November 8th & 9th, 2024
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Taking control of our Networks, Data & Privacy

SeaGL 2019

We are losing more and more control of our data every passing day. Data is the new oil and majority of the devices, software and services want to capture as much information about us as possible.

The flurry of proprietary smart (spy) devices are taking away our freedom and privacy. An innocent looking Router or a WiFi Access Point could be snooping on us and sending our data to the manufacturer. There are many reported cases of privacy breaches by various IoT and smart devices.

We have liberated and taken control of computing devices like Desktop, Workstations, Laptops and Mobile Phones etc, but are we taking enough care of our networking gear? Do we care what kind of Router or Access Point is powering our network and if they’re snooping on us? Do we know for sure if the latest smart device in our network is phoning home? How can we get more control on these devices with off-the-shelf hardware and Free Software?

This talk tries to demystify the blackboxes being sold as Routers, Firewalls, Access Points,Network Attached Storages, IoT devices, Media Players etc. and de-couple the software from hardware.

Further, we try to identify the hardware and software components in order to be able to build the Network Equipment ourselves and self-host services (Instant Messaging, Media Storage / Streaming, Social Networks, Home Automation, Git, NextCloud etc.) within the network which is in our control and empower ourselves to decide what data leaves the network and what doesn’t.

We also do a live demonstration of a working network set-up thus created with the Hardware and Software identified.


Nishant Sharma

Nishant Sharma, Hopbox, Unmukti Technology

Nishant Sharma is a Free Software & Libre Hardware entrepreneur. He is a Mechanical Engineer by education and has been making a living from Free Software since 2003.

He is Co-Founder & Tech Lead at Unmukti Technology, India, where he works on building Network Equipment like SD-WAN Gateways, VPN Appliances, Firewalls, Access Points, Home Edge Computing Gateways etc. These devices are branded as Hopbox. He has worked for DeepRoot Linux, an Indian VSAT ISP and a Pan-European ISP before founding Unmukti in 2010.

Nishant was lead translator for Debian Installer l10n to Hindi during 2006-07 and a OpenStreetMap volunteer mapper. He actively contributes to OpenWrt project and its packages.

These days he tries to build awareness for building network equipment and self-hosting among students and enterprise decision makers.

In the recent past, he has spoken at Swatantra 2017, Middle East College, Muscat (Feb 2019) and LibrePlanet 2019.