Thursday, March 21, 2013

Meet Jeremy Elliott of NinjaStik

Imagine being able to write a blog anonymously, post tweets and comments anonymously, and browse any website anonymously. The NinjaStik offers online security and anonymity in 60 seconds. Simple, secure, and portable, the NinjaStik allows users to blog, browse, comment, shop, and tweet anonymously--quickly and easily. The NinjaStik looks like an ordinary USB flash drive: just plug it in, turn on the computer, and in 60 seconds you are online and anonymous.

The NinjaStik does not require any sign-up or registration, and there are no recurring fees, limitations, or additional costs. The only requirements are a computer and an Internet connection (wired or wifi). The NinjaStik can be used anytime, anywhere--protecting security, identity, and online activity.

Built on a USB 3.0 flash drive, the NinjaStik is fully encrypted with a 256bit encryption key, ensuring that only the user has access. Users can also save bookmarks, documents, emails, videos, and pictures--any data saved to the NinjaStik is completely secure. This is the same encryption level used by governments and the military to secure top secret data. It also leaves no trace on the host computer that it was ever used with a NinjaStik.

The interview below is with Jeremy Elliott.

1. What gave you the idea to develop the NinjaStik?

The NinjaStik is the direct result of my curiosity and my stubbornness. Curiosity lead me to learning about online anonymity and various methods of trying to protect your online identity. All of the other solutions out there required that you have a lot of technical knowledge, great patience, and time to spend "tinkering" to make them work. I believe that great products should be simple and intuitive to use. I have no idea how my dvd player actually works, but I use it every day--it's very simple and easy to use. My stubbornness came into play when I tried to make online anonymity and security simple and easy to use. The NinjaStik is the result of months and months of building, refining, testing, and refining again. Each time I encountered an aspect that required a user to spend time or require technical knowledge, I would often spend weeks developing a solution that would make it simple, intuitive and still be effective. Sometimes stubbornness pays off.

The final result is "plug and play" anonymity and data security with the NinjaStik.

2. For the layperson who is concerned about protecting his/her identity online but doesn't have a lot of tech know-how, could you explain how your product works?

Sure, simply put, NinjaStik anonymizes your IP address. Your IP address is a lot like your home address or your telephone number: it is the number that identifies your connection to the internet. The IP address also works in the same manner that a home address or telephone number can be used to show who you are and where you are. Every website you visit, every email, tweet, and post you send out has your IP address attached to it. Think about it this way: would you give your home address to every website you visited this week?

The other great feature is that any data saved to your NinjaStik is fully encrypted. Anything you save to the NinjaStik, bookmarks, images, documents, even your browsing history, is protected with 256 bit encryption. If your NinjaStik is lost, stolen or confiscated, no one will be able to access the data saved on it. 256 bit encryption has not been hacked or cracked by anyone in the world--this includes governments, military agencies, and criminals. Your data is very, very safe on a NinjaStik.

3. What is the TOR network, and why do people choose to use it?

To anonymize your IP address and protect you, the NinjaStik uses the TOR network. TOR is The Onion Routing network. In addition to anonymizing your IP address it also encrypts the data flowing to and from your computer.

Tor works like this:

Just like the internet itself, the TOR network was originally developed by the US military. It was designed to allow communication between two points without identifying the location of the users. By using encryption, it also protects your data from being monitored.

TOR is used by many people, groups, and organizations around the world to protect them from hostile governments and authorities.

--Human rights organizations use TOR to protect them when reporting abuse.
--Journalists use TOR to protect their sources and communication.
--Business people use TOR to protect valubale company data and communications.
--Travelers use TOR to prevent their data and identity from being stolen.
--Ordinary citizens who are subject to unfair, undemocratic internet censorship are using TOR everyday.

Anonymity and security is important whether you are an anonymous blogger, an executive with sensitive business data, a person on vacation, a student behind a firewall, or just an ordinary person that doesn't want to be monitored.

4. Why might people need to protect their anonymity online?

A great example is traveling--the risks to your data are even higher when traveling--when you may be using unfamiliar computers and unknown wifi and internet connections, or you may be in a country that censors the internet. Simply checking your bank account while traveling can to lead to theft, fraud, and long term loss. I've written a blog post that goes into this in greater depth, but it is a serious and very real threat to anyone traveling--whether traveling across the planet or just across town.

Another great example is online reviews; there have been a few recent court cases where a customer left a poor review online of a business or service they used. The business then decided to sue. By using the court process they were able to demand the customer's online history from their internet service provider, match the IP address of the review with the person, and then sue for making a damaging comment.

The ISP and the website owners had no choice--faced with a massive lawsuit and vague laws, they handed over the data--and the user's IP address and connection information were then used in the court case. Even a massive company like Google has to give over your search information if the authorities ask.

5. Are you working on developing any other products?

Not yet, the focus has been on promoting the NinjaStik and ensuring solid customer service and after-sale support. I mentioned that a great product must be simple and intuitive to use, and I also believe that strong customer support must be able to back that up.

Thanks, Jeremy!

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