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Guardian Project (software)

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Guardian Project
MottoPeople, Apps and Code You Can Trust[1]
Type of projectResearch and development, Open-source software, Encryption software, Mobile security, Internet privacy
FounderNathan Freitas
Established2009 (2009)

The Guardian Project is a global collective of software developers, designers, advocates, activists, and trainers who develop open-source mobile security software and operating system enhancements.[2] They also create customized mobile devices to help individuals communicate more freely and protect themselves from intrusion and monitoring. The effort specifically focuses on users who live or work in high-risk situations and who often face constant surveillance and intrusion attempts into their mobile devices and communication streams.


Founder Nathan Freitas speaking at the Unlike Us conference in 2013[3]

Guardian Project was founded by Nathan Freitas in 2009 in Brooklyn, NY.[4][5][6] Since it was founded, Guardian Project has developed more than a dozen mobile applications for Android and iOS with over two million downloads and hundreds of thousands of active users. It has also partnered with prominent open source software projects, activists groups, NGOs, commercial partners and news organizations to support their mobile security software capabilities.

In November 2014, "ChatSecure + Orbot" received a top score on the Electronic Frontier Foundation's secure messaging scorecard, along with Cryptocat, TextSecure, "Signal / RedPhone", Silent Phone, and Silent Text.[7] "Jitsi + Ostel" scored 6 out of 7 points on the Electronic Frontier Foundation's secure messaging scorecard. They lost a point because there has not been a recent independent code audit.[7]

In March 2016, Guardian Project announced a partnership with F-Droid and CopperheadOS with the goal of creating "a solution that can be verifiably trusted from the operating system, through the network and network services, all the way up to the app stores and apps themselves".[8][9]


Guardian Project has received funding from Google, UC Berkeley with the MacArthur Foundation, Avaaz, Internews, Open Technology Fund, WITNESS, the Knight Foundation, Benetech, ISC Project and Free Press Unlimited.[10]

Through work on partner projects like the Tor Project, Commotion mesh and StoryMaker, the Project has received indirect funding both from the US State Department (through the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Internet Freedom program) and from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (through HIVOS).



  • Orbot: A Tor client for Android. Tor uses Onion Routing to provide access to network services that may be blocked, censored or monitored, while also protecting the identity of the user requesting those resources.[11] Often Orbot is installed with orWall,[12] an app which takes the lead on the firewall and then add the required iptables rules for traffic shaping in order to allow Orbot traffic, and force the selected applications to be redirected to the Orbot TransPort. Instead of Orbot, AFWall+, available on F-Droid and Google Play app repository, is an alternative choice recommended for re-routing outbound traffic back through the local Tor port, even with iptables rules,[13] and with a virtual private network like OpenVPN. Finally, NetCipher SDK is the app developed by Guardian Project for users interested in enabling theirs apps working directly with Orbot (and thus with Orfox Tor browser).[14]
  • ChatSecure: An instant messaging application integrated with the Off-the-Record encrypted chat protocol. Formerly called Gibberbot,[15] the app is built on Google's open-source Talk app and modified to support the Jabber XMPP protocol.[11]
  • ObscuraCam: A secure camera app that can obscure, encrypt or destroy pixels within an image. This project is in partnership with WITNESS, a human rights video advocacy and training organization.[11]
  • Havenfree and open-source Android security application designed to monitor activity happening around a device using its built-in sensors, and to alert the device owner of such activity. Co-developed with Edward Snowden under the auspices of the Freedom of the Press Foundation.[16]


  • Orfox: A mobile counterpart of the Tor Browser. Guardian Project announced the stable alpha of Orfox on 30 June 2015. Orfox is built from Fennec (Firefox for Android) code and the Tor Browser code repository, and is given security hardening patches by the Tor Browser development team. Some of the Orfox build work is based on the Fennec; F-Droid project.[17] In Orfox, the project removed the WebRTC component, Chromecast connectivity, app permissions to access the camera, microphone, contacts (address book), location data (GPS et al.), and NFC.[17][18] Orfox was to supersede the Orweb browser project,[17] and has in turn been superseded by the Tor Browser for Android.[19]
  • Orweb: A privacy enhanced web browser that supports proxies. When used with Orbot, Orweb protects against network analysis, blocks cookies, keeps no local browsing history, and disables Flash to keep the user safe.[11]
  • Ostel: A tool for having end-to-end encrypted VoIP calls.[20] This was a public testbed of the Open Secure Telephony Network (OSTN) project, with the goal of promoting the use of free, open protocols, standards and software, to power end-to-end secure voice communications on mobile devices, as well as with desktop computers.[11] This was discontinued in 2017.[21]


Guardian Project offers downloads of its apps from Google Play, Amazon Appstore, Aptoide, directly from their website, and through an F-Droid-compatible repository.[11][22] Direct downloads are signed and can be verified with the developer's key.[23]


  1. ^ "About Guardian Project".
  2. ^ Thomas Lowenthal (19 April 2011). "For paranoid Androids, Guardian Project offers smartphone security". ArsTechnica.com. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  3. ^ "Unlike Us | Nathan Freitas – 'Checking-In' for the Greater Good".
  4. ^ Nathan Freitas Tweet on X
  5. ^ Nathan Freitas (20 March 2009). "Nathan Freitas on Guardian". YouTube.com. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  6. ^ NANCY SCOLA (31 March 2011). "Guardian Project: Building Mobile Security for a Dangerous World". TechPresident.com. Archived from the original on 24 December 2012. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Secure Messaging Scorecard. Which apps and tools actually keep your messages safe?". Electronic Frontier Foundation. 2014-11-04. Archived from the original on 2016-11-15. Retrieved 2015-01-14.
  8. ^ "Copperhead, Guardian Project and F-Droid Partner to Build Open, Verifiably Secure Mobile Ecosystem".
  9. ^ "Announcing CopperheadOS Crowdfunding".
  10. ^ "Partners and Funding".
  11. ^ a b c d e f Guardian Project. "Secure Mobile Apps". GuardianProject.info. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  12. ^ "orWall Official Site". Archived from the original on 2018-09-03. Retrieved 2018-03-22.
  13. ^ "No more "Root" features in Orbot... use Orfox & VPN instead! – Guardian Project". guardianproject.info. Retrieved 2018-10-03.
  14. ^ Netcipher on github.com URL Retrieved March 22, 2018
  15. ^ Nathan Freitas (24 October 2013). "ChatSecure v12 Provides Comprehensive Mobile Security and a Whole New Look". GuardianProject.info. Archived from the original on 7 September 2018. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  16. ^ "Snowden-Backed App 'Haven' Turns Your Phone into a Home Security System". Wired.
  17. ^ a b c n8fr8 (2015-06-30). "Orfox: Aspiring to bring Tor Browser to Android". Guardian Project. Retrieved 2015-07-11.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  18. ^ Long, Jacob (2015-07-01). "Orfox Is Guardian Project's Latest App For Bringing The Tor Browser Experience To Android, First Alpha Release Is Available". Android Police. Illogical Robot LLC. Retrieved 2015-07-21.
  19. ^ "Orfox Paved the Way for Tor Browser on Android". The Tor Project. 2019-09-03. Retrieved 2022-03-14.
  20. ^ "Ostel OSTN". Archived from the original on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
  21. ^ "Ostel.co is permanently offline". Guardian Project. Retrieved 2021-12-27.
  22. ^ Hans-Christoph Steiner (30 June 2014). "New Official Guardian Project app repo for FDroid!". Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  23. ^ "Signing Keys". Guardian Project. Retrieved 19 September 2014.

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