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.