AnonaboxPro
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Introduction

I’ve been looking for something, anything, that would help with the Dark-spider project. The problem I was having had to do with being forced to install TOR Onion onto the laptop.  The reason it was a problem, was that TOR takes up bandwidth, CPU, and is slow as hell. I needed an option to run a small tower at night while I slept, without having to rent yet another server just to index the onion sites. There was so much more I wanted to do with Dark-spider, that any rented server space didn’t need to be running TOR all the time.

I figured that a router that ran on the onion protocol might suite my needs for mapping nodes, links, and social connections to onion sites. I could run it on a timer, and have a tower run a simple bash script to make the connection and run an indexer.

I also wanted something to help protect the privacy in the house from snoops. TOR definitely helps with that, but I can not for the life of me to convince house guests to use it… having it internal on a WiFi router, and just allowing people to connect to that, solves that in a heartbeat.

I ended up getting two Anonabox. One was the original simple version, that’s connected to our home WiFi setup, and guests can connect to it anytime they want. The other is also connected, but I added a timer to it so it shutdown on the office WiFi during business hours. That way I don’t get lag on the VOIP, etc.

Anonabox’s bad Rap:

Anonabox got a bad representation on Kickstarter when it first came out. Part of the reason for that was simple mistakes made by the people behind Anonabox. The images on the Kickstarter campaign included images of a prototype, which were made with off the shelf parts, not what they Kickstarter campaign was suppose to be building, of which all they needed was under $8k. The initial funding was to create the prototype, so it begs the question, how can one come up with a photo of a device if the device is does not yet exist?

What’s more important, is the fact the need for a device like this is so great that Anonabox raised over $500k before Kickstarter killed the fund, in less then four days. There is also a question of why the campaign was placed in the cross hairs to begin with. HackingTeam from Milan, Italy may have had a hand in social engineering the end to the kickstarter1 fund. And the teams history is not a good sign1 2, not to mention connections with the CIA3. In either case, Anonabox did in fact get the funding via Indiegog4.
It has long been known that all governments, many businesses, and even individuals, want to control the information, and privacy on the net.5 Projects similar to Anonabox are under constant attack by these6, and it’s only going to get worse.

TOR Onion:

If you were to map the packets of data that flow through the Tor Onion network7, it would look like this.8
The internet is a vast repository of information, that for the most part is uncensored. This network, has as it’s potential the ability beyond all else to lift communities out of poverty by means of free education and knowledge. Self-Reliance is by far the most important aspect of knowledge, it allows individuals to learn how to do things themselves. It provides for all our needs, literally, by means of learning, experimenting, and sharing that knowledge and experience. There are however draw-backs to the internet, and at it’s heart is the lack of privacy. Individuals have a right to think freely, and come to conclusions and decisions without coercion. Whether it be from the government or employers, or even bad neighbors privacy on the internet is lacking without help.

Although there are many things one can do to protect one’s privacy on the internet, the main exposure comes from traffic analysis. TOR is designed by it’s very nature to deal with this security breach at the out set.

“Traffic analysis is the process of intercepting and examining messages in order to deduce information from patterns in communication. It can be performed even when the messages are encrypted and cannot be decrypted. In general, the greater the number of messages observed, or even intercepted and stored, the more can be inferred from the traffic. Traffic analysis can be performed in the context of military intelligence, counter-intelligence, or pattern-of-life analysis, and is a concern in computer security.” – wikipedia9

TOR not only encrypts the node connection along the route, the path taken is random. This isn’t fool proof to avoid detection, and to de-anonymize the TOR user,10 even when accounting for Java, and privacy enhanced browsers.11 A new improved version of the current TOR protocols is working on a fix for this problem, called riffle12 13, which is due to be released in the near future. Hence the need for a better dark spider here on my blog.

