Tor at the Heart: NetAidKit
During the month of December, we're highlighting other organizations and projects that rely on Tor, build on Tor, or are accomplishing their missions better because Tor exists. Check out our blog each day to learn about our fellow travelers. And please support the Tor Project! We're at the heart of Internet freedom.
by Menso Heus
The NetAidKit is a USB-powered router that connects to your wired or wireless network and helps you increase your privacy and beat online censorship for all your devices. Acting as a friendly man-in-the-middle, the NetAidKit is able to send all your network traffic over a VPN or Tor connection without needing to configure any of your devices. This also means that if you have specific hardware devices that are unable to run Tor, you can simple connect them to the NetAidKit to make all the traffic go over Tor anyway.
Free Press Unlimited and Radically Open Security developed the NetAidKit specifically for non-technical users, and the NetAidKit comes with an easy to use web interface that allows users to connect to Tor or upload OpenVPN configuration files and connect to VPN networks.
The NetAidKit transparently routes traffic over Tor. We believe this is a great (and free) way to circumvent censorship, but it obviously does not provide the same anonymity benefits that the Tor Browser Bundle provides. This is something we warn users about specifically every time they connect to Tor, recommending they also the Tor Browser Bundle if they wish to remain anonymous.
At the same time, by routing all traffic over Tor, NetAidKit provides a tool for users' e-mail, social media clients and other network applications to run over Tor as well, providing Tor's benefits to applications other than a browser.
The NetAidKit runs on OpenWRT and uses the OpenWRT tor client. Current challenges include getting the obfuscating protocols to work on the NetAidKit since it has a limited storage capacity. We hope that in 2017 we can improve Tor support further by collaborating with the Tor Project.
Off the top of my head, without looking at the documentation,
1. You don't need to buy a power cable, SD card, WiFi card (except Pi 3), or case
2. You don't need to consume an extra USB port for power
3. You don't need to install any OS on the SD card using another Linux machine or image writer application
4. You don't need an HDMI compatible monitor/TV or serial port to perform the initial setup (enabling SSH)
5. You don't need to install the Tor package, enable the systemd service, and edit torrc (to listen on non-loopback ports)
6. You might not need to manually updates
Although personally I would just use a Raspberry Pi if I needed a dedicated hardware device for some reason, for many people it is easier to use one of these boxes.