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Sever Scam

The Scammiest Scam To Yet Anonymity Scam

I'm still holding out for this being a hoax, a big joke, and that they're going to cancel the kickstarter any minute. It'd be quite the cute "lessons learned" about anonymity scams. However, I will be treating it from here on out as a genuine scam. (As of May 2nd, the kickstarter has been cancelled, after the strangest attempt to reply to this imaginable. Good riddance.)

This absolutely ridiculous thing was brought to my attention by a friend and since it was late at night I thought I must be delirious in how absurdly over the top fake it seemed. So I slept on it, woke up, and found that it had gotten a thousand dollars more funding and was every bit as flabbergasting as I thought it was.

Since I realize that not everyone has spent their entire lives studying computers – and such people are the targets of such scams – I figured I'd throw together a quick list of not even everything wrong with this kickstarter. I am a professional computer security researcher. I care a lot about anonymity and privacy on the internet, and I hang out with the world's leading experts on the topic. I especially care about defeating state-sponsored censorship. That's why I get SO MAD about the series of scams seeking to take advantage of people who just want to be secure. At best they just lose their money, at worst they get a horrible unsafe mishmash of code that makes them worse off than when they started.

Yes, they followed me on Twitter after they caught me calling them a scam. Precious. Orange is in fact the best color but the over-the-top coolness is the first "I have a bad feeling about this" sign. The nearly 1:1 ratio of followers to followed on a scale of thousands is another classic sign of social network fudgery. Whatever. On to the actual kickstarter:

What EVEN! What do I say? Well, first off, everyone who actually knows anything about onion routing knows that the correct way to capitalize Tor is Tor, not TOR. That's a minor, superficial thing that a lot of people get wrong, but if you're claiming to be an expert I expect you to know how to spell the name of the most important piece of software in the field. But. Ten times speed. TEN TIMES SPEED. What is this miracle? How are you increasing speed by adding extra routing steps? Why aren't you in a bidding war between the major ISPs to sell this technology for millions of dollars? It's an absolutely revolutionary breakthrough that could benefit everyone on the planet, and you don't need a kickstarter to license your apparently already working algorithm!

Sever™ is an embedded forced routing,

What does "forced routing" mean? Like this, which "assumes the network is centralized", ie the opposite of peer-to-peer?

peer to peer internet networking device

Tor does this for free

with inherent DNS security protections built in,

Uhh this requires a boatload of clarification. Like, a doctorate's worth.

individual packet encryption,

Lots of things do this for free

a data containment engine,

??? Like a hard drive or...

and IP obfuscation capabilities.

A proxy. This is a thing that many things can already do. The limitations are subtle but important – just ask all the people who've been busted for crimes commited from behind an obfuscated IP.

Its engineered to make what you do online private, faster, and untraceable! Its designed to work with your existing internet hardware and setup takes only minutes.

Hmm hmm. Promising the moon. Dinging one point for "its/it's" confusion.

Sever™ enhances secure network communications, secures wired and wireless devices and networks including mobile devices, PCs, servers, and other Internet Protocol based systems.

You are saying "Internet Protocol" because it sounds impressive.

We're also in the process of building a Sever™ App for your mobile device extending your protection, while away from home. This interconnection will provide security, anonymity,

Oh, tell me more, I'm curious how this isn't going to compromise anything on the anonymity front (this is a non-sarcastic one. Well, half-sarcastic)

and malware protection wherever you are.

W h a t ? That makes no sense. Anonymity and encryption are completely orthogonal to antivirus. They have nothing to do with each other. Where is this mysterious anti-malware coming from?

Cute gif.

Heads up! If you're an online gamer get ready to experience a disgustingly cool boost in network performance. Your data travels faster than theirs!

This makes no sense. This makes no sense. THIS MAKES NO SENSE! You can't add a peer-to-peer anonymity routing system, which adds a ton of steps and overhead to the route your packets take, and somehow get "disgustingly" faster! I asked about this on Twitter and your response was utter gibberish.

