Rhino Security has suddenly pulled the plug on its “ProxyHam” Wi-Fi relay project and withdrawn from the upcoming DefCon conference.
The company's Bun Cuadill made the “announcement” in the way most likely to send conspiracists hyperventilating: a couple of Twitter messages that offered no explanation.
Since the aim of ProxyHam was to help people evade tracking by putting some distance between the user and the Wi-Fi access point they were using, the statement plus the cryptic “can't go into further details” that followed was bound to make people wonder about the FBI, the NSA, the CIA or the FCC being responsible.
The device acted as a point-to-point bridge using 900 MHz signals to distance a user from the access point they're logged into. This would prevent cops or feds from noting the location of a hotspot used by a person of interest - say in a Starbucks - and arresting them at that location.
But Robert Graham, over at Errata Security, isn't having any of the conspiracist ideation.
Effective immediately, we are halting further dev on #proxyham and will not be releasing any further details or source for the device— Rhino Security Labs (@RhinoSecurity) July 10, 2015
For a start, Graham writes, when ProxyHam first pitched its wares, none of us noticed that attaching a Raspberry Pi to a 900MHz Ubiquiti bridge (with a directional Yagi antenna) didn't warrant quite the attention the device received.
Graham finds – and so does Vulture South – the idea that the FBI would hit the roof about simple and basic technology “implausible”.
Rather than the illegality or otherwise of relaying a connection over 900 MHz, it is possible that lawyers, rather than law enforcement, are to blame. Perhaps Rhino hadn't cut a resale deal with Ubiquiti?
And the FCC does have rules governing the 900 MHz band. El Reg would idly wonder if ProxyHam might have overlooked the rule saying that if you use a directional antenna, you have to reduce your transmit power. ®