Using Beaglebone Black as a secure Tor gateway for your computer. by Adam Melton
The user (you) has to take everything into account in order to use Tor to its full potential. Thankfully there are projects out there that make this much easier by taking the burden off the user and allowing for some mistakes. I believe that Anonabox was attempting to be this type of project. Below are two projects worth learning about.
TAILS – This is an operating system that you can boot from CD or USB storage. Tails allows the user to use Tor on most any machine and does not leave a trace on the local system.
WHONIX – This is a pair of virtual machine images. One virtual machine connects to the internet and Tor, the other VM connects to the first VM and is only allowed access to Tor (not the internet). This prevents something like a malicious PDF from identifying who you are when it attempts to reach the internet. This is what we are trying to emulate.
Other – There are other project worth mentioning. You can find a great list here.
The BeagleBone Black is a small 1GHZ ARM-based computer for hobbyists and tinkers. The current revision has 4GB of onboard flash storage, a microsd card slot, and 512MB DDR3 RAM among many other features. It is the size of a credit card and packs a punch while maintain a very reasonable price point. It is similar to the popular Raspberry Pi but better for this application.
One of the interesting things about the BeagleBone Black (BBB) is that it has a mini-usb port that, when plugged into a computer, it can; provide power to the unit, show up as removable storage on the host computer, and it can be an Ethernet adapter, all at the same time. The BBB is even a dhcp server for the Ethernet network that it sets up.
Why the BBB and not the Raspberry Pi?
The BBB has several advantages for this application. It has a faster processor, it uses an ARM 8 processor which is officially supported by Debian (The RPi has to use rasbian), and is generally faster due to the DDR3 ram and onboard SSD.
The goal of this project is to create a device that allows a computer to connect to Tor without being able to connect to the internet. This should also be relatively simple to setup and use. This is not as simple as using the Tor Browser but it is capabale of being more fault tolerant and secure.
The BBB is currently on revision C. The main difference between it and my revision B board is that the C has 4GB onboard storage where my B has only 2GB and that it is running Debian instead of Angstrom linux.
Each Tuesday is BeagleBone Black Day here Adafruit! What is the BeagleBone? The BeagleBones are a line of affordable single-board Linux computers (SBCs) created by Texas Instruments. New to the Bone? Grab one of our Adafruit BeagleBone Black Starter Packs and check out our extensive resources available on the Adafruit Learning System including a guide to setting up the Adafruit BeagleBone IO Python Library. We have a number of Bone accessories including add-on shields (called “capes”) and USB devices to help you do even more with your SBC. Need a nice display to go along with your Bone? Check out our fine selection of HDMI displays, we’ve tested all of them with the Beagle Bone Black!