Pogoplug announced a $49, Linux-based security device called the Safeplug that taps into the Tor network to hide your IP information when using the web.
The Safeplug is a router security peripheral that addresses growing fears about cyber-snooping by anonymizing your web browsing sessions and hiding your identity and physical location. The device protects against unwanted traffic analysis by running all Internet communications over the open source Tor network. Originally developed by the U.S. Navy, and widely used by journalists, dissidents, and others attempting to cover up their cyber-trail, Tor generates a complex network of virtual tunnels that hides one’s IP address.
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Typically, marketers use IP addresses to track your physical address and identity for market research. Whether or not this level of snooping is considered an infringement or privacy, the dissemination of such information over numerous servers makes it easier for cyber-thieves and scammers to access the data, trace your online behavior, and connect that to a physical location and address.
The Safeplug device is based on the same hardware design as the Pogoplug Mobile personal cloud-server gadget (shown on the right), but with a different firmware stack, according to an email from a Pogoplug spokesperson. The device runs Linux on an ARM-based Marvell Feroceon 88FR131 rev 1 processor with 128MB of RAM and 128MB of flash memory.
The simple device plugs into your Internet router via an Ethernet port, and can be set up within a minute, says Pogoplug. Safeplug’s Tor-based security stack works with any browser, and includes Openssl, Lighttpd, and Privoxcy, says the Pogoplug spokesperson. Android and iOS smartphones can share the secure Safeplug connection when running a WiFi session over the local router’s subnet.
Once Safeplug is installed on your local network, you point the web browser of your computer or mobile device to “http://pogoplug.com/safeplug” and click Activate to start accessing the web through Safeplug’s Tor connection.
The Tor connection can slow down your Internet connection somewhat, admits Pogoplug. However, the device can be quickly turned on and off, and as with most peer-to-peer networking technologies, as Tor gains users, it also gains speed. Pogoplug does not insist that you share your Tor connection with other Tor users, but suggests you do so as a way to improve performance for everyone while helping protect privacy rights around the world.
One other issue is that since a search request is being boomeranged around the world before it reaches Google, the search engine may serve up pages in the wrong language. This is easily avoided, however, by several means, including using a country-specific Google search site, as Pogoplug explains on its FAQ.
The Safeplug is available now for $49. More information may be found at Pogoplug’s Safeplug website.