Onion Browser, a 99¢ TOR-based browser for iOS, provides what is likely the most secure browsing environment you’re likely to find on your iPhone or iPad. The good news is that despite a few potential security holes, it’s pretty much just as secure as connecting via the TOR network on your desktop machine. I’m guessing that there are a lot of Apple customers looking for something like this, given the news this week.
I’ve been using the app off and on since it was first released, and based on my testing it does seem to do what it claims to do. Furthermore, the developer (Mike Tigas) has been diligent about pushing security updates as needed, so the app doesn’t languish for months with giant vulnerabilities. On the downside, it’s a bit slower at browsing than what you’re used to, but that’s a necessary by-product of routing all of your traffic through a chain of geographically distant nodes.
Those familiar with TOR will be aware of the usual sorts of security risks and caveats, which continue to apply to Onion Browser. Andrew Leonard over at Salon points out that Apple requires Onion Browser to display HTML5 videos in an insecure fashion, and that the traffic is not routed through TOR. The upshot here is that you have to be careful, and you can’t expect just to download an app and be bullet-proof–but that’s true of all digital security measures, after all. With a little caution taken, Onion Browser will do a pretty good job of keeping the spooks from peering over your shoulder.