Path of least resistance? You mean... the entire point of the internet? The thing that engineers and designers have spent the past couple of decades optimizing? Do you even RFC, bro? Do you think that packets are routed around in circles pointlessly for funsies? Do you have some sort of internet laser which bores through time and space? $199 retail suddenly sounds pretty reasonable for that sort of raw unbridled network-defying power.

Let's skip over the spiel about "villains," it's just fluff.

Sever™ is designed to work with your existing internet hardware. It's very easy to use, you simply plug it in with an Ethernet (CAT5) cable between your modem and router. Or you can use Sever™ as a wireless router itself.

Weirdly, I can't find an ethernet port in any picture of the hardware. There's just something that looks like it could be a USB port or could be an HDMI port depending on how you squint.


I had to resort to the website to find entire sentences about what these might mean. For some utterly horrible reason, all the text on the site is an image. There goes all the money I spent on this retina screen!

  • DNS Security – Sever™ with DNS protection blocking malware communications dead in their tracks

This appears to be vaguely related to some idea about malware c&c, but this statement itself is meaningless.

  • Dynamic Packet Encryption – Sever™ encrypts at payload level rolling encryption protocols throughout the transfer data lifecycle

Did you just open a technical dictionary and pick random words? This says absolutely nothing about the actual encryption.

  • Randomized Port Dispersion – Sever™ transmits your information through port dispersion, making it impossible for man in the middle attacks or port congestion

Okay, first off, randomized ports on the client side is something bog standard IP stacks already do. They always have. Your computer is doing it right now. Second, that in no way, shape, or form could possibly stop MITM attacks. They can either intercept you or they can't, and you can hop ports until you're blue in the face. Third, "port congestion"? Is this a problem you think you have? Is port 80 clogged? Pour some draino in there.

  • Forced Routing

This doesn't seem to be defined anywhere.

  • Unique Peer-to-Peer Network – Sever™ goes far beyond the capabilities of TOR and provides you with optimized throughput for up to 10X your current internet speed.

Absolutely magical. And they call me a witch.

  • App Store

Uhh... ... ... ... ... ... what?


  • Makes you anonymous
  • Secures your network
  • Increase network speeds up to 10X
  • No one can intercept your communication
  • No one can track your online purchases
  • Protects you from trackers
  • Protects against crypto-lockers, malware, and bots
  • Access the internet from any country

Deep breath. All right. How, how, how, how, how, how, what, and how? You have solved problems that thousands of brilliant people all over the world have been thinking about for a long time now. They're going to rename the Nobel Prize to the Sever™ Prize™!

The Anti-Villain Box is an open source hardware platform and an open source software platform. We developed a powerful dual development environment using state of the art mini computers capable of running multiple instances of linux. This is one sick open source development platform.

Good luck finding their github though. In fact they seem rather unclear on the concept of open source.

Sever™ allows you to take advantage of anonymity code designed to auto encrypt and hide application payloads as a default. We’re opening Sever up to you, the world. So go invent amazingly cool things with it- get crazy - make stuff that no one ever thought possible with Sever™.

Good job thoroughly conflating anonymity and privacy which are different things. Encryption (privacy) does not give you anonymity.

Sever™ shreds your data into billions of tiny data packets,

Are you like encrypting half of a bit per packet or what? I thought you were trying to prevent congestion, not drive it up by orders of magnitude.

encrypts each one with a powerful new encryption algorithm developed to STOP villains dead in their tracks and keeps you, what you do and your data from those you don’t want to have it.

Walk up to any encryption expert on the planet. Ask them what the #1 sign of encryption snake oil is.

Spoilers: it's "new, and totally secret, algorithm". Real systems ship publicly peer-reviewed stuff and keep the "new algorithms" in papers for the next conference.

Sever™ will not ask or expect you to share your data with us or anyone else. Its your data, its your children’s data and its your business data. Sever makes sure it stays that way. We’ve designed Sever with up to 10TB of SSD Flash memory.

