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Pogoplug launches Tor-powered Safeplug

Pogoplug launches Tor-powered Safeplug

The Safeplug, Pogoplug's latest low-power Linux-based network appliance, is designed to route all internet access over the anonymising Tor network.

Pogoplug, famous for its self-hosted cloud devices, has thrown its hat into the security and privacy ring with the launch of the Tor-powered Safeplug network appliance.

Powered by an embedded Linux installation, as with the company's eponymous Pogoplug cloud storage products, the Safeplug is designed to be connected to a home network router in order to encrypt and transmit all software across the Tor network. Also known as The Onion Router Project, Tor aims to improve privacy by causing a user's web traffic to appear to originate from random IP addresses using a network of peer-to-peer nodes.

The technology isn't without its flaws, with traffic vulnerable to being spied upon by a malicious network exit node if full end-to-end encryption is not in use, but is generally considered to be a useful means of improving privacy online - especially in nations like China, where it can be used to evade state monitoring and censorship.

Setting Tor up on a desktop or laptop isn't terribly difficult for a reasonably technical-minded user, but support for the burgeoning smart devices market is less common. That's where Pogoplug's Safeplug comes in: connected to the router and correctly configured, the device sends all network traffic - regardless of originating device - over the Tor network invisibly and silently. Whether it's a desktop, a smartphone or even a network-connected TV or Blu-ray player, the system will route its traffic via Tor - and, in a move that's likely to garner criticism, also filter out web-based advertising as an added bonus. For those who wish to expand the Tor network, the Safeplug can also be configured as an exit node - with the warning that some exit node operators have had their equipment seized by law enforcement officials during investigations into illegal material transmitted over the Tor network.

'Most users who write reviews, share information about their work place, or post responses to blog posts do not realise that their IP address is the only information needed to pinpoint their exact physical location with a shocking degree of accuracy,' claimed Daniel Putterman, Pogoplug's co-founder and chief executive, in a somewhat over-zealous sales pitch at the launch. 'Consumers have a right to keep their home addresses and browsing details private, especially from unknown agencies. Safeplug is the first plug-and-play product that instantly protects consumers by restoring web and location privacy.'

The company is currently selling the Safeplug directly from its website in the US for $49 (around £30 excluding taxes) with no word yet as to UK availability.

3 Comments

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Cthippo 25th November 2013, 12:41 Quote
Interesting. What kind of latency does it add?
Corky42 25th November 2013, 12:51 Quote
Seeing as how TOR is firmly in the sites of David Cameron i wouldn't be surprised if systems like TOR become illegal one day. People are already calling for it to be outlawed.

As DC has tasked GCHQ in partnership with the NSA to monitor the internet and crack TOR you maybe painting a big target on your head when they detect you are using encryption, proxies, or other security measures.
Gareth Halfacree 25th November 2013, 13:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cthippo
Interesting. What kind of latency does it add?
Lots. Lots and lots and lots. This ain't a great test, 'cos my ADSL is playing silly beggars this morning (95ms ping is usual), but here's what I get when I'm not using Tor: 6.2Mb/s down, 0.7Mb/s up, 295ms ping. Switch over to Tor, and: 1.18Mb/s down, 0.98Mb/s up, 816ms ping. Now, that's worst-case results: the longer you're on the Tor network, the better your connection - like any other peer-to-peer network. Still, you're looking at an easy trebling of your latency even when the throughput is better. Also, any given stream will only be as fast as the slowest node in the chain. Got some daft beggar running a proxy or exit node on a 56K modem? That's how fast your connection will be if you're unlucky enough to get that in the chain.

Oh, and the reason my upstream is better running Tor? The encryption process includes compression, which artificially boosts the result. Ideally, Speedtest.net would use uncompressable data for the test - but for some reason it doesn't.
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