Recently, the Microsoft Defender anti-malware program erroneously flagged versions of the Tor Browser as potential threats, creating concern among its users. The issue was rooted in the perception of the tor.exe file, updated recently, as a possible Trojan.
The alarm proved to be a false positive, a technical glitch where benign software is mistakenly identified as malicious by the antivirus system. To address the error, the Tor Browser team reached out to Microsoft, who then reviewed the submitted files.
Microsoft confirmed that the flagged files “do not fit our definitions of malware or unwanted applications” and consequently, the detection was removed. For users who still encountered this false positive, Microsoft has provided a detailed set of instructions to apply updates and clear the earlier flags. For individuals willing to implement the updates manually, the latest definitions are made readily available by Microsoft.
Microsoft Defender's misstep also had repercussions on Virus Total, an online service that aggregates many antivirus products and online scan engines to check for viruses, which had detected similar warnings.
User Feedback and Tor Response
While the anomaly was eventually solved, Microsoft Defender users did express disappointment that a preliminary check, like one conducted through Virus Total, was not implemented. They believed such a standard safety practice could have anticipated and avoided such a scenario.
Reacting to the criticisms, a representative from Tor clarified that the organization currently has no standard procedure for uploading files to Virus Total prior to release. However, the latest database (version 1.397.1910.0) no longer flags Tor Browser's tor.exe as a Trojan.
In case users noticed their Tor Browser to be unresponsive, the company suggested following the provided set of instructions, reminding users to verify the signature prior to installation. The red-flagging incident highlights the importance of rigorous safety measures prior to releasing software updates.
Tor Browser is a web browser that allows you to browse the internet anonymously and securely. It uses a network of volunteer servers called Tor relays to hide your identity and location from anyone who might be watching your online activity. Tor Browser also blocks trackers, ads, and scripts that can compromise your privacy or security. Tor Browser is based on the Firefox browser, but with some modifications and extensions to enhance your privacy and security.