Torbutton is a 1-click way for Firefox users to enable or disable the
browser's use of Tor. It adds a panel to the statusbar that says "Tor
Enabled" (in green) or "Tor Disabled" (in red). The user may click on the
panel to toggle the status. If the user (or some other extension) changes
the proxy settings, the change is automatically reflected in the
Some users may prefer a toolbar button instead of a statusbar panel. Such
a button is included, and one adds it to the toolbar by right-clicking on
the desired toolbar, selecting "Customize...", and then dragging the
Torbutton icon onto the toolbar. There is an option in the preferences to
hide the statusbar panel (Tools->Extensions, select Torbutton, and click
Newer Firefoxes have the ability to send DNS resolves through the socks
proxy, and Torbutton will make use of this feature if it is available in
your version of Firefox.
1. I can't click on links or hit reload after I toggle Tor! Why?
Due to Firefox Bug 409737, pages can still open popups and perform
popups and redirects can be blocked, but unfortunately they are
indistinguishable from normal user interactions with the page (such as
clicking on links, opening them in new tabs/windows, or using the history
buttons), and so those are blocked as a side effect. Once that Firefox bug
is fixed, this degree of isolation will become optional (for people who do
not want to accidentally click on links and give away information via
referrers). A workaround is to right click on the link, and open it in a
new tab or window. The tab or window won't load automatically, but you can
hit enter in the URL bar, and it will begin loading. Hitting enter in the
URL bar will also reload the page without clicking the reload button.
2. My browser is in some weird state where nothing works right!
Try to disable Tor by clicking on the button, and then open a new window.
If that doesn't fix the issue, go to the preferences page and hit 'Restore
Defaults'. This should reset the extension and Firefox to a known good
configuration. If you can manage to reproduce whatever issue gets your
Firefox wedged, please file details at the bug tracker.
trying to contact its source site, thus revealing your IP address. As
CSS behavior when Tor state changes from the state that was used to load a
given page. These features are re-enabled when Torbutton goes back into
the state that was used to load the page, but in some cases (particularly
from the resulting errors, and the page is broken. Unfortunately, the only
thing you can do (and still remain safe from having your IP address leak)
is to reload the page when you toggle Tor, or just ensure you do all your
work in a page before switching tor state.
4. When I use Tor, Firefox is no longer filling in logins/search boxes for
Currently, this is tied to the "Block history writes during Tor" setting.
If you have enabled that setting, all formfill functionality (both saving
and reading) is disabled. If this bothers you, you can uncheck that
option, but both history and forms will be saved. To prevent history
disclosure attacks via Non-Tor usage, it is recommended you disable
Non-Tor history reads if you allow history writing during Tor.
5. Which Firefox extensions should I avoid using?
This is a tough one. There are thousands of Firefox extensions: making a
complete list of ones that are bad for anonymity is near impossible.
However, here are a few examples that should get you started as to what
sorts of behavior are dangerous.
1. StumbleUpon, et al These extensions will send all sorts of information
about the websites you visit to the stumbleupon servers, and correlate
this information with a unique identifier. This is obviously terrible
for your anonymity. More generally, any sort of extension that
requires registration, or even extensions that provide information
about websites you visit should be suspect.
2. FoxyProxy While FoxyProxy is a nice idea in theory, in practice it is
impossible to configure securely for Tor usage without Torbutton. Like
all vanilla third party proxy plugins, the main risks are plugin
leakage and history disclosure, followed closely by cookie theft
by exit nodes and tracking by adservers (see the Torbutton
Adversary Model for more information). However, even with Torbutton
installed in tandem and always enabled, it is still very difficult
(though not impossible) to configure FoxyProxy securely. Since
FoxyProxy's 'Patterns' mode only applies to specific urls, and not to
an entire tab, setting FoxyProxy to only send specific sites through
Tor will still allow adservers to still learn your real IP. Worse, if
those sites use offsite logging services such as Google Analytics, you
may still end up in their logs with your real IP. Malicious exit nodes
can also cooperate with sites to inject images into pages that bypass
your filters. Setting FoxyProxy to only send certain URLs via Non-Tor
is much more viable, but be very careful with the filters you allow.
For example, something as simple as allowing *google* to go via
Non-Tor will still cause you to end up in all the logs of all websites
that use Google Analytics! See this question on the FoxyProxy FAQ
for more information.
3. NoScript Torbutton currently mitigates all known anonymity issues with
all-or-nothing approach. NoScript is exceedingly complicated, and has
many subtleties that can surprise even advanced users. For example,
https, but downloads them in the clear. Not adding it to your
whitelist effectively means you are pulling down unverified
extensions. Worse still, using NoScript can actually disable
allow malicious exit nodes to compromise your anonymity via the
default whitelist (which they can spoof to inject any script they
6. Which Firefox extensions do you recommend?
1. RefControl Mentioned above, this extension allows more
fine-grained referrer spoofing than Torbutton currently provides. It
should break less sites than Torbutton's referrer spoofing option.
2. SafeCache If you use Tor excessively, and rarely disable it, you
probably want to install this extension to minimize the ability of
sites to store long term identifiers in your cache. This extension
applies same origin policy to the cache, so that elements are
retrieved from the cache only if they are fetched from a document in
the same origin domain as the cached element.
7. Are there any other issues I should be concerned about?
There is currently one known unfixed security issue with Torbutton: it is
conceal your timezone in Firefox 2, and the timezone masking code does not
work at all on Firefox 3. We are working with the Firefox team to fix one
of Bug 399274 or Bug 419598 to address this. In the meantime, it
is possible to set the TZ environment variable to UTC to cause the browser
to use UTC as your timezone. Under Linux, you can add an export TZ=UTC to
the /usr/bin/firefox script, or edit your system bashrc to do the same.
Under Windows, you can set either a User or System Environment
Variable for TZ via My Computer's properties. In MacOS, the situation is
a lot more complicated, unfortunately.
In addition, RSS readers such as Firefox Livemarks can perform periodic
fetches. Due to Firefox Bug 436250, there is no way to disable
Livemark fetches during Tor. This can be a problem if you have a lot of
custom Livemark urls that can give away information about your identity.