The NinjaStik is a great idea, in fact it is an awesome idea, but browsing with Tor is not a new idea.
Before creating the NinjaStik in early 2012 it was necessary to look at other existing solutions to online anonymity, there are a number of very successful and well thought out offerings.
Some of the projects have been around for years, long before building the NinjaStik was even considered and all were a great inspiration.
Here are just a few of the many:
2002 – The Tor Project, check the wikipedia page for the complete story. The NinjaStik would not be possible without the Tor Project. If you just want to install Tor to your existing computer, they offer the Tor browser bundle – it is free.
2005 – Iron Key was a program started with assistance from the US Federal Government, designed to protect identity and information for law enforcement and extended to companies and apparently individuals too.
2005 – Torpark – TOR from a USB key on a computer running Windows. This one too runs on Windows, making it very convenient as well.
2008 – There was the Freedom Stick offered by a group during the Beijing Olympics. No longer offered, but it was aimed at assisting people who would be in Beijing during the Olympics and therefore under greater observation.
2008- Portable TOR – Designed to be run from USB on a Windows system.
2009 – TAILS The Amnesiac Incognito Live System, not only is TAILS a great privacy / anonymity system, they have a cool acronym. The NinjaStik needs a cool acronym.
2011 – Surf Easy – a credit card shaped USB device that uses a VPN and a monthly subscription (and they are Canadian too!)
2012 – Tor-Ramdisk – runs a Tor server from ram memory. Very cool, secure and easy to use. Looks well thought out and worth looking at if you are interested in running a TOR server.
Others that I feel are worthy of note include:
Liberte Linux – based Hardened Gentoo, taking security very seriously, very well thought out.
TomatoUSB – designed for your router and can route connections through Tor
OperaTor – another cool name Opera-Tor, Operator. Designed to run Opera through Tor off of a USB key.
Other options include installing Linux to your computer, dual booting, buying an anonymous VPN service, and installing privacy bundles to your Windows PC.
There are also a few that have copied the look and feel of the NinjaStik. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but they lack the features, customer service, and guarantee that NinjaStik provides. Also, not one of them promotes a free option like we do. Our commitment and promotion of open source options that you can do yourself is second to none.
The requirements for the NinjaStik were the following:
- Portable – must run from a USB drive.
- Encrypted – Fully encrypted flash drive.
- Speed – Fast boot and responsive system overall.
- Look and Feel – Must have a desktop that looks familiar to Windows users. (This seems to upset a lot of Linux purists, but users are comfortable with what they already know and the NinjaStik is not geared toward Linux purists.)
- Longevity – Optimized to run from a Flash drive (minimize read and writes to prevent killing the flash memory)
- Convenient – Must be simple enough that users are not required to modify their tactile interaction with the computer. This means having typical login windows, a proper desktop, icons, task panel etc.
- Include programs for Word, spreadsheet, media player, photo viewer and editor, cd/dvd burner.
Obviously we have a bias toward the NinjaStik, but the other choices may be a better fit depending on your needs / technical ability / available time / and cost.
The time required is worth considering. If you are familiar with Linux and Tor then buying the NinjaStik would seem crazy – you can get it for free. This is a comment I’ve received from many people in emails, comments and even on Reddit. It is important to remember that not everyone has the time / desire / interest to learn how to install Linux, configure encryption, configure Tor and get it all working properly. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not hard but it does require time and desire.
The NinjaStik also has 2 other features that you will find missing from all of the others;
- Customer service – If you need assistance, have a question, require help getting your NinjaStik working – we are just an email / call / chat away. We are here to help with care, professionalism, patience and reassurance. That is something you will find either lacking or even non-existent with the competition.
- Guaranteed – If the NinjaStik turns out not to the right product for you or your computer, for any reason at all – you get your money back. No hassles, no questions, money returned, that simple.
Those two items are the most important features – even compared to the security, encryption and robustness of the NinjaStik – customer service is the key. What good is a product if you are not able to use it. NinjaStik, once again, has you covered.