Anonabox - A Router Sending All Your Traffic Through Tor Raises $600.000 on Kickstarter Within 3 Days
Here is one Kickstarter project for privacy and security-minded folks, war journalists, investigative journalists, activists, opposition, and anyone who thinks he might get on the surveillance radar. The project is called Anonabox and it is a router that sends all your traffic through Tor - you just plug it in and from that moment every single program on your computer communicates with the Internet through Tor. You do know your browser is not the only program that connects to the Internet, right? The moment you turn on your computer, a variety of apps and tasks start sending and receiving data even before you launch the first program after you see the desktop. Antivirus programs would be the first, and a host of other reports and packages follow.
We covered Tor previously, and if we assess the information publicly available, there really is no security solution that has a clean reputation. Tor has been one of the major anonymizing tools for activists and criminals alike. Even Edward Snowden uses Tor, and once he even gave an interview with Tor on his laptop being a background. And so, Tor became more known to users who do not have enough technical expertise to handle Tor the right way, and truth be told, the software comes with a steep learning curve while ignorance can compromise your security here.
Later, rumor emerged stating that Tor might be a CIA-run project, which was backed up by the fact that Tor creators previously were on contract with the US-military. Moreover, Edward Snowden-related revelation suggested NSA is marking users (browser fingerprinting) who browse and visit Tor-related websites and forums. So, the information field concerning Tor is pretty controversial.
Nonetheless, if Anonabox is as good as its creator says it is, it can make Tor anonymity available to those who do not have that coding expertise to handle the relays and think ahead.
Because Anonabox sends all your traffic through Tor, it helps prevent 'browser fingerprinting,' a technique hackers and state surveillance agencies use to mark your browser to further identify you even if you browse anonymously. This happens when a website you visit runs an exploit on your computer and installs malware that calls back to the intruder, revealing your real IP. However, with Anonabox it is impossible because everything goes through Tor servers.
Anonabox' creator August Germar cautions that Anonabox is better used with Tor browser for the same reason - if you use your regular Chrome or Safari, websites can identify you through those 'fingerprints.'
Made for the Resistance
As for the Anonaox itself, it stands apart from competition due to its simplicity, size and price. It took the developer team 4 years to decrease the size and increase the performance of the initial prototype, and now it is a small white box that is twice as small as a pack of cigarettes. It has rounded edges, and Germar points out the device can even be hidden in bodily orifice, which makes it a James Bond sci-fi tool for activists if all kinds who run the risk of a physical search, or arrest. This makes Anonabox a tool for all sorts of resistance worldwide, and its affordability makes it disposable. Germar says you can quickly crash it with a brick and throw it out your window if you have no time to hide it well. Basically, it was designed for 'civil disobedience,' and those thinking Middle East, China or Russia will suffer most from activists freely browsing censored websites forget tools like these work both ways, meaning any criminal in Europe or the US will be able to use it anonymizing their terrorist or antisocial activities. Unfortunately, it is something no one can regulate.
Priced at $45, Anonabox is an open-source project, which means user community will be able to inspect the code for known Tor vulnerabilities. Other devices in the niche come with higher prices and run outdated versions of Tor, which in itself makes them useless since updates to Tor may be the difference between anonymity and exposure.
Praise and Unexpected Backlash
People who run the Tor project have been careful with their feedback, neither condemning, nor endorsing the box, but Andrew Lewman, Tor executive director said the project 'looks promising.'
Update: Anonabox Kickstarte campaign pledged $7.500, and within the first three days it raised over $600.000! Then, Reddit attacked Gemrar after the Ask Me Anything session on the grounds that hardware Germar used to build Anonabox was completely off-the-shelf, available on sale from a Chinese manufacturer. Negative backlash caused Kickstarer to suspend the fundraising, and the backers were told their funds would not be withdrawn. Germar commented on the issue saying “You know as much as I do about this. They [Kickstarter] haven’t told me anything. I think there are was a lot of negative press. A lot of people didn’t want the device to exist”, said Germar.