Readers may remember the ProxyHam device described last week, which was to be presented at DefCon on Friday. The device would enable a user to be a great distance away from a WiFi access point, and then utilize Tor and other masking services, to make it incredibly difficult to actually locate someone connecting to the Internet through the device.
However, at the last minute, Rhino Security Labs, the company of Ben Caudill, who is the creator of the ProxyHam, canceled the talk at DefCon and made clear that both the prototype and its code would never be made available to the public. Caudill was not forthcoming as to what had caused this sudden decision, although the FCC getting involved was mentioned by several on Twitter. When Steve Ragan asked Caudill whether this was the cause, Caudill responded that the FCC had nothing to do with it. Further, Caudill specified that the company had already been within regulations for a demonstration, and was looking into getting licensing for real models. A minor fine for activities at a hacking convention wouldn’t be enough to shut down something of this magnitude permanently, one would think, and certainly Caudill says that the FCC was not the cause.
Which makes it difficult to determine what could be the true reason to cancel such a widely publicized and innovative product launch. Interest in the ProxyHam was quick and excitable in the security communities, including here at Hacked. Since there are no official details to go on besides the fact that Ben Caudill is never going to unveil the ProxyHam in public, let’s get into conspiracy territory a little.
The Two Government Conspiracy Possibilities
There are two possible scenarios where the government has gotten involved. The first is that the government is simply leaning on Rhino and Caudill, making sure they know that if they go forward with this, the government will make their lives very difficult, potentially landing them in jail down the line. This is the most typical way that governments interact with technologists doing things they don’t like, except in cases where such companies are bigger than the governments, in which case the governments just sort of keep begging until they get what they want.
Also read: Quantum Satellite To Revolutionize Telecoms
The other scenario is that the government has bought the technology, part and parcel, and all rights and intellectual property associated with it, from Caudill. This would explain why, even after having to shut down the talk, they won’t make the code and designs public. If this technology works as advertised, it could obviously have a lot of applications for police and military organizations, as well as the CIA, potentially having high-speed communications in areas where previously it was difficult to get a vehicle. Yes, the government could find such technology as the ProxyHam to be incredibly useful, and made a last-minute move to acquire it from Caudill.
Then there are others who could have made the same move, such as larger companies and smaller governments. All of these statements are made without knowing anything at all about Caudill and Rhino. However, given the nature of the talk Caudill was supposed to give, and the anti-censorship nature of the technology, the most likely scenario is the first: he’s been told to stand down, by someone, and if he doesn’t, his life will be a living hell.
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One year ago Hacked covered the race between the US and China to develop “military super-powers” by harnessing quantum science, and noted that Chinese scientists were developing quantum communication satellites that support unbreakable encryption. A few weeks ago, China launched its first quantum satellite.
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