New device anonabox tries to make Internet access safer
The Internet is a curious technology because its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. While some people use the Internet innocently to conduct research, shop and connect with friends, there are some who choose to be more malicious in their use.
There are many different versions of what is perceived as "the enemy" when it comes to the online world. In some oppressive countries the government is the enemy of the common Internet user because of censorship and persecution of those who post controversial material. In the U.S., sometimes marketers and service providers can seem like the enemy because of privacy invasion and targeted advertising. Around the world, intelligence agencies frequently request user information for national security purposes. There are also Internet users who post hateful content, known as trolls, and there are hackers who try to steal the personal and financial information of others.
In an effort to form a defense against the growing number of spies and haters online, a group of friends have designed a networking device called anonabox. The purpose of the invention is to allow Internet users to bypass censorship and evade unauthorized access. According to Slash Gear, the networking device is small enough that it can be hidden and simple enough that it can simply be plugged into an existing network. The device is also designed to be inexpensive enough for anyone to afford.
Encryption and proxy software in one device
Headed by August Germar, the anonabox device uses a popular software called Tor, which allows users to bypass censorship lines using proxies – tools that many people use around the world to get past government firewalls. The device uses encryption for traffic so that communications are secure and anonymous. Also, whereas many programs did not work with Tor, anonabox should be able to work flawlessly with them, added Slash Gear.
In the past four years, there have been four anonabox prototypes. The company said the first iterations were "pretty clunky and cost between $200-$400 just for the parts," reported Computer World. The version that is selling now, however, is smaller than a deck of playing cards. To use the device, it needs to be connected to an existing modem or rounder via an Ethernet port. It will work with Windows, Mac or Linux, and also tablets and smartphones. If wireless capability is not available, a user can plug a computer directly into a LAN Ethernet port on the device.
Started as a kickstarter campaign, anonabox holds real promise and its brief funding history reflects that. The creators started their campaign by only asking for $7,500. In a short time they gathered more than $177,000 with 28 days left in their capital raising timeline. For users that are interested, a new anonabox costs $51 and comes ready to use and 2,867 users have already made purchases.
A video made by the creators of anonabox suggested several ways in which the device could be helpful. They mentioned businesses and hotels ensuring that customer data is protected, and journalists who need to bypass government firewalls and publish their stories.
"It protects your privacy from unscrupulous marketers and identity thieves and protects communications from irresponsible corporations," the video states, reported Computer World.
It is important to note that the device can be used to protect security and anonymity, but it can also be used to conceal illegal activity and allow cyber criminals operate in stealth mode. As with everything on the Internet, the greatest strength is also the greatest weakness.