Thursday, September 22, 2005

Shhh...No One Knows I'm Blogging

GEEK ALERT! (don't say you weren't warned)

You have to read this
awesome publication (pdf file) put out by Reporters Without Borders helping folks set up anonymous weblogs and avoid censors in places where blogging can be dangerous to one's employment or even health. There's lots of info about how or why to blog, but a chapter titled "HOW TO BLOG ANONYMOUSLY" by Ethan Zuckerman (fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School), outlines the following 6 steps:

Step 1 - Pseudonyms

Essentially, this involves setting up an anonymous email account with Hotmail, Yahoo, or Hushmail (which is new to me, but looks very good). Note: Yahoo (and maybe some others) will ask you for an alternative email address, however, so be sure not to give them one if anonymity is your goal. After that, you'll want an anonymous blog service. Ethan recommends Blogsome (free WordPress blogs), Blogger, and Seo Blog (can't find a good link for this...anyone?)

Step 2 - Public computers

Rather self-explanatory: use internet cafe's and other computers that many people use, so authorities can't trace the IP address back to you personally. Not fool-proof obviously, and certainly not convenient, so...

Step 3 - Anonymous proxies

Ethan explains that this way, when you use your webmail and weblog services, you'll leave behind the IP address of the proxy server, not the address of your home machine... which will make it very hard for anyone to find you. You might need some geek help to do this, but here's Ethan's list of reliable public proxies:

This will also slow down your browsing speed. But once you're up and running (you really need to read the document for the technical details), you can test where the internet thinks you're coming from at noreply.org. More oppressive governments block the popular proxies too, so you might have to search for a while to find one they don't know about. Ethan also recommends bloggers switch proxies regularly.

Step 4 - This time it's personal!

Rather than using a public proxy though, you can use a personal approach, otherwise known as a friend's computer (preferably a friend outside the reach of the oppressive government) as a proxy. They need some tricky software (Ethan recommends Circumventor from Peacefire.org), but, of course there are potential problems with this as well, including the friend's computer changing IP addresses, or the oppressive government realizing the blogger is spending all their time at one IP address and getting suspicious anyway. And so, the plot thickens, as does the technology...

Step 5 - Onion Routing through Tor

I'll just let Ethan explain this one:

Tor, a relatively new system...provides a high degree of anonymity for websurfing. Onion routing takes the idea of proxy servers – a computer that acts on your behalf – to a new level of complexity. Each request made through an onion routing network goes through two to 20 additional computers, making it hard to trace what computer originated a request. Each step of the Onion Routing chain is encrypted, making it harder for the [oppressive] government...to trace...posts.

At this point, however, you're virtually into hacker territory. Oddly, though, this "cloaking" technology is reported easy to install: Tor. Downsides include some sites, like Wikipedia, recognizing cloaked visitors and not letting them add comments, as well as, expectedly, slower browsing.

Step 6 - MixMaster, Invisiblog and GPG

If all that's not anonymous enough for you, enter the world of spook (aka paranoid) blogging:

[There's a] new option: Invisiblog (http://www.invisiblog.com/ [note, this URL returns an XML error message,]). Run by an anonymous group of Australians called vigilant.tv, it’s a site designed for and by the truly paranoid. You can't post to Invisiblog via the web, as you do with most blog servers. You post to it using specially formatted email, sent through the MixMaster remailer system, signed cryptographically. [...]

GPG (http://www.gnupg.org/) - the GNU implementation of Pretty Good Privacy, a public-key encryption system (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public-key_cryptography). In two sentences: Public-key encryption is a technique that allows [you] to send messages to a person that only [you] can read, without...needing to share a secret key with you that would let you read messages other people send..... Public key encryption also allows people to “sign” documents with a digital signature that is almost impossible to forge.

[and] MixMaster, a mailing system designed to obscure the origins of an email message. MixMaster uses a chain of anonymous remailers – computer programs that strip all identifying information off an email and send it to its destination – to send email messages with a high degree of anonymity.

Again, all this is much slower, but obviously untraceable. Technically, setting this up involves more details than make sense to simply copy here...see the document, pp. 60-61. But you're safe to say what you want/need to this way.

Ethan ends his text with perhaps the most important advice for the would-be-anonymous blogger:

And remember not to sign your blog posts with your real name!

You might want to step away from your computer. This post will self-destruct in 30 seconds....

9 Comments:

Anonymous LA artist said...

So will you tell us how to make an explosive next? Jerry Saltz has been asking for them....

9/22/2005 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Jerry can ask Chris Hackett.

9/22/2005 03:00:00 PM  
Anonymous LA artist said...

I have to be careful what I ask for!!!

9/22/2005 09:04:00 PM  
Anonymous anonymousmark said...

That's very complex and ultimately traceable by evil governments (wonder which one?). But should you decide to accept this mission Mr Phelps I wish you well.

9/23/2005 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger JCN said...

This is great information. Another thing one can look into is an account with Anonymizer (http://www.anonymizer.com/)--they will encrypt all traffic to and from your computer and hide your internet location. Whatever option one chooses, be sure to watch for browser leaks (you might *think* you're covered, but your browser can remember your original location and broadcast it). Always check at noreply.org before posting anything.

Ed: I love your blog--been lurking for a while now. I hope all is well.

Justin

9/24/2005 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Mr. Nisbet!

How nice to hear from you. Been wondering where life's taken you.

Still ahead of the curve technology-wise I see. 5W Mignon-Media Café is a revelation.

What kind of "leaks" should folks look out for? Are these things folks will know only if they seize your laptop? Or, as "broadcast" suggests, can they trace you from some other location?

e

ps. nice to "see" you.

9/24/2005 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger JCN said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/24/2005 12:53:00 PM  
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10/07/2005 05:13:00 AM  
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10/21/2005 07:04:00 AM  

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