Funding for this project was suspended by Kickstarter on October 17, 2014.
Funding for this project was suspended by Kickstarter on October 17, 2014.
As is our habit, a few friends who work in IT consulting got together for beer and tacos to talk about current projects for our clients. One such client was for a school district that wanted to filter the Internet access for the schools network. At first we talked about a few different ways to filter the content, like filtering images based on how many shades of pink the images contained. The conversation turned to things the kids might do to get around whatever system was in place. The problem is, kids are smart and pretty tech savvy. We discussed ways the students might try to bypass a filtering system, like running some kind of portable device that built a proxy through the school’s systems entirely. It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to block such a device if it were properly designed. Too bad kids were not our clients!
As we finished our beers, we noticed a news story on the overhead TV about the Arab Spring protesters in Egypt being cut off from twitter. We wished we could help somehow. From our collective experience working at ISP's we had a pretty good idea how the filtering was going on. The journalists and protesters might be able to get back out to the regular Internet if they could just run a vpn or proxy through it. Outside of going there in person and tracking down people who needed help so we could reconfigure their computers to use proxies and vpn's there was not a clear way to help. Unless...
Light Bulb! How about if we were to actually build that anti-censorship box we were just talking about and mail it out to people? We decided to go for a second round of beers while we followed this line of thought to its conclusion. Little did we know, it would take over four years, and a lot more tacos and beer, to create a device with the security, speed, functionality and easy-of-use that is the anonabox.
Our first prototypes were pretty clunky, and cost between $200-$400 just for the parts, but they worked well and proved the concept. 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.
By our fourth round of prototypes we had created a model with 64mb memory and a 580mhz CPU. This not only runs the software well, it flies! At last happy with the board, we designed a simple, minimalist case in plain white to house it. The end result is our current model. We decided to name it the anonabox.
The anonabox is a networking device that provides anonymous Internet access and encryption, and helps to bypass censorship in places where access to the Internet is limited.
The anonabox has been developed and refined for the sole purpose of running the open source software Tor, considered the best and most secure way to access the Internet anonymously. All traffic coming out of or going into your computer or network is encrypted this way. The result is strong, secure anonymity. Using the anonabox hides your location, as well as all the other personal data that leaks through ordinary Internet use. We noticed also that pageload times and end user experience is significantly faster than when running the Tor browser bundle software, because all the hard work is being done in the background by the anonabox.
The anonabox easily encrypts Internet usage with a simple device that secures all web traffic, not just the traffic coming from one program. No software to download or configure, no login credentials, no registration, just plug it in and your network connection is encrypted. The anonabox also allows people to use programs over Tor that never supported it before or required complicated configuration like Skype, Safari and Filezilla, to name just a few. Also the default firewall configuration protects your computer or network from outside access.
In places where the government or private entities may try to control or limit access to the Internet, the Tor network allows access to the full, uncensored Internet, and also access to some parts of the web that are hidden even in uncensored places, like .onion domains. However, most people who use tor access it through software called the Tor browser bundle, or Vidalia. This creates a problem because only web activity within that one program is sent over the Tor network, leaving everything else on your computer unprotected and potentially revealing your location and information about you over the regular web.
As more people use the Tor network, more people accidentally reveal information about themselves by using the software incorrectly, or by simultaneously running other software that compromises their security. The anonabox uses Tor to allow anyone to access the Internet anonymously without having to install any software, and makes the encryption of the Tor network available to anyone, anywhere in the world.
No more backdoors! The anonabox provides better security than most available products because it is completely open source, and open hardware. Anyone can audit and browse the code, or download hardware schematics. For this reason, it is guaranteed to be free from the documented back-doors and security flaws common to other commercially available routers. We welcome developers from around the world to create their own uses for the anonabox. We believe the device belongs to them and they are free to modify it any way they like.
Here's how it works: <¶>1.Run a cable from the anonabox to your regular router <¶>2.Plug in the USB power cable wait for it to power up, then connect wirelessly (or via an Ethernet cable) to your device of choice.
Thats it! Because all the hard work is being done by the anonabox in the background, nearly any device can now access the tor network: tablets, old machines, phones, anything with network connectivity works without any configuration.
Thus far, we have been able to make anonaboxes only in extremely small batches for friends and volunteers. Your support will help us move out of our garage, into full production. With a large initial order, we hope to reduce the price and get the anonabox into as many hands as possible. If our Kickstarter does not get funded, it’s back to the garage, making them a few at a time when we can. We are also very excited to get feedback from a community of users, to put the anonabox to the test and continue to refine it. We thank you for your pledge, in any amount. This is a cause we believe in very much and hope others see value in. High five!
