Staying private on the Internet has become a big concern for many and a problem for certain government agencies. The Edward Snowden leaks revealed a trove of data on government spying, and since then companies have moved to further encrypt data and many devices have cropped up promising high security. ProxyHam is one of those devices. The maker described the device as a hardware proxy that could be planted somewhere like your local cafe; it would use radio connections to transmit the signal up to 2.5 miles away, leaving the Internet user safely hidden. Now the project has been cancelled under bizarre circumstances.
ProxyHam’s creator Ben Caudill was planning to show off his device at the upcoming DefCon conference in Las Vegas, but now all of that is gone. Rhino Security Labs, the company run by ProxyHam’s creator, announced in a tweet that the project had been cancelled as well as the DefCon talk, and that we won’t get to know why…and not because it doesn’t want us to, but apparently because it isn’t allowed to tell us.
The tweet was posted on July 10, and it reads:
It followed that up with a comment reading: “Can’t go into too much more detail, but are immediately shutting down all #proxyham research.” As well as another that reads, “No, Proxyham was not sold but can’t go into any further details on the research or corresponding @_defcon_ talk.”
Even more unusual is a tweet indicating that all the existing ProxyHam devices are being destroyed:
Everything was apparently fine as of July 7, as previous tweets on the Rhino account were still discussing DefCon plans up to that day as if all was going well. In a statement to Wired, Caudill said, “I can’t say much, which is unfortunate. It’s frustrating for me and for the team as a whole.”
He did drop some hints, though: DefCon didn’t cancel the talk, and he said speculation that the FCC blocked the device over its radio functionality is also wrong. When asked if law enforcement was involved, his response was far more telling. He simply said, “No comment.”