ArmorVPN is a clever box that sits between your modem and router securing your connection
The VPN is a wonderful thing, but it's a pain to maintain. ArmorVPN is a little black box that aims to simplify the process. Enter your VPN details through the touchscreen on top, and then connect directly to ArmorVPN: no more setting up individual apps for every device. If the VPN you're connecting to fails, the device can trigger a kill switch if you like.
“I began to develop this idea when I became frustrated while trying to set up a reliable kill switch,” ArmorVPN's creator Bryan Childers tells me via email. “I started working on it in earnest when I was helping a friend set up a VPN on a series of devices, and realised how cumbersome it was to make sure they were all configured properly. That's when I decided it would be easier to just connect the router to the VPN, and began to streamline this device and make it absolutely simple to use.”
ArmorVPN is portable, with an eight-hour battery life, so you don't have to confine it to the home, making it perfect for travelling. If you don't have a VPN of choice, some of the delivery options come complete with a subscription to PureVPN. Although it should work with almost every VPN of your choice: “ArmorVPN is compatible with all VPN services I've looked into so far, including several free services,” Childers explains, adding that it also works with TOR if that's your preference. In short, any service that uses OpenVPN or OpenConnect should work without fuss.
“The software that runs on this device will also be released as open source once a patent is secured on the hardware, which will allow anyone to adapt it for a variety of uses, as well as allow any security flaws to be discovered faster than if a limited team of people had access,” Childers adds.
Why should I care?
If you've ever thought “I really should set up a VPN” but then been put off by the sheer complexity of it all, this is for you. One device will sort out all your connections with as little maintenance as possible.
Or, to put it in Childers' words: “ArmorVPN makes it as easy as possible to use a VPN, so you can preserve your online privacy and security.”
How much and when would I get it?
Right now, the cheapest you can get ArmorVPN for is $US60 – and for that, you simply get the device, a power cable, an ethernet cable and a USB wall adapter. If you're prepared to stretch to $US105 you'll get the same with a year's worth of VPN subscription. Up it to $US140 and you'll get a lifetime VPN subscription.
Whatever option you pick, you're looking at a delivery date of January 2018, so not too long to wait.
Is there anything else like ArmorVPN out there?
There is, but options tend to be expensive and more complicated – designed for enterprise customers who have whole businesses to protect. Something like this which simplifies the process for home use is something of a rarity.
The options similar to ArmorVPN seem to come from related crowdfunds. Shellfire Box VPN router is a box that got funded via Indiegogo (but lacks the touchscreen), while the Anonabox found fame through Kickstarter, but eventually had to find funding elsewhere after it was booted from the site following developer criticism.
How risky is backing ArmorVPN?
As ever with crowdfunding, there is no such thing as a guaranteed product. The end result may not be what's promised, might never see the light of day, or might disappoint in another way. Only pay what you can afford to lose.
In ArmorVPN's case, Childers tells me this is his first crowdfunding venture, but that he “did some research into both successful and not so successful crowdfunds” so he knew “a bit of what to expect, as well as the pitfalls to avoid.” The fact he has a 100% working prototype is encouraging: “The main challenge was ensuring ArmorVPN has as little impact on internet speeds as possible, which is why I am using gigabit speed Ethernet ports, as well as streamlining the software, and using a processor that can handle the demand,” he explains.
That said, it is possible that a January launch is optimistic given the level of backing he's had – raising $US34,048 from an initial goal of $US11,000 at the time of writing.