Tiny Anonabox to offer online anonymity through Tor

screen shot 2014 10 13 at 12.43.34 pm

The Anonabox wireless router.

Credit: Anonabox

The device is an open-source, plug-and-play wireless router

A startup is offering a tiny wireless router to users who want their anonymity protected by first encrypting and then routing their traffic over the Tor network.

The Anonabox is an open source, Internet networking device designed to run alongside a current home router or modem. Small enough to fit in a shirt or pants pocket, the device directs all your Internet data via Wi-Fi or an Ethernet cable to Tor, where your IP address is hidden from prying eyes.

screen shot 2014 10 13 at 12.45.11 pm Anonabox

A closer look at the back of the Anonabox.

The Anonabox router project, currently being funded through a Kicksarter campaign, is approaching 10 times the original $7,000 it was seeking after just one day of crowdfunding.

"We knew that the device had to be small enough to easily conceal, built with quality components and rock solid. But we also wanted to make it inexpensive. We wanted to make it available to as many people as possible," the company explained on its Kickstarter campaign page.

Tor (The Onion Router) is a free software project that conceals a user's IP address by bouncing online activity and all data through a random, worldwide network made up of more than 5,000 relays.

Use of the Tor network does reduce Internet speed and page-loading times because the data is being routed to computers around the world.

screen shot 2014 10 13 at 1.07.40 pm Anonabox

The Anonabox has undergone four revisions to get to today's palm-sized device.

Anonabox is not the first Tor-enabled hardware device. The Tor community announced the Torouter Dreamplug hardware project last year.

The Tor website noted that Dreamplug is still "highly experimental and while seemingly functional, we have lots of bugs to iron out and features to implement."

Also last year, Pogoplug launched Safeplug, a Tor-enabled web privacy device that has ad-blocking software and retails for $49. The Safeplug router, however, is about the same size as a typical home router and doesn't add data encryption to network traffic as the Anonabox does.

screen shot 2014 10 13 at 1.52.33 pm Pogoplug

Pogoplug's Safeplug router also uses the Tor network.

Over the past four years, the new Anonabox has seen four prototypes. The company said that its first generations were "pretty clunky and cost between $200-$400 just for the parts."

The latest version, however, is smaller than a deck of playing cards.

The Anonabox is also simple to use, according to the company; you plug it into an existing modem or router via an Ethernet port. Them plug in the USB power cable; a blue LED light on the Anonabox will then illuminate. The Anonabox router then uses Wi-FI to connect to any Windows, Mac or Linux computer, tablet or smartphone.

If a device has no wireless capability, a user can plug the computer directly into a second LAN Ethernet port on the Anonabox.

A promotional video suggests several uses for the device, including using it to securely share Internet access with family and friends, or to stream live audio from sports games that are blocked in a specific region.

Businesses such as hotels and coffee shops might also consider the Anonabox as a way to ensure customer data is protected as people use free Wi-Fi services.

It "protects your privacy from unscrupulous marketers and identity thieves and protects communications from irresponsible corporations," the video states.

The promo even suggests that journalists can use the encrypted connection to gain access to the Internet in "places where the web is being censored in order to get the story out."

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