Mobile privacy is crucial in an age when a majority of online activity occurs on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. But staying private and secure while on the go also creates special challenges, which are what a new open-source, crowd-funded mobile VPN and Tor solution called InvizBox Go aims to resolve.
InvizBox Go is a pocket-sized device that becomes a personal router for your online traffic. It also offers a slew of built-in privacy features, including a VPN service, Tor support and HTTPS Everywhere encryption.
The device works by connecting to a normal wifi network, then creating a second, private network of its own. You connect your phones, tablet or laptop to the private network. Then, all traffic from your devices is routed through InvizBox Go, where it can be protected by whichever privacy features you choose to enable.
The InvizBox Go is the revamped, mobile-ready successor to a stationary router launched by the same group of entrepreneurs. The older device, called simply InvizBox, required an ethernet connection and was mainly designed to add an extra layer of privacy on top of wired connections.
In contrast, InvizBox Go needs only a wifi connection. It’s portable and designed to play nicely with the peculiarities of public wifi networks — such as the requirement on many of them to click a box agreeing to terms and conditions before accessing the Internet. Those features make the InvizBox Go an easy solution for browsing privately while on the go, even from a network as insecure as public wifi in a coffee shop.
To be sure, InvizBox go isn’t a radically new idea. x.o. ware, for example, does something similar by building a VPN tunnel from your mobile devices back to your home network.
However, InvizBox stands out for two main reasons. First, the software is fully open-source, which makes it that much easier to trust. Second, the device offers not just one privacy tool, but a range from which users can choose. It does more than provide just Tor or VPN protection.
The device also wins points in our book for convenience. By providing a single gateway that you can add to your network to enable all of the privacy services you like, it not only offers privacy while on the go, but also simplifies the setup involved in privatizing a network with many different devices.
If you use multiple phones and computers, a device like InvizBox Go could come in handy by obviating the need to install Tor, a VPN client, browser extensions and the like on each of your devices. Generally speaking, as long as you route everything through InvizBox Go, you’re secure.
As a bonus, the device can also charge your phones and tablets by tethering its power connection to them.
There’s just one possible drawback: to use a VPN on InvizBox Go, you have to sign up for the service offered by the device’s backers. You can’t use any VPN.
InvizBox Go is not yet on sale, but the developers aim to launch by February 2016. They started a Kickstarter campaign last week to help fund development.