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A portable network device that sits between computer and router to anonymize browsing from any computer via the Tor network has smashed its Kickstarter fundraising goal just days after hitting the crowdfunding platform.
Anonabox, a $50 open source router which directs any wired or WiFi traffic that goes through it via the Tor networks, had a 30 day funding target of $7,500. At the time of writing, and with 28 days to go until funding closes, the device has racked up a staggering $255,471.
After a series of four prototypes costing between $200 and $400 for parts, the current version is a quarter of the size it started at, and costs just $51 to back on Kickstarter. Its tiny size – Wired states its small enough to hide two in a packet of cigarettes – makes it a deliberately portable solution, ensuring it is especially handy for people wanting to browse the web freely in more oppressive countries.
Indeed, Wired states that the device is “intended for users in other countries where Tor’s anti-censorship and privacy properties can help shield activists and journalists.” Its tiny size is intended for “easy concealment” and its smooth sides means it can even be “stowed in a bodily orifice”. It’s even been built for easy disposal should things take a turn for the worse, as August Germar, one of the designers, told Wired: “Maybe it’s too late and the police are already downstairs, so you smash the box with a brick and throw the pieces out the window. Or maybe you just crush it by stepping on it with your shoe and flush the pieces down the toilet.”
While a Tor connection makes anonymous browsing possible, privacy conscious browsers should still be aware of other methods of spying, such as keyloggers or similar. Micah Lee, who develops on Tor related projects told Wired that he would recommend the Tor browser on top of any plug and play Tor router such as this to avoid browser fingerprinting from other browsers on the same computer, while deselecting the ‘transparent torification’ setting in the Tor browser to prevent doubling the Tor routing, slowing connection speeds.
The Inquirer reports that the device is due to ship as soon as January 2015, having been in development for four years. The Kickstarter page does warn of potential bottlenecks in the process as each unit ‘is tested by hand to make sure it is configured properly and functioning as it should’, and has promised to hire more people if the project takes off beyond expectations – with 3,565 backers to date and 28 days before funding closes, they may have to follow through on this contingency plan.
Author Alan Martin, ESET