Spy Finds is a daily series that unveils the coolest, under-the-radar products that you haven’t heard of until now. Each product is curated by our editors who want to help you discover cool finds you didn’t know you needed.
These days we’re all sort of throwing up our hands and accepting things that aren’t exactly to our liking. No haircuts? Fine. No going to the movies? Sure, whaddya gonna do? Stuck working and playing on your laptop all day? Yeah, ‘fraid so.
No internet privacy, data and search history constantly harvested by invisible trackers and sold by tech companies, governments, even VPNs? OK, now that’s a step too far. There’s no reason to be so digitally exposed, not with Winston available.
The Winston digital filter is, simply, a data dam between your modem and router. And it’s you back in control of your data used across all of your IoT (Internet of Things) devices: computers, phones, tablets, streaming sticks, even your smart-home devices. The goal is a zero-knowledge platform: No logging or knowledge of your internet activity by anyone other than you.
And if this sounds like a complicated, hard-to-install machine which will slow your browsing and gaming to a pitiful crawl, block your favorite harmless sites, or otherwise wreak havoc on your home network, it’s not. Winston is a plug-and-play device, from box to active in 60 seconds. And it’s compatible with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Spotify, and IoT devices like Nest and Canary.
Big Data is a beast, to be sure. So how does this humble-looking silver box take the fight to them? Winston scrambles your IP address across a proprietary Distributed Privacy Mesh Network, making it impossible for trackers to connect your use to your IP address. It also encrypts your DNS to prevent your provider from tracking your activity, automatically blocks or modifies cookies to keep your browser history hidden from everyone but you, and it detects and blocks fingerprinting techniques which allow you to be tracked based on your device’s unique physical makeup, which happens even when you’re browsing in Incognito Mode. (Oops….)
Winston is also a powerful and robust ad blocker. And when you come across a legit site that locks you out until you whitelist it, Winston’s dashboard is easy to use in order to allow access. But unlike even the best of the browser-extension or plug-in ad blockers, Winston also prevents you from being watched, or having your data harvested and stored. And most ad blockers work poorly if at all on cellphones. Winston protects everything on your home network, including your phones.
The Winston device itself is $159, but without a subscription your functionality is limited: no updates to filters or block lists, no encrypted DNS or IP scrambling, and no customer service. For $449 you get the device and a lifetime subscription. Our pick is the middle package: $249 for the device and a prepaid one-year subscription, after which the subscription is $8.25 per month or $99 per year.
This is as close to a cloaking device for your home network as we’ve seen, and with so much of the digital world still in the Wild West phase of thievery and profiteering, we’ll take all the security we can get.