Anonymous communication with PirateBox

Hoist the Mainsails

Besides the installation instructions, you will find a detailed page with further "Raspberry Pi(rate) Box Mods" in the PirateBox wiki [6]. For example, you can enable a USB WiFi stick if you do not want to use the wireless module built into the RPi3, and you will also find information on how to encrypt the WiFi network provided by PirateBox.

For security reasons, PirateBox isolates the devices logged in over WiFi from one another. In network engineering-speak, this is known as "AP isolation," with the result that data can only be exchanged between participants via PirateBox. In return, isolation provides security against unfriendly access to the client computers. If so desired, you can disable this function with a configuration in the /opt/piratebox/conf/hostapd.conf file (Listing 5).

Listing 5

Disabling AP Isolation

$ sudo sed -i -e 's|ap_isolate=1|#ap_isolate=1|g' /opt/piratebox/conf/hostapd.conf
$ sudo systemctl restart piratebox

If you have run out of small memory cards, and you do not want to waste space on the system SD, you can extend the system to the complete SD card by logging in to PirateBox via SSH and executing the command:

$ sudo /opt/piratebox/rpi/bin/sdcard_share.sh

After a brief moment, the complete storage capacity of the SD card is available under /mnt/sdshare.

Lessons Learned

PirateBox is suitable for users who want to make an anonymous file server available to friends and acquaintances at meetings. The developers have designed the system to work without logins, and it works independently of the locally available network infrastructure: Using the Raspberry Pi's wireless LAN adapter, it sets up its own network. Additionally, PirateBox does not keep any logbooks, so it cannot trace who is chatting, has what nickname, is writing forum posts, or is loading data into the treasure chest.

Application scenarios include, for example, musicians and bands who want to offer their fans individual tracks for download at concerts or pop-up gigs. A power bank is all you need to supply the Raspberry Pi with electricity. Teachers could provide their students with a fast and easy way to use a server for projects, and presenters could use PirateBox to provide materials for a conference.

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