Def Con Presenters And CloudFlare Exec Unveil ‘PORTAL’ Counter-Surveillance Router
A lot has sure changed in the past year, especially since the time before Edward Snowden, who we talked about yesterday, came forth with his NSA revelations. Anyone who cared about hiding their identity pre-Snowden were generally considered privacy nuts. But post-Snowden, the desire to keep private online suddenly seemed a lot more sane. But let's face it: Keeping truly secure is not that simple, especially for someone who's not well-versed in networking, or computers in general.
As Ars Technica notes, there's even been some people who'd be considered "experts" that have slipped-up, causing themselves to be briefly exposed and de-anonymized in an instant. Whether you're a noobie or an expert, the "PORTAL" travel router, created by Ryan Lackey of CloudFlare, Marc Rogers of Lookout, and security researcher "the grugq", will make keeping private a whole lot easier.
PORTAL stands for "Personal Onion Router To Assure Liberty", a somewhat brilliant name that I'm sure its creators were pleased worked out. PORTAL is a simple travel router, one that acts as a proxy between your PC and the outside world. You can connect to it either via a wired connector, or a wireless one (the latter will especially be useful for those notebook warriors, or those who frequent hotels). The router is designed as a solution that requires no user interaction. Plug it in, and feel confident in your security and privacy.
Where PORTAL shines when compared to the competition is that its Tor implementation is far more robust, supporting a handful of different transports. Bananaphone support is one of these, which translates Tor traffic into "natural language" text, and FTE, which makes Tor traffic look as though it's a different protocol, such as SSH. These techniques could help get around potential roadblocks that would slow things down if someone is trying to keep anonymous.
There's some good and bad news about PORTAL's availability. The bad is that it's not on sale, so you can't simply go on and place an order online and experience that ease. The good news is that if you have a TP-Link compatible adapter, you're able to download the code off of Github and flash PORTAL's image on over to it. Because PORTAL's goal is to offer high security with absolute ease, we can only hope that this will become a purchasable product at some point. If an inexperienced PC user wants the product, they're probably not going to be willing to learn how to flash the firmware, after all.