Making yourself anonymous online

WASHINGTON — Posting without signing your name doesn’t guarantee anonymity on the Web.

A new Kickstarter project aims to allow users to quickly and inexpensively use the powerful Tor anonymity network software.

In the past, using the Tor software with anything more than Web browsing required advanced technical set-up.

As reported in Wired, the $45 open-source anonabox router directs all data that connects to it by ethernet or Wi-Fi through the Tor network, hiding the user’s IP address.

In addition to providing portability for users who want to work securely in a cybercafe, the device would enable users to avoid censorship in countries such as China.

The anonabox setup is easy:

1. Run a cable from the anonabox to a user’s router.

2. Plug in the USB power cable, wait for it to power up, then connect wirelessly or with an Ethernet cable to a device of choice.

Is it really possible to be anonymous?

The anonabox isn’t the first project to integrate Tor into a router, but experts say it’s the smallest and easiest unit to date.

However, the anonabox alone won’t fully protect a user’s privacy, says Micah Lee, lead technologist for The Intercept.

If a person uses the same browser for anonymous and normal Internet activities, websites can use “browser fingerprinting” techniques such as cookies to identify the user.

One of the designers of anonabox, August Germar, tells Wired the device is designed to be used to help shield activists and journalists. He and his friends began thinking of the device around the time of Arab Spring in 2010.

With its small size and low price, it can be easily destroyed if needed, he says. “Maybe … the police are downstairs, so you smash the box with a brick and throw the pieces out the window, or you crush it by stepping on it with your shoe and flush the pieces down the toilet.”

See the anonabox Kickstarter video:

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