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Networking Privacy The Almighty Buck The Internet Technology Hardware News

Kickstarter Cancels Anonabox Funding Campaign 76

An anonymous reader writes: On Friday, the controversy surrounding Anonabox reached its zenith with Kickstarter officially canceling the project's funding campaign. Anonabox began with a modest goal of $7,500, but quickly reached its goal 82 times over. Then funders and interested parties began to scrutinize the project's claims, and that's when the project ran into trouble. From hardware that wasn't actually custom-made to software that didn't actually fulfill promises of privacy-focused routing on the internet, the facts regarding Anonabox proved that it was in blatant violation of Kickstarter's rules against false advertising. This project clearly failed, but if the support it initially garnered is any indication, the public is hungry for easy-to-use technology that encrypts and anonymizes all personal internet traffic.
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Kickstarter Cancels Anonabox Funding Campaign

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  • Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) on Friday October 17, 2014 @06:19PM (#48172887) Homepage

    The guys who said they could create custom hardware for 7,500 bucks were full of shit? I am shocked.

    • Why is custom hardware needed? Im just curious. There seem to be plenty of cheap ($100) SOC boards out there with ethernet ports. You only need one to route. Not sure what sort of hardware performance requirements the encryption and tunneling software would require, but surely one can be built for much less than $7500. Even a desktop with a bunch of 4x1GB port PCIe cards wouldn't cost a grand... its a desktop I know, but still....
      • by r1348 ( 2567295 )

        Hardware backdoors. See Huawei.

      • I believe that among this target market there is a belief that any off-the-shelf hardware is going to have NSA back doors in it.

        And you can certainly hand make one unit for less than $7500. But setting up mass production of any consumer electronics product, even one based on stock boards, requires one or two orders of magnitude more money than that.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        >> surely one can be built for much less than $7500. Even a desktop with a bunch of 4x1GB port PCIe cards wouldn't cost a grand

        Do you not understand the concept of prototyping? (apparently neither did the Anonabox founders)

        The $7500 goal they set was (supposedly) to DESIGN and create MULTIPLE prototype revisions of a custom board. Building one circuit board yourself doesn't cost $7500, but paying an actual EE and fab to design and build a small production run of boards to test your software, the rel

        • Designing and building a 6 layer board, 3 iterations to get right, using your own time is 10-30 grand, depending on the components and manufacturer fees. Any board of takes 6 months. It just does. String together all the things to do for a manufacturable board and it takes 6 months.

          Doing a one off, for your own amusement, or a PoC, I managed that in 2 very long days once.

      • Re:Really? (Score:5, Informative)

        by NoMaster ( 142776 ) on Friday October 17, 2014 @07:54PM (#48173389) Homepage Journal

        Why is custom hardware needed?

        It's not. The off-the-shelf hardware they chose, combined with off-the-shelf software they chose, was quite capable of doing what he said it would.

        The problem was he lied when he said it was custom hardware developed through a series of different iterations. It wasn't - it was as off-the-shelf as you can get, with only a "would you like fries with that?" ROM upgrade from 8meg to 16meg, and a lack of USB port - to differentiate it from the Alibaba $20 special. Right down to the case, which he also claimed was custom-designed by him...

        (Hell, after people showed him pictures of an identical board in an identical case being sold there, he popped up saying the USB port was a 'fantastic idea' and that he'd now decided to include one too...)

        The images of the hardware and development process used on the Kickstarter page? Again, deceptive - the picture of his 'custom-made' case was lifted from Alibaba and the original logo (badly) photoshopped out; images labelled as showing how ongoing development had shrunk the size of the hardware showed exactly the same photo (copied from elsewhere too) of exactly the same board simply resized to make it appear as though it was smaller , etc, etc.

        Software? Very similar story. His 'custom-made code' consisted simply of a bunch of rules; the

        The issue was never that he was taking a $20 box, installing Linux, and asking $50 for it. That's just capitalism. The issue was that he misrepresented what he was doing as original hardware and software development, lied blatently about it, and then when caught out doubling-down on the lies .

        His Reddit AMA is a good overview of the whole thing. [reddit.com]

        • "The issue was that he misrepresented what he was doing as original hardware and software development, lied blatently about it, and then when caught out doubling-down on the lies ."

          That's just being a capitalist salesman.

      • openwrt + debian chroot + tor linux package == wireless router that simply puts everything through tor, transparently.

        one could dispense with the debian chroot altogether if they did a well maintained fork of openwrt with well updated packages.

        Routers are getting quite powerful these days. while they often lack hardware fpu, that can be somewhat alleviated with softfloat solutions.

        keep your traffic under control, and such a box can easily handle the load. (naturally, you need to keep the number of connected

      • by rvw ( 755107 )

        Why is custom hardware needed? Im just curious. There seem to be plenty of cheap ($100) SOC boards out there with ethernet ports. You only need one to route. Not sure what sort of hardware performance requirements the encryption and tunneling software would require, but surely one can be built for much less than $7500. Even a desktop with a bunch of 4x1GB port PCIe cards wouldn't cost a grand... its a desktop I know, but still....

