The Great Flaw - You are not Stealth, You are Secure - How to be Anonymous Online: Step-by-Step Anonymity with Tor, Tails, Bitcoin and Writeprints (2016)

How to be Anonymous Online: Step-by-Step Anonymity with Tor, Tails, Bitcoin and Writeprints (2016)

The Great Flaw - You are not Stealth, You are Secure

At the source, anyone spying on your home internet connection can see if you are using Tor (You Are Not Stealth). They cannot see what you are doing, whom you are talking to or what you are reading. All they know is that you are going somewhere, and they will probably not find out where (You Are Secure).

In the middle, out in the Tor network, spies can see activity. They cannot see what it is, where it came from or where it is going (You Are Secure).

At the destination, wherever that may be, spies can see Tor users visiting. They cannot see who the visitors are or where they came from (You Are Secure).

On a grand scale, this is all the security you need. It does not matter that you are not stealth. Since you are one person out of hundreds of thousands floating across the Tor network every second, it should not be inferred which of those anonymous connections is yours. On an intimate scale, this is not the case.

During December 2013's final exam's week, Harvard University was emailed a bomb threat. Upon reviewing the email, the FBI could see that it was sent using the Guerrilla Mail service from a Tor IP address. From there, they searched Harvard's system records for all students that accessed Tor around the time of the email. Next, they asked those students if they sent the bomb threat. One student, a Korean whose surname happens to be Kim, confessed (I swear to God, it was a Korean named Kim).

I only use this story as an example of blowing one's cover because the good morality stories do not make the news. Please do not send any bomb threats. You will make us both look like a--holes.

In Closing

The Germans used the “unbreakable” Enigma machine to encrypt communications during WWII. Unfortunately for the Nazis, the United Kingdom’s Ultra program broke Enigma, and the Brits read their sh-t. See the story in the movie The Imitation Game!

In the 1950's, the United States was flying over the Soviet Union with a badass spy-plane called the U-2. Even though the Soviets could see it, it was too high to shoot down. Then, on May Day, 1960, the Soviets shot one down.

In the 1970's, the Data Encryption Standard was developed and implemented as the United States' federal standard for data encryption. In 1998, it was broken by brute force using background processing power provided by volunteers on the internet.

Eventually, all security is breached. When? Who knows. Apply the analogies as you see fit.

A M Eydie


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The following works are cited in these instructions:

1: Jianwen Sun, Zongkai Yang, Sanya Liu, Pei Wang, Applying Stylometric Analysis Techniques to Counter Anonymity in Cyberspace, 2012

2: Iqbal, Farkhund, Hamad Binsalleeh, Benjamin Fung, and Mourad Debbabi, Mining writeprints from anonymous e-mails for forensic investigation, 2010

3: Michael Brennan, Rachel Greenstadt, Deceiving Authorship Detection, 2011

4: Aylin Caliskan, Rachel Greenstadt, Translate once, translate twice, translate thrice and attribute: Identifying authors and machine translation tools in translated text, 2012

5: M. Schmid, Computer-aided Writeprint Modeling For Cybercrime Investigations, 2012

6: Michael Brennan, Rachel Greenstadt, Practical Attacks Against Authorship Recognition Techniques, 2009

7: Meiklejohn, Sarah, Marjori Pomarole, Grant Jordan, Kirill Levchenko, Damon McCoy, Geoffrey M. Voelker, and Stefan Savage, A fistful of bitcoins: characterizing payments among men with no names, 2013

[1] In the first half of 2014, a Bitcoin mining pool named GHash.IO came to comprise over 50% of the mining power in the Bitcoin network. Previously, it was thought to be practically impossible for a single entity to gain such a large position. GHash.IO could have used their position to manipulate and compromise the Bitcoin system... essentially, asserting some 'Central Authority' powers. Major Bitcoin miners left the pool to remove the 50% threat, as those most vested in Bitcoin would stand to lose the most if confidence in the currency evaporated. Do an online search of “Bitcoin 51% Attack” to learn more.