We’re going to use this space to answer the most common questions, and explain why we do or don’t do things. So of course, the first thing we should explain is why we started this company.
Almost everybody who finds themselves on this site has used wi-fi to access the Internet, and probably has used open, unencrypted hot-spots for that purpose. Well, news to nobody, those hotspots are not secure – anybody with the desire to see all of the traffic can do just that without a whole lot of work (and certainly no expense and no visibility). If you’re just checking the score of the Lakers game, then it’s not really a big deal, but if you’ve logged into one of your many on-line accounts, you generally don’t want to share that log-in info with just anybody. So there’s a trade-off – limit your use of open wi-fi networks, or risk giving away personal information. But as our connection to the web becomes more mobile, we’re going to rely on these open hotspots even more, so limiting our exposure to un-secure networks is not an acceptable option.
A solution to this problem is to use a Virtual Private Network, or VPN. However, there’s a couple of issues with this approach: they’re typically expensive, and absurdly difficult to set up. And not all of them will protect your Internet connection when you’re surfing in your favorite coffee shop (or some random one that you don’t know). That’s where we thought, we can fix that. We can design a solution that lets you easily make a totally encrypted connection from wherever you are to your home or office network, and from there, out to the Internet. So we did.
We didn’t want to just protect your local network, we wanted to build an exoskeleton around it (exonetwork) – an exoskeleton that protects and serves. The ExoNetwork replaces your router and includes software for implementing your Virtual Private Exonetwork, which we call VPEx(tm). When you are connected to the Internet via an open wireless network, VPEx gives you a secure connection back to your ExoNetwork, and then connects it over your wired broadband connection to the Internet. That’s not enough innovation for a new product, though. The ExoNetwork uses a powerful network processor, with enough cycles to do other things. It can also serve files, just like those cloud services that will charge you the price of a disk drive (every year) for giving you access to 1% of that disk drive.
And if we’re going to include shared network storage that turns your hard drive into your personal cloud (all secured with the latest encryption algorithms), what if you want to run some applications on that system? Since one of the two original goals of the product is to simplify things, you shouldn’t have to add yet another box that will require you to configure your router to connect it to the Internet. So we added that functionality, and we made it easier to use. The ExoNetwork is based on Linux, so we opened it up so anybody can install and run applications that should be run on the edge of your network.
We don’t spiral the cost of VPEx by charging you for extra client licenses; you can register as many devices with the VPEx server as you want. There are no certificates to be bought; all of the keys are generated in real time for the computers you register with the ExoNetwork. Easy, fast, and secure.
While we made it real easy to register a laptop with the VPEx server running in the ExoNetwork, we thought there are ways to improve that: make a portable device that offloads the encryption from your notebook, and lets you plug it into any computer and get the same secure access. Enter the ExoKey, a USB device the size of a typical flash drive, with a powerful encryption processor that makes VPEx even more secure – the keys are never copied to the laptop where malware can copy them, as all encryption is performed on the ExoKey. And it has a slot for a microSD card, so you can store up to 32 or 64 Gbytes, or whatever the current limit of microSD cards is, right on the ExoKey.
We’ll be providing more information on the ExoNetwork and the ExoKey as we get closer to shipping them, which will be sometime this spring. Sign up for our twitter feed at @xoware to keep informed of the latest news on our products.