So everyone was joking that $199 retail is really good for 10TB of flash, which costs many thousands of dollars. Of course, the trick is that the base model is a whopping sixteen... megabytes. This is only mentioned on the website. But – what are the terabytes conceivably for?! It's a router.

This means you can now do some pretty amazing things with your data knowing that your the only one in the world who can access it. Sever™ has built in data analytics. This means your can see your cyber life and do things with it that only you can do. Save money & time while understanding your cyber life like never before.

Not even a sick screenshot of orange and silver graphs of my C Y B E R L I F E? I'm disappointed.

Are you ready to bounce through the secure deflector path?!

I just... I can't. The website ends on the note of pointing out that their dinky Linux router supports PHP. It's like they were specifically trying to make me mad. A Denial of Abadidea Attack.

This is the scammiest thing I have ever seen and their attempts to argue with the grownups are the bright orange icing on the bright orange cake of scam.

But at least their photoshopping is pretty good.

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So I received a reply:

Subject: Re: Greetings from Rogue
Date: Wed, 29 Apr 2015 00:02:32 +0000
From: Anthony McDermott
To: Colin Keigher

Hi Colin,

First of all thank you for you response. Its good to be speaking with
someone who understands technology and is willing to ask questions, even
if its with a bit of a skeptical tone. :) I’m having our technical team
answer your questions one by one. One thing that they can’t answer is
anything about our new encryption. That will be released when the
product is launched. Its proprietary information. Your questions are
valuable enough that we are going to update our kickstarter and post
shorter versions on our FAQ, so thank you.

I’ve reached out to a few people in my network to see if they know you.
Always helps to have a common friend. I believe we have a friend
that either knows MARS or knows someone who’s associated with it. We
know the community, white and black hats and are preparing to throw as
much credibility around the technology that we can in the coming weeks.
We know there's a lot of questions and skepticism…thats the cutting
edge. Its what we have to deal with. But sit back for one minute and
ask yourself what happens if everything we say is 100% true. What then?
Our CEO is Pete Ochinko - former United States Secret Service
Presidential Protection Lead. Jay Grant is our CISO. Jay’s most recent
position was Enterprise Operations Branch Chief of the Executive office
of the President of the United States of America. He was responsible
for the day to day operations of the Presidents networks and data
center. None of us are willing to put our reputations on the line and
Bullshit the world into purchasing something that we can’t be build. We
work our tails off and are good professional people. Definitely don’t
deserve what’s happening on Twitter but we will prevail. Truth has a
way of doing that. :)

You have my word you will get your questions answered, they are good!


If your good at what you do and your looking to change the world…come to
Boston and interview with us. We really like your style and hitting
this head on.

Best regards,


And replied with this:

Subject: Re: Greetings from Rogue
Date: Tue, 28 Apr 2015 22:19:32 -0700
From: Colin Keigher
To: Anthony McDermott

Hi Tony,

That sounds great. I am glad to hear that you'll address this in your
Kickstarter page. However, I am dismayed that you have failed to address
these to me personally which leads me to doubt that you will follow
through on this and will likely half-ass the answers.

Here's a tip: trying to pass off people who've done work within the
government as reason for me to believe that your product is solid only
digs your hole deeper. This is why you're receiving scorn on Twitter:
people like yourself come into the security industry promising the moon
and beyond and yet instead deliver on nothing. You haven't earned any
trust and I very, very much doubt you ever will.

Nobody who has a clue about how this stuff works cares about
pseudo-technical Youtube videos, PR press releases, or whitepapers
written by marketing droids. This information is not intended for us and
will only question your guys' motives even further. The lack of
technical information from you so far leads me to believe that either
you're being deceived or you're deceiving others.

I did some research on my own and so far have determined that beyond the
names you've given and the name on the KickStarter, the only other
person I can see possibly employed within your organisation is a
videographer who quit his job at the local Apple store in the past year.

