In the world of whistleblowers, any packet of revealed identifying information means game over.
ProxyHam, a $200 WiFi router aimed at those seeking the utmost in anonymity, promised to mask users’ IP addresses and place their geographic coordinates miles away from their actual locations. Plans to create the device, set to be unveiled at August’s Las Vegas Def Con convention, were mysteriously axed Friday and the company behind its production, Rhino Security Labs, is giving no further statement.
Ben Caudill, a researcher at Rhino Security Labs, was set to unveil full hardware specs at the conference but has since been removed from the list of speakers at the conference.
From the US to China and beyond, anonymity on the internet is under fire – particularly for whistleblowers. National interests are pushing for greater control and monitoring of internet content, often invoking harsh punishments for informers and journalists, if caught. While a range of technologies (such as ToR) can provide some level of anonymity, a fundamental flaw still exists: a direct relationship between IP address and physical location. If your true IP is ever uncovered, it’s game over – a significant threat when your adversary owns the infrastructure.
To resolve this issue, I present ProxyHam, a hardware device which utilizes both WiFi and the 900Mhz band to act as a hardware proxy, routing local traffic through a far-off wireless network – and significantly increasing the difficulty in identifying the true source of the traffic. In addition to a demonstration of the device itself, full hardware schematics and code will be made freely available.
Given the sudden and unexplained cancellation of development (in addition to the obvious implications for evading online surveillance), many have theorized that the ProxyHam project was killed off by government authorities.
“While it is pure speculation on my part, since no one can speak on record,” Steve Ragan wrote for CSO Online. “It would look as if a higher power – namely the U.S. Government – has put their foot down and killed this talk.”
Rhino Security Labs was not immediately available for a comment.