PrivacySafe: The Anti-Cloud Appliance

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/09/10/privacysafe-the-anti-cloud-ap.html

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“BTCPay Bitcoin payment processing. Avoid payment fees, forever!”

…err, no I don’t think so. Crypto fees, BC in particular are a thing.

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My 1974 Dodge Pick-Up is a The Anti-Cloud Appliance!

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My c. 1960 Sunbeam CG-1 waffle iron occasionally emits a cloud, but I think that’s a different problem.

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If I install this at a friend’s house and connect to it over the internet, does it still work?

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The last 74 Dodge I saw was very much pro-cloud, emitting great black plumes wherever it went!

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Project founder here. BTCPay runs locally on the device, has 0% fees and no third-party. I suppose you can say it’s a bit of puffery since we can’t promise no fees in every purchasing context.

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Yes. There are three configuration options: local network only, DNS addressing, and Tor hidden services (.onion addressing, the most anonymous and secure). We’re working on mesh networking as well, but have it set as a stretch goal because we need to do much more development.

At any rate, you’ll be able to connect to the device nearly anywhere in the world with Tor. With the usual caveats that come with Tor, of course.

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Can you break down what exactly this thing does? I see it’s a beaglebone board (at least from the existing schematics) with a case and a solid state drive. That’s probably a hundred bucks of hardware (at consumer cost) or so, depending on what the going rate for 250GB SSDs is.

Is this essentially just a small NAS with local encryption options? Or does it work like a PiHole where it’s a proxy for network traffic?

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So what kind of cpu is it running? Is it actually an open design, or is it just something without Intel’s management engine and speculative execution problems?

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We’re running an ARM chipset, no Intel anything. See https://github.com/beagleboard/beaglebone-ai/wiki/System-Reference-Manual#am572x-sitara-processor

It is Open Hardware, currently under review for Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA) certification, which we don’t expect to be a problem since it’s a BeagleBoard.org board (new board called the BeagleBone AI, we’re the first product using it).

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We’re trying to release the product as close to cost as possible, and are also building a USB 3.0 hub as an expansion/daughterboard with two Type A connectors and a Type C connector.

We don’t have it proxying network connections like a PiHole, though it can certainly be configured to do that. Not within our current development scope but also one of the reasons we have a Dev Kit option (to gauge community support for features and shape our roadmap).

It is a NAS with local encryption but it also communicates to other PrivacySafe devices via the 3NWeb protocol and, optionally, to datacenters using the PrivacySync (3NWeb) service. https://github.com/3nsoft/3nweb-protocols

Three configurations are currently possible: local network only, IP address / DNS resolution, or Tor hidden services (.onion). If we reach our goals, mesh networking will follow shortly.

A plugin UI will allow for configuration of everything else via a Web browser on the local network. From a local security standpoint, the relevant plugins are a network monitor (to detect DDoS etc.), malware detection for files on the device (ClamFS and clamd), and we’re working on a bluetooth monitor (to detect local bluetooth devices and iBeacon / Eddystone BLE beacons). If we reach our stretch goals, we’ll also have the Mozilla WebThings Gateway running as a plugin and will work to expand the security features of that to detect potentially malicious IoT devices in proximity.

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Thank you for the detailed explanation. This is a cool project that I wholeheartedly support.

While I grok the potential evils of “the cloud” my question was a tiny bit tongue in cheek, since a remotely hosted computer is the literal definition of cloud.

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Cloud is an interesting marketing term because it was always intended to evoke an amorphous, smokescreen for “let us handle it on our computers and network infrastructure” by Big Tech. What it has come to embody is surveillance. So, our anti-cloud is designed to empower users and give back what they have given away to “the cloud”… starting with data storage.

We all want to be able to connect to a trustworthy filesystem remotely and not be spied on, or have to worry that network actors have access to our secrets and behavior/activity.

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Please forgive me if this is a stupid question, but couldn’t you just buy an air-isolated hard drive of several TB and never access it from a computer that was connected to a network either by cable or wifi?

I guess I don’t really understand what this thing is, and I may be at a point in my life at which it is not possible to explain it to me. I do know enough not to use clouds, however, and to only buy dumb appliances.

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You’re talking about airgapped scenarios. Most people are backing up their photos and documents to untrustworthy services, especially for collaboration with others.

Are you sayin’ there are them computers what talks to each other now? Maybe there’s a problem with that, in general I mean. Where is that danged cloud anyway? Can you go visit your stuff there?

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$199 for the Dev Kit and $299 for the full product.

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Yup, jest lahk them thar storagin units, ceptin a little bigger!

:rofl: 

I sit corrected. Thanks!