- Relatively easy to setup
- Encrypts and hides your connection
- Compatible with other VPN certs
- Could bundle a 6' patch cable
- High latency and low bandwidth performance
Anonymity and security are two key desires for those who don’t want their data mined, profiled, or monitored on the Internet. While some feel that it’s no business of search engines and ISPs, others are more worried about personal security. Whatever your reasons, without a VPN (virtual private network), your activity could be seen by others. This is especially true for people who connect to the Tor (The Onion Router) network. That’s where the Anonabox Pro comes in handy.
The Anonabox Pro is a hardware-based consumer VPN solution intended to provide a level of anonymity and security for anything you’re up to on the Internet, but particularly for anything you're doing on the Tor network. The unit essentially acts as a VPN gateway which encrypts your connection while anonymizing your system. We got our hands on the tiny unit to test its capabilities. Have a look at our experience and learn a few new concepts before playing on the dark web.
Features and Specifications
The Anonabox Pro is very small. It's roughly 2-inches long and 1.5-inches wide and 1-inch thick. It's so compact and light that you wonder how can it possibly have any components inside. The physical features are simple.
- Mini USB powered
- WAN and LAN ports
- USB 2.0 port (for additional storage)
- Reset button (requires reconfiguration)
- Integrated Wi-Fi (in the Pro model)
- Web based graphical interface
- Offers System, Network, Administration, Firewall, SSH, VPN, Keys, Wireless, MAC control, Status, Services control, DHCP and DNS options.
The literature includes a small user manual, which unfortunately isn’t very thorough, and two cards for a 30-day trial for an external VPN software service. I’ll explain why you may want one of these VPNs in the “Connecting to Tor” section later.
How Do I Use It?
There are a couple of ways to utilize the Anonabox Pro. It can be plugged directly into your modem at home, the office, or a hotel. Or, the "Abox" can be plugged into the WAN port of your provider’s modem/router. Either works, but you should consider a few things first.
The Anonabox Pro will likely not be received well at work given the risks associated with the Tor network. That’s the primary network where people go (among other things) to pay for a ransonware encryption key. A responsible company will very likely block any Tor access, not allow VPNs within the network, and have a policy against shadow IT. If not, they aren’t practicing IT security at all!
That leaves home and on the road at hotels, which are more likely use cases. At home, connect a CAT5 from your PC or switch to the Anonabox Pro, or connect via Wi-Fi. Connect to 192.168.19.134:1776 (default) in the browser. You will have to create a new administrator password and setup the Wi-Fi connection with its password. Remember to click the Save & Apply at the bottom. Otherwise, it’s not secured.
Wireshark was used during the exploration and evaluation of the Anonabox Pro. I looked for the transition from standard non-VPN activity to Tor network use, as well as confirmation that the system was now producing verifiable VPN traffic.