A device that promised to mask your location online by putting you up to 2.5 miles away from your router made headlines in security circles earlier this month, with write-ups in Wired, Motherboard, and BGR (and here at Business Insider.) But it looks like the device will never see the light of day: As CSO Online reports, the entire project has now been cancelled under mysterious circumstances.
ProxyHam (as the device was called) was essentially a router broadcasting on a 900MHz connection, letting the owner - with the right antenna - connect from up to several miles away. It could be stashed in any public place with an internet connection (think library/coffee shop/co-working space) and then utilised by the owner. That way, even if the router itself is tracked down, its owner won't necessarily be discovered.
It was being built by Ben Caudill, founder of security consultancy Rhino Security Labs. Like with any anonymising tool, the potential for abuse by criminals evading law enforcement was obvious. But Caudill framed it as a boon to whistleblowers. Scheduled to formally unveiled at the Las Vegas Defcon conference in August, it was described as the event page like so:
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.