Do you have cryptographers employed amongst you? How big is your
development team? Who are these people in the photo you included on the
Kickstarter? What backgrounds do they have? What whitepapers on
cryptography have they written? Why should I trust based on some notion
that you have some former government agents amongst yourselves?

If all you have is your executive team and this videographer, it does
not bode well for the future of your product.

Again, you have not earned any trust and that is why you're getting
rightfully-deserved scorn and criticism from not only myself but others
who do this sort of work day in and day out.

Also, do better research on me. MARS is a team of four and I am fairly
certain that whoever in your network knows anyone I know is merely a
loose relationship and nothing substantial. What I do know about you is
that you naively advocate for bulletproof glass in schools and had a
bone to pick with a local cardinal.

Lastly, while I very much love an excuse to fly out to the east coast,
I'll have to say "no" to your suggestion that I come pay a visit.

I am not interested in peddling in what I perceive as snake oil. The
fact that you have to rely on Kickstarter to get this project moving
forward instead of outside investment tells me it doesn't work or you
guys just have no clue about running a business. I'm no expert on the
latter I'll admit, but you seem to be promising the security device of
the decade which means that if it did work, some vendor would be all
over you.

I look forward to seeing you update your Kickstarter page and expect
that my questions will be answered there.

  • Colin


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Our CEO is Pete Ochinko - former United States Secret Service
Presidential Protection Lead. Jay Grant is our CISO. Jay’s most recent
position was Enterprise Operations Branch Chief of the Executive office
of the President of the United States of America. He was responsible
for the day to day operations of the Presidents networks and data

And they still need funding on Kickstarter? Tell me more about it.

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They don't have this Pete Ochinko guy listed in their corporate filing under MA as any kind of an officer, let alone a CEO. They're incorporated in DE though, and DE charges for add'l info on corporate listings. Seeing as how I'm not willing to throw away money on their kickstarter, I'm not going to do it to look closer at their company, either. Maybe someone else is interested...
MA filing:
DE filing:
(search 'rogue foundry')

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laethyn commented Apr 29, 2015

"a data containment engine, "
An excel spreadsheet.

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erikarn commented Apr 29, 2015

Hah. 64MB RAM. 16MB flash. This is likely an Atheros AR9331 SoC Wifi thing with OpenWRT on it and a slick front-end.

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From their FAQ:

"I have a combined router/modem. How can I connect Sever to it?"

There are a few ways. One, hardwire it and use Sever as a wireless router and turn OFF the wireless of your modem. OR connect Sever wirelessly (like a signal booster) to your wireless signal, then connect to the Sever signal - which is our preferred method. (more secure)

So you can hardwire the device and use it as an AP, or wirelessly connect the device and use it as a bridged AP. And the wireless method is more secure?! Really?

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erikarn commented Apr 29, 2015

Most wifi networks can't be trusted as anyone who knows the PSK can just set up a rogue AP. If they have any sense, they're using certificates to ensure the AP is the one you're speaking to

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void-in commented Apr 29, 2015

Hi Tony, Fuck your product. i don't care what it uses. Just that for the love of god differentiate between your and you're. Do you even grammar, bro?

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He must use some kind of space-time folding, cable splice device. Faster anonymous networking would totally be the best application for that kind of technology.

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vyp commented May 1, 2015

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it is a pretty incredibly video. I'm sure someone's getting an A in their media class. Their scrolly bar at the bottom is a convenient list of competent technical experts too!

edit: I took the time to reply in kind

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This is actually very useful info for trying to detect security "lemons" in the future, because we can see a perfect case-study here with all of the defining features of a lemon.

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Makdaam commented May 2, 2015

Ok, I backed up their kickstarter page and both videos since they're announcing they're getting ready to no longer exist online.

This is going to be a fun example with professional video documentation.

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Yeah, their website seems to be disappearing: this returns a 404 now.

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it's cancelled. 🎊

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lol rekt

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Well done, 0xabad1dea. I hope you don't mind me giving you credit for cracking down the scam 😃

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