AnonaboxPro also helps with this, as it’s core firmware is upgradeable14. Which means that when riffle goes mainstream, AnonaboxPro is going to keep pace, and all connected systems to it in your home will follow suite. (Documentation and User Guide can be found here)

Besides the dark-spider project, there was also another reason for me to get the Anonabox. My wife and I used to be caravaners. That is to say, we were full time working travelers, and did so for almost 14 years. With my work on the internet being one of my prime sources of income, I was leery of returning to the road, at least for one final trip out of nostalgia, without the needed protection15 when using truck stop WiFi and such. AnonaboxPro definitely helps in that regards.

The Kodi Connection:

Cable Television is dying. Part of this is due to the increase of people using social media and internet in general as their source of entertainment. The other main factor is streaming media. There are programs that can organize streams for users in such as a way that makes cable television obsolete, from MythTV to Kodi. Kodi has the advantage on being able to integrate with Myth-TV, and even torrent feeds, beside in-numerable streaming sources. Privacy is still a concern however. Torrents themselves are not illegal, however some content within the system is, and can lead to ten years in jail16. And even though receiving streaming content is not illegal, it may not be in the future. Most of the time, using a TOR bridge like the one that comes with Anonabox the connection speed is not fast enough to stream live TV via Kodi. My own tests with Kodi and Anonabox show that streaming content from Exodus17 and SALTS18 is do-able, but live TV most of the time craps out via TOR. Anonabox has a fix for that as well. Within the system are options for VPN and HMA(Hide MY Ass). Proxies help keep your connect private, but the best option is to connect your torrent connect to TOR, and just download what you want to your DVR/PVR for viewing via Kodi.

AnonaboxPro:

Considering the fact that I plan on using the AnonaboxPro to index the entire darknet, I can dream can’t I, 650 MHz CPU (Atheros QCA9531 MIPS SoC ), 128MB of RAM, and 64MB of Flash memory did considerably well for my test runs. I actually thought it would be a short on performance, but I forgot that this device just relays the data, doesn’t store it, so the real power is needed in my laptop and tower. The device itself is rather small, only 64mm x 44.5mm x 22.3mm, and only weighs 28 grams. It uses the open source OpenWRT19 and LuCI Linux/POSIX system library (FFLuci formerly for you geeks out there).

My speed tests were only done to see how it would stack up over the TOR network for connections for watching streaming via Kodi. And of that I was only using Exodus as my test runs, instead of SALTS or any other other many options available. I was actually surprised again that most of the time, Kodi worked over the network relay. There was still lag, and if the cache wasn’t set to max it would have been a bother, but it still worked well enough to watch a full movie. That being said, I could not watch a movie, and run the normal other devices I would over the internet at the same time, there just wasn’t enough bandwidth available through the TOR ports. I didn’t use the VPN or HMA on the box, mainly because I already have a VPN service I use for my online work, the other reason was because I wanted to save the free trial offer for a run on darkspider. But I did get up to 3Mbps of speed out of it, which might also have to do with my normal internet being rather fast (I’m one relay from an optic connection).

“However, after pairing the Anonabox Pro with a VPN cert, performance improves immensely. Keep in mind that you’re able to select your target servers when you’re using licensed VPN services. While all of this is occurring, you could not make out connections or traffic, which is the key point.” – futurelooks.com20

Side Notes :

One of the areas of privacy is the issue of trust. Even if the operators of HMA themselves can be trusted, they have been targeted21. If you need secure connection to protect yourself and your passwords while using WiFi hot spots, then feel free to use the hide my ass set up for Anonabox. The other issue is the use of any VPN. If your connection is monitored from a static IP and you only use a VPN, even if it encrypted, your usage on the internet can be monitored and tracked. The packets of information that are transferred between you and the VPN are public, and the connected dots are not that hard to put together for the expert. This goes back to the main issue of traffic analysis. What’s worse, is that the specifics of what you are doing is lacking, and therefore you can be looked at as being guilty by association by law enforcement, many of whom lack the expertise in actual internet law to make a fair judgment, they leave that to the courts.22