allows millions of people to protect themselves from surveillance, their online privacy, and more, making it more important than ever for Avast to support its mission. Avast joined DuckDuckGo, Mullvad VPN, Team Cymru, and Insurgo Inc. as a founding member of the Tor Project Membership Program. 

About the Tor Project:
The Tor Project is a US 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization advancing human rights and freedoms by creating and deploying free and open source anonymity and privacy technologies, supporting their unrestricted availability and use, and furthering their scientific and popular understanding. Millions of people use the Tor network and Tor Browser every day.