Anonabox: Online Privacy for the Rest of Us

Privacy is an important commodity these days. Our own government can’t be trusted with it, and our ISPs seem to take every opportunity to sell us out in order to turn a bigger profit. Perhaps the biggest tragedy, though, is how few people actually know there’s a problem.

Everybody in the world ought to have some kind of privacy measure in place, whether it’s a VPN subscription, a roll-your-own Tor solution, or something else entirely. Thanks to Kickstarter, though, we may have our best solution yet. It’s called the Anonabox.

I mentioned Tor because it stands right now as one of the very best options for anyone who wants to start taking their online anonymity seriously. The only problem is that setting it up can take some time and might be taxing for anyone who’s not terribly proficient with a computer.

The Anonabox aims to help improve Tor’s usability by taking setup and configuration completely out of the equation. Instead of forcing the user to alter or add software to their computer or router, the Anonabox comes pre-configured; all you have to do is plug it into your home router.

So what, exactly, does it do? It’s deceptively simple. It routs all of your Ethernet or Wifi traffic through Tor, which effectively hides your IP address and gets you around any censorship blockades in your home country. Essentially, your entire online footprint – web browsing, email, instant messaging, and file-sharing – are kept hidden from prying eyes – both those within the federal government and those without.

Best of all, Anonabox covers all of the traffic on your home network, meaning you don’t need to run additional software on each of your computers or mobile devices, and you don’t have to buy a new router. It just works.

Anonabox isn’t the first device of its kind, but what it’s managed to do is take existing concepts and polish them. It’s smaller and more portable than previous iterations of this technology, and also more affordable. The going rate on Kickstarter is just $51 (the $45 tier sold out almost immediately), making it, to my mind, a very worthy investment.

In the words of one of Anonabox’s creators, August Germar, the mission here was to introduce Tor and its capabilities to a new generation of users who wouldn’t have known about it otherwise. But more than that, it seeks to eliminate the idea that online anonymity requires a great deal of technical expertise.

To be fair, the device has yet to be formally audited for potential security flaws. One of its competitors, SafePlug, was found to have at least one security oversight as recently as September, but one of Anonabox’s strengths is that it’s open-source; any vulnerabilities will likely be detected and solved by the Tor community fairly quickly. Nevertheless, as with most other campaigns on Kickstarter, this is technically an unproven device.

Nevertheless, this may prove to be the very best option for anyone who has not yet taken steps to anonymize their activities online. And let’s be clear: privacy is for everyone – not just those who think they have something to hide.

If you’re interested in Anonabox, you can stop by the Kickstarter campaign page for a video and more information about how the device works. The campaign is already successfully funded, and will draw to a close on November 11th.

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