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A selection of rival privacy conscious Tor routers have appeared on crowdfunding sites after the Anonabox was surprisingly pulled just days after smashing its modest funding targets.
The Anonabox, which we reported on here, promised to be a $45 open-source portable privacy solution, small enough to fit inside a cigarette box and aimed at those wanting to browse the internet freely and securely in oppressive countries with tough internet restrictions.
But despite raising $585,000 in just five days (it only sought $7,500), the Anonabox was dramatically pulled from Kickstarter before the funding concluded. The BBC reports that the crowdfunding site “had worries about who made the hardware being offered.”
Wired elaborates on this, stating that “Users pointed out that the router’s hardware, which Anonabox creator Germar had claimed was custom-designed, could be found for sale from Chinese suppliers on sites like the business e-commerce platform Alibaba.”
The fact that Anonabox raised more than 10 times its funding targets in just five days has inspired a series of similar looking projects to step into the gap left by Kickstarter closing the funding – even though the BBC states that Germar intends to sell the Anonabox directly.
First up is the Invizbox – an Indiegogo project that at the time of writing has hit almost exactly half of its funding target ($9,999 of $20,000) with 15 days to go. Arstechnica reports that the device looks “identical” to the Anonabox and packs very similar specifications, with 64 megabytes of RAM, 16 megabytes of flash storage and a Linux-based Operating System. Indeed, Arstechnica explains that the real difference is that they’re doing it in a “more transparent and secure way.”
Meanwhile, back on Kickstarter another rival is seeking funding: Project Sierra. Seeking $150,000, and still with just $6,194 at the time of writing, Tom’s Hardware claims its creators describe it as “the real deal.” Packing similar features to the Anonabox, Project Sierra also includes a 7-inch LCD screen, five gigabit Ethernet ports and wireless N connectivity. It has just six days to meet its ambitious target.
More look set to follow though, with Wired describing the upcoming Cloak as “promising,” noting that its “open-source code has already been published for public appraisal.” PORTAL is another option. An acronym for “Personal Onion Router To Assure Liberty, PORTAL uses “a ‘hardened’ version of OpenWRT combined with Tor that’s designed to be installed on any stock router.”
While the current contenders look unlikely to match the runaway success of the Anonabox, there’s clearly a demonstrable demand for such a product, that shows no signs of going away, despite the Kickstarter setback that befell the original device.
Author Alan Martin, ESET