The privacy software Tor has aided everything from drug dealing marketplaces to whistleblowing websites in evading surveillance on the darknet. Now that same software can be applied to a far more personal form of security: keeping hackers out of your toaster.
You can still get to your baby monitor via an app or the web, but a potential hacker won’t even be able to find it.
On Wednesday, the privacy-focused non-profit Guardian Project, a partner of the Tor Project that maintains and develops the Tor anonymity network, announced a new technique it’s developed to apply Tor’s layers of encryption and network stealth to protecting so-called “Internet of things” or “smart home” devices. That growing class of gadgets, ranging from refrigerators to lightbulbs to security cameras, are connected to the Internet to make possible new forms of remote management and automation. They also, as the security research community has repeatedly demonstrated, enable a new breed of over-the-Internet attacks, such as the rash of hackers harassing infants via baby monitors or the potential for hackers to steal your Gmail password from your fridge.
Here’s how it works: the Guardian Project turned a simple Raspberry Pi mini-computer into a smart hub running the open-source software called HomeAssistant software and acts as a so-called Tor hidden service, the same application of Tor that obscures the location of servers running dark web sites. The result, says Guardian Project director Nathan Freitas, is a far stealthier and more secure way to connect your smart home to the Internet, while still keeping it safe from potential digital attacks. “All we did was pull these pieces together to demonstrate a proof-of-concept for the role Tor can play in your home,” says Freitas, who’s also a …