SilentKeys A Privacy Aware Keyboard
Written by Nikos Vaggalis   
Thursday, 30 June 2016

Could Preevio's innovative keyboard be the perfect answer to the privacy concerns arising from the monitoring and tracking of all our daily activities that take place online?

It's common fact that keeping a secret online is not something that the average computer user can master, despite the wealth of information on how to go about it as well as the attempts taken in simplifying the procedures.

Disabling third party cookies and tracking code, keeping your anonymity and browsing history clean, fooling keyloggers or avoiding drive-by malware downloads are just some of the  pitfalls in abundance that stand between you and the safe carrying out of your online activities such as doing your shopping or sending confidential emails.

In fact the situation is much worse than just described, since looking for countermeasures, for example browser addons, antivirus software, anonymous proxies or VPN's, you find yourself tangled between the act of first discovering them, choosing amongst them and finally utilize them, actions just too overwhelming for the non tech savy individual.  



Preevio has encapsulated the need for an accessible and uniform solution in an everyday product that one can't do with out, a keyboard called SilentKeys that has raised over twice its 50,000 Euros goal on a Kickstarter campaign that is due to end on July 5th.

Working on the simple idea of integrating sophisticated functionality into the humble but quintessential keyboard, it has managed to create a portable, affordable as well stylish solution to all privacy and security concerns pertaining to browsing the web. It's a solution  accessible to everyone and anyone no matter of age or tech savviness, whose protection now becomes a simple matter of just plugging  Silentkeys into the USB port of any personal computer.

SilentKeys is the product of open hardware to software cooperation, a keyboard embedding the image of a Live OS called Satya (a fork of the amnesic and incognito Tails OS) into it's hardware's flash memory.

As such Satya inherited all privacy and anonymity properties of Tails. Online anonymity and censorship circumvention are guaranteed as all software that is connecting to the Internet does so through Tor. Silentkeys also addresses the circumstantial revealing of the user's real IP upon the VPN's disconnecting and reconnecting, with its Clearnetswitch, a KillSwitch that blocks any connection attempt when the real IP cannot be hidden.

As Tails is a LiveOS, it's volatile RAM memory is cleaned upon every reboot, while it's configuration does not allow it to use the computer's hard drives. If  persistence is required, for storing user files, configuration options, cookies, cache or temp files  for example, one can plug a SD card into the Micro SD reception found on the sides of the keyboard. It goes without saying that everything stored in the card gets encrypted with the Linux disk-encryption standard, which in essence places your files into a secure file vault.    

That aside, the OS's read-only nature guarantees protection against viruses and other malware types such as rootkits, since they cannot be installed or tamper with the operating system's files.

Of course, Tails OS comes bundled with privacy preserving applications such as OpenPGP or OTR, and this is where Satya differs, in that it adds more apps to the standard Tails distribution.

What is interesting is the protection against keyloggers. Although no detailed information on its internal workings is disclosed, SilentKeys seems to act like a Hub chip that circumvents external keyboards, as such hindering the use of hardware based keyloggers. As to deterring software based keyloggers, booting fully in Satya is enough.

If you don't want to boot in Satya but instead would like to work with the OS installed inside your PC, be it Linux, Windows or Mac, Silentkeys can still offer you a level of protection through its SAB, Safe Anonymous Browser. This is a fork of the renowned Tor Network Browser, which comes enclosed in its own sandbox so that even in the case of a virus infection, the main OS and process space are not affected, as the virus disappears together with the exiting of the browser's session.

Finally, there is an extra bonus for those paranoid about security since the keyboard is designed around a screw free aluminium-shell that makes any attempt of tampering clearly noticeable.

Summing up, while all these precautionary measures could be followed without Silentkeys - you could very well run a LiveOS, run a browser session inside a Sandbox, use a VPN client, install a firewall, arm yourself with one or more of the myriad antivirus utilities and extensions out there, SilentKeys can do it all for you.

What it does is conveniently fuse all those practices into a single package so that the average PC user doesn't have to possess the skill necessary in order to keep track of all that's required. The only thing required is awareness that preserving privacy and anonymity is not just a for those with evil plans or with something to hide. It's a fundamental and statuary human right which unfortunately gets overridden in these modern days of continuous and unrestricted flow of information. SilentKeys is certainly a welcome step towards reversing that direction.

More Information

Preevio blog

SilentKeys on KickStarter

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 30 June 2016 )