The anonabox is a fully functional product ready for large batch production. A tremendous amount of planning has gone into getting it ready for launch. We have backup vendors in place for raw materials and parts in case there is a delay in the supply chain, and to make sure the production line is scale-able to accommodate orders in a timely fashion, no matter how many we receive. We have internalized two main ideas to run this: First; one hour of planning before the launch is worth 100 hours after. And Second; it is always better to under-promise and over-deliver, than the other way around.
One potential bottleneck we have anticipated for example is that each and every anonabox that goes out is tested by hand to make sure it is configured properly and functioning as it should. We have made contingency plans to hire more people and organize for efficiency as needed to make sure we can scale to a large amount and maintain a high level of quality control.
Totally! Funny this is the most common question. We of all people respect your privacy. Everyone will have a chance to opt out of having their names listed on our thank you page.
You can run multiple Tor relays on one network. There is a lot of room to configure your network with it multiple ways, but the short answer is yes it should work just the same on a network with a relay running.
Yes the software can be updated by the end user by typing "opkg update && opkg upgrade" from the command line. We at first considered making the default configuration update automatically but figured people would like to have a bit more control over when it happens. Great question!
Yes we are lucky enough to have many backers behind the great firewall and are excited to hear about their experiences! Just check the 'International Shipping' option and your good to go!
Yes! Excellent question. It will work fine in that configuration and it will Torrify your whole home network if that's what you want!
Yes it most certainly will. This is not a device for playing games on. Its not a toy! Play games on your LAN. Great question though!
Yes you totally can set it to be whatever your heart desires. There is a backer option that says I will set the ssid for you and it is meant as an additional perk. The wording might have described it better if it said "I August Germar will personally configure your SSID for you as a way of saying thanks" which is only a perk for those who do not have the desire or technical expertise to set their own.
Yes, also a good question and the answer is also yes, they can both be in use no problem. The default subnet is a class C which would allow you to use 254 devices, although we have experimented with a class A subnet which would support billions.
Yes, this is exactly what we expect the most common configuration to be, and that is exactly how it would work. Great Question! It can be used other ways too as you will see in the other questions, but what you describe is the way we perceive most people will use it.
Also an excellent question! You can test at anytime by going to the official Tor check site:
But when you browse the Internet using an anonabox you will notice a difference because your location will be somewhere else in the world, its common to see search results in other languages for example. If there is ever a problem with Tor not running properly on the device itself your Internet access will just stop to prevent the possibility you might leak info, but that is just a precaution since we have never had any trouble.
Tor is not a VPN but we can understand the confusion, they are similar in some ways.
All over! I made this map that shows a lot of them:
Yes, this is possible but not something we have tested or spent any time on. You could do it with a few iptables rules in /etc/firewall.user
While you are accessing the Internet over Tor there is a noticeable slowdown because of the overhead of Tor itself. That is why you wouldn't use it for playing Video games or downloading large files. Here right now for example I get 8mbps on a good day with regular Internet access, and over Tor I find I get under 3mbps.
The guarantee is because it is all open source, so if there ever was a backdoor it would be found right away. If you are still concerned at all you can compile the source yourself and go over every line!
Yes! Developers from all over the world work on the Tor project, and we are in communication with members from the official Tor project. They are excited to use the hardware for testing and development. Also on twitter one of the main devs Roger Dingledine (ioerror) said he is looking forward to going over the code, which is an honor, as we are big fans of his work!
The main benefit is that it is pre-configured and ready to go. If you want to build your own at home that's great and we will help you! There is a community called the stack exchange http://tor.stackexchange.com where we have been volunteering helping people make their own for a while and it is fun, but is a challenge for some non technical users. It is not easy to find hardware that is suitable, you'll want to make sure it has at least 16mb flash memory (not RAM). There is also great documentation on how to do it on the official Tor Project website: https://torproject.org. The idea for this Kickstarter was inspired in part by people just like you who wanted usage of a device like this but not the fun (hassle?) of building one themselves from scratch.
You can use any browser you like including the Tor browser bundle. You can also configure the TBB to connect to the router instead of the locally running version of Tor which will save your computer some local system resources if you want.
Yes you can modify it any way you like. Sounds like you would probably want to use openvpn which is easy to install and pretty standard on devices that run the newer versions of OpenWrt like the anonabox. Great Question!
Awesome question! I have ssh access on port 99 and you will have root access to the whole filesystem. I use vim to edit the flat files. There is also a web gui called luci that is installed but not accessible by default, it requires the user log in and comment out a firewall rule but looking over the messages I am getting it seems like a lot of people would want to access the web gui without having to ssh, so the default will be http://192.168.0.1:999 to access it. (if you can't tell I already I really like using nonstandard ports)
- (30 days)