A $35 Firewall for the Developing World

A number of recent efforts aim to bridge the global digital divide, particularly with respect to Internet access. We take this endeavor one step further and argue that Internet access and web security go hand in glove in the developing world. To remedy the situation, we explore whether low-cost platforms, such as Raspberry Pi ($35) and Cubieboard ($59), can be used to implement security mechanisms. Using a firewall as a motivating security application we benchmark its performance on these platforms to test our thesis. Our results show that these platforms can indeed serve as enablers of security functions for small sized deployments in the developing world, while only consuming less than $2.5 worth of electricity per device per annum. In addition, we argue that the use of these platforms also addresses maintenance challenges such as update roll-out and distribution. Furthermore, a number of additional network functions, such as caching and WAN acceleration can also be implemented atop this simple infrastructure. Finally, we posit that this deployment can be used for in-network monitoring to facilitate ICT4D research.

By: Zubair Nabi

Published in: RC25442 in 2014


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