        How about the Alix APU1D4 [pcengines.ch] combined with Pfsense and encrypted harddisk.

  • by krkhan ( 1071096 ) on Friday October 17, 2014 @06:19PM (#48172889) Homepage
    Sure, the Kickstarter is canceled but the makers have continued their marketing campaign. From the official website [anonabox.com]:

    Looks like the Kickstarter is over. The device will be for sale soon directly through this website though, so check back soon. Sign up for our mailing list to be notified as soon as its [sic] available.

    It'll be interesting to see how the general public's trust pans out over this thing. Do they take Kickstarter's cancellation as a red flag or are they so desperate for a easily-configurable Tor router that they'll pay whoever they can for it. Even if that means trusting these assholes vs. their ISPs.

    • It'll be interesting to see how the general public's trust pans out over this thing. Do they take Kickstarter's cancellation as a red flag or are they so desperate for a easily-configurable Tor router that they'll pay whoever they can for it. Even if that means trusting these assholes vs. their ISPs.

      Neither - their interest was enough to get them click on the button on the Kickstarter they were linked to, but their interest is not enough to get them to go to some other site, fill out payment info, and hope for the best.

      Kickstarter works because:
      There's a single site with tons of people on it who would otherwise never visit yourrandomproject.com or thatotherproject.org .
      It's a single click to pledge your cash for a specific reward.
      Backers know that they have the option to cancel their pledge at the 11th

    • Anyone searching for them by the term "anonabox" is going to come across a LOT of negative stories on the first page of results.

      Anyone searching for "tor router" is going to see competing products + negative stories about anonabox.

      In short, "It's dead, Jim!"

  • I'm not hungry for "easy-to-use technology that encrypts and anonymizes all personal internet traffic", nor am I hungry for it.

    If you want to encrypt traffic then set up secure keys (OFFLINE) with the hosts you wish to communicate with. Use whatever you want for keys - certificates (NOT FROM THE ESTABLISHED CERTIFICATE AUTHORITIES), passwords, RSA clocks, OTPs, or scans of your genitals.

    If you want to anonymize your traffic, then use someone else's connection, changing your MAC every time you do so. Try t

    • If you want to anonymize your traffic, then use someone else's connection, changing your MAC every time you do so. Try to use multiple different connections in different locations. Try to use locations away from your house. Do not travel to said locations in a way that can easily be tracked (your cell phone, your car, etc.).

      You solution is difficult, and not always needed. Sometimes you do not need perfect security, just enough to stop casual eavesdropping. TOR does this. And does it better that the current baseline, the laughably insecure SSL.

  • by Evan Langlois ( 3876837 ) on Friday October 17, 2014 @06:20PM (#48172899) Homepage
    16 Companies Tracking This Page

    How bad are people tracking you? Everytime you see a facebook, twitter, or other social media button, a like button, or whatever, that image is tracking you. I'm showing 16 different companies tracking slashdot from google analytics to facebook and twitter to places like taboola and others - some running scripts, some setting cookies. Don't know if any are using web bugs as I haven't checked to see what methods they all use, but this is what keeps slashdot running.

    The problem is that every site is doing this. People are no longer customers, but you are now a PRODUCT. People are selling YOU. This isn't what the Internet was designed to be, its not the outpost of freedom we wanted. I am trully disappointed.

    • This isn't what the Internet was designed to be, its not the outpost of freedom we wanted. I am trully disappointed.

      The internet was designed to be a way for DARPA contractors to share data without having to mail giant tape spools to each other. "We" didn't get involved until a couple decades later.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      Are you sure that's sixteen separate companies?

      Disconnect is showing 16 counters for me too.
        - 12 content-related requests from Google
        - 3 Google social-related requests
        - One analytics request from ComScore

      Looks like two companies to me.

      • Perhaps it's counting Google Inc. and almost a dozen of its wholly owned tax avoidance shells as separate companies.
    • 16 Companies Tracking This Page

      This isn't what the Internet was designed to be, its not the outpost of freedom we wanted. I am trully disappointed.

      wtf...? Dude, the internet was designed to allow American nuclear weapons research facilities (both private and governmental) to distribute their data so that they could survive a Soviet first-strike and continue to develop weapons. This was back in the early 1970's, and it was called DARPANet, after the US government think tank that funded its development, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency. Seriously, it wasn't until the late 1980's and early 1990's that "the outpost of freedom" you are talkin

      • Funny - you start by saying that the government designed the internet, and then turn around an contradict yourself and say that the Internet that we know started taking shape from Usenet and hobbyist BBS users. I know. I was there. Long live my 300bps modem and 110bps acoustic coupler!

        Yes, the networks merged, hence the name Internet. The .coms watching what you do so they can sell to you more efficiently is all brand new.

