Not even a week ago, we wrote about a new Kickstarter project for the creatively-named Anonabox - a small box that aims to keep you anonymous online. Overall, the product looked like it had potential. On one hand, it's incredibly small, and on the other, it uses the Tor network to anonymous traffic. What's not to like?
As it turns out, there's quite a bit to not like about it, so much so that Kickstarter took the rare path of pulling the entire project, a move that it says is permanent. This comes hot-on-the-heels of many days of skepticism, especially via a Reddit AMA (ask me anything) that was posted this past Tuesday.
Ultimately, the Kickstarter project gave the impression that the hardware was custom, when in fact it's merely an off-the-shelf solution from China (with the exact same chassis), something that project creator August Germar admitted to having potentially "misled" people on. To his defence, he says that it's not the hardware that's the focus of the project, but rather the software. That's a fair enough argument, I suppose, but looking at the project page even now, it does in fact give the impression that the hardware was home-brewed.
Problems extend beyond that. Because the device utilizes Tor, a protocol that changes fairly frequently, a hardware solution could find itself useless after a single update. That's another problem that August admits to, and it doesn't seem that there's a solution for it at the moment. Another big problem, though, is that being anonymous online only solves one of the many problems of keeping yourself safe.
By now, it's become very clear that the bigger threat are companies that don't secure their servers well enough - you might encrypt your connection to store a credit card on a service, but that means little if that service ends up being breached. This is a real issue; our fearless leader Dave Altavilla has been affected by a recent credit card breach, and many of our readers have, as well. Then there's also the fact that the likes of the NSA have their clever ways of intercepting our data.
At the end of the day, a solution like the Anonabox isn't a bad one; any extra protection is useful. But the reality is, there are some big caveats to using a device like this, especially the one where the device could be useless after a Tor protocol update.