Staying anonymous online is difficult, if not almost impossible.
Standard traffic can be monitored, government agencies enjoy slurping vast amounts of data, and even networks such as Tor and VPNs can only protect you so far. For journalists, activists, political dissidents and — yes — criminals, this can mean their activities are open to spying eyes.
With public outcry still echoing from Edward Snowden’s disclosures concerning the mass data collection of the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK’s GCHQ, a plethora of anti-surveillance tools, both software and hardware, are in rapid development and have flooded the market.
Some creators of ‘spy-proof’ gadgets are only out to make a quick buck; others, including security researcher Benjamin Caudill, are focused on providing a “service to the community” rather than cashing in on public surveillance concerns.
Due to be unveiled at the Def Con hacker conference in Las Vegas next month, the researcher has created Proxyham, a tiny device designed to muffle Internet traffic and make the source harder to track by law enforcement or government agencies.
Proxyham is essentially a hardware proxy which allows users to connect to a public Wi-Fi network over low-frequency radio channels. As explained by Motherboard, Proxyham is comprised of a Raspberry Pi computer and three antennas.
One antenna connects to a public Wi-Fi network — such as Starbucks or a bookstore — while the other two transmit the signal at 900MHz. A 900MHz antenna needs to be plugged into the user’s ethernet port.
This gives users the ability to connect to Wi-Fi hotspots up to 2.5 miles away — and if traced, the only IP address on record is of the Proxyham box, which is planted conveniently away from the physical user.
Caudill told the publication:
“You can have it all the way across town, and worst case scenario the police go barge into the library across town.”
The device has been designed as an additional layer of security and complement to the Tor network, and additional features including a self-destruct function are in the works.
Caudill plans to release the source code, blueprint and specs at Def Con, as well as sell the device “at cost” for $200 — although the researcher hopes this price can be dropped in the future.