Tor Privacy Expert Trains Technologists in Anonymous Communications in Warsaw, Poland

Tor Privacy Expert Trains Technologists in Anonymous Communications in Warsaw, Poland

Cambridge computer security expert Andrew Lewman addresses security conference in Warsaw, Poland Thursday

by @SarahCortes - Cambridge computer security expert Andrew Lewman provided training to technologists in Warsaw, Poland last Thursday. Executive Director of the Cambridge-based nonprofit anonymous communication technology organization, the Tor Project, Lewman traveled over 4,000 miles at the invitation of the Secure Poland 2013 conference to address computer security experts, among others. Poland's NASK Research Institute and the Polish CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) organized the conference. Lewman spoke to the audience of over two hundred, advising attendees from around the world on topics in privacy, anonymous communications and other technology.

"Over the past few years, I have worked with many victims of stalking and abuse, who need to protect their online identity," said Lewman. "There's a book that's very popular in the US, by George Orwell, called 1984, about a dystopian future where the government records and controls everything. You, as a citizen, have no rights. George Orwell was an optimist," he told the audience, referring to recent revelations by Edward Snowden that the US NSA secretly conducts pevasive surveillance of US citizens, as well as non-citizens.

The conference was held at the Copernicus Science Center, steps from the site of the WWII-era Warsaw Ghetto and Warsaw Uprising. Known in Polish as Centrum Nauki Kopernik, the building overlooks the Vistula River, near the Old Town, where Warsaw was reduced between 1939 and 1945 from a population of 1.3 million to fewer than 1,000 scavengers, through Nazi deportations and hostilities, according to Israel Gutman in his book, Resistance: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The conference addressed the need for privacy tools and technology for political dissidents fighting repressive regimes that has not disappeared since then, among other topics.

The Tor Project, a global nonprofit organization with staff and volunteers in over a hundred countries worldwide, recently moved its headquarters to Cambridge. Tor operates a volunteer network of over 5,000 servers through which it routes a user's browser traffic. Proxy routing enables users to stay anonymous online. Political dissidents, law enforcement, and ordinary people around the world use Tor to protect their online identities.

Tor, now Cambridge-based, is a leader in internet privacy research and technology, best known for Tor Browser. According to, "a web browser is a software application for retrieving, presenting and traversing information resources on the World Wide Web." Other popular browsers include Internet Explorer and Google Chrome. Tor Browser, based on onion routing, invented by Dr. Paul Syverson of the US Navy in 1998, provides anonymity online. Open source and free, Tor browser and other tools are used all over the world, including in Egypt during the uprising overthrowing the Mubarak regime, and currently by political dissidents in Syria. One of the largest user groups, law enforcement click on Tor Browser when agents must hide their identity while investigating online crimes including trafficking, drug dealing, and child abuse. Victims of human trafficking may make use of privacy tools to free themselves. Targets of domestic violence and intimate partner abuse also use Tor when seeking to escape or to gather information about improving their situation.