This Physical Filter Helps Protect Online Privacy

Winston protects everything in your house that uses the internet.

Richard Stokes was the “Global Head of Innovation for the media intelligence division of the world’s largest advertising agency”, and was startled by the amount of private information that was being sold to companies. Purchases, relationships, media consumed and secrets texted could all be stored in the cloud and then treated as commodity to buy or sell. He assembled a team of engineers, programmers, and designers to find a way to safeguard data and Winston is their solution to data insecurity. Winston is a plug and play hardware filter to keep internet use private for all of the devices that connect at home, and currently finishing out an incredibly successful Kickstarter funding campaign.

Winston protects all connected devices in a home – the campaign page shows cellphones, smart speakers, televisions, video game consoles, smart televisions, robot vacuums, doorbells, thermostats and smart lighting. The page claims that Winston can protect against Facebook spying, ad tracking, mass surveillance, airline ticket bumps, and price manipulations. Several configurations are recommended, placing Winston between the modem and computers, or between the modem and routers. A special note is added to say that all-in-one modem router units will not be protected and a second router is recommended. An online dashboard gives users a chance to see trackers and ads blocked through the system, change privacy settings, and check the health of your network. A Winston unit is 117 x 117 x 66.85 millimeters in size and can be set up vertically with a kickstand or set flat. The system uses a Linux operating system, ARM A53 Marvell Armada processor, and has 1 GigaByte of DDR4 memory.

In the age of cloud controls it’s novel to see an internet safety device that is so strongly rooted in the physical realm, using electronics along with programming to serve its purpose. The last time I attended a cybersecurity presentation one of the speakers said “if it has electrons, we can get into it” and that phrase has stuck with me for a few years. Several backers in the incredibly busy comment section of this campaign have expressed concerns over longterm testing of the device and its security protocols, and I’m looking forward to following up with this project in a year to see its progress. The campaign has blown past its meager funding goal and ends on June 30, 2019.