        A-Oh-Hell users flooding the system is just re-inforcing my point. AOL is one

  • Anonabox began with a modest goal of $7,500, but quickly reached its goal 82 times over. Then funders and interested parties began to scrutinize the project's claims

    Way hod. I think I've spotted the problem.

  • You still have a filter in your brain that lets you not buy stuff. Use it, lukite.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There was no reason for the Anonabox anyway, it already exists. Why did they get so much on kickstarter?
    https://pogoplug.com/safeplug
    and it was even featured on slashdot last year
    http://yro-beta.slashdot.org/story/13/11/22/1929234/tor-now-comes-in-a-box

  • Since a Kickstarter project doesn't usually have the benefit of a reputation, they're ripe for scam artists and huckster/hype factories. Then again, that HAS actually established a reputation. For Kickstarter/Indiegogo/etc. projects in general. Even ones that do what they say they're going to do can boil down to overhyped junk. Take the Om One, Leap Motion, or Midi PUC for example. They do what they say they can do. But it's like, so what, what they say they can do turns out to be pretty lame, it's j
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 17, 2014 @06:50PM (#48173045)

    Not sure why people were mad about the hardware in this whole ordeal. Who gives a shit if it looks like something else or he used stock photos?

    This device was never ever going to be anything but the cheapest and most practical router SoC they could get their hands on. The things are made in china by the millions and cost less than a buck. Add a little flash and two ethernet jacks and some supporting hardware and you're done. Fuck, there are literally dozens of two port micro routers that are literally this I can go buy on amazon right now. AND they have wifi. Some are even USB powered.

    Realistically, they were just going to take an existing micro router reference deisgn and load custom firmware on it. Your typical router SoC has more than enough power to run a tor node.

    What would make this project special would be the software stack. Making a tor node that easy to use and still be truly secure would be something of a challenge. Would it really be possible to make an idiot proof automagic tor node that intercepts and redirects traffic?

    • by vadim_t ( 324782 )

      The problems are:

      1. He said it was 100% open source ("The anonabox is an open source embedded networking device designed specifically to run Tor. It's 100% Open Source." on the project's page), and that he was designing the hardware (see the generation 1, 2, etc pics), clearly implying he was developing the hardware.

      He clearly lied about that. Is there a problem with a customized small Linux distro running on an existing chinese router? No, there isn't, if you don't lie about it.

      2. A quick review proved the

  • by Wootery ( 1087023 ) on Friday October 17, 2014 @07:03PM (#48173131)

    Reminds me of something Eben Moglen says in one of his Freedom in the Cloud talks [softwarefreedom.org]:

    So what do we need? We need a really good web server that you can put in your pocket and plug in any place. It shouldn't be any larger than the charger for your cellphone. You should be able to plug it into any power jack in the world or sync it up with any wi-fi router that happens to be in this neighborhood ... It should have a couple of USB ports that attach it to things. It should know how to bring itself up; how to start its web server; how to go and collect your stuff from all the social networking places you've got it.

    It should know how to send an encrypted backup of everything to your friends' servers. It should know how to micro-blog, It should now how to make some noise that's like tweet but doesn't infringe on anyone's trademark. It should know how to ... be your avatar in a free net that works for you and keeps the logs. You can always tell what's happening in your server and if anybody else wants to know they can get a search warrant.

    • by g4sy ( 694060 )
      This is doable. There are clearly many people who are willing to shell out $50 for much less. The market is there. We need to get an A-team of open project leaders (Andrew "Bunnie" Huang, the guys at Apertus, probably others I can't think of off the top of my head) and get a community around them to crowd-fund and build such a device. It needs a tipping point of network effect as well.
  • Sure they do (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Friday October 17, 2014 @07:39PM (#48173311) Homepage

    People would like a magic box that make them anonymous and secure on the internet while they log into Facebook, just like they want a magic diet pill while they continue to stuff their faces with sugar and fat. Or for a more relevant tech example they'd like a magic oracle to tell them if a website belongs to who they think it belongs to which is why we have CAs as the best approximation. It's never going to work that way, but there's a lot of money in selling snake oil...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Don't get it, whatever happened to the old fashion way where the owners of the company or of the project would either invest their own money or borrow from the bank. Look at Mark Shuttleworth, he has about $500 Million and yet he did not invest $32 Million of his own money into the Ubuntu Phone project but instead went with crowdfunding which failed. Canonical makes about $30+ Million a year and has 500 employees for some reason, they have to be making $30k a year salary.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    https://pogoplug.com/safeplug $49.

    From a company with some history of delivery (makers of the Pogoplug).

  • I'm never giving money to anything that is funded via that method.

    LK

  • What do you expect when the Washington Redskins come after you.

  • Want actual, real, not-made-up security and privacy? Head over to IndieGoGo and help support my company's Newbound Network product. It's real. It exists. It was made in America by real live Americans. And you can try it out for a buck. http://igg.me/at/newbound

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