Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Anonymous Posting

I've been accused of leaving nasty comments anonymously on other people's sites.  This is a charge that is impossible to refute, since this blog is semi-anonymous anyway. As it happens, though, the name I use for posting here is the name I usually use when I leave comments. Sometimes I use my real name, but I never post purely anonymously.  I will say this, though.  I do not leave nasty comments.  It's rather pointless to do so, since most often the host will delete them, write something even nastier back, and/or block your IP address.  More importantly, nobody cares, and why write something nobody cares about?

Furthermore, if I really wanted to be anonymous, I would be really anonymous.  This picture is a screenshot from my sitemeter:

Notice that the IP address is in Europe, even though I am in the United States.  The domain name, operating system, and browser are not identified.  The language is correct, although I could change that if I wanted to.  Interestingly, the time and time zone are correct, and the time zone obviously is not a European time zone.  That is a clue that something funny is going on.  I don't think that the time can be altered, although the time zone could be.  But, it would not be difficult to write a script that would post a comment at a specified time, then arrange to have some kind of witnesses who could say that you were not using a computer at the time the post was posted.  

The obfuscation is accomplished by using a nonstandard web browser (Konqueror) that allows one to turn off the transmission of the usual identification strings, and by using an anonymous proxy server.  There are many of these proxy servers, so it would be possible to use a different one every day for a while.  Note that the level of anonymity is not sufficient for criminal purposes, since a government agency could subpoena the ISP and whoever is running the proxy server, and trace the origin of the post.  Alternately, one could break or hack into the servers and examine their logs illegally.  It would take a lot of time and effort, though. Ordinary folks would not be able to do that.  

Anyway, the point is that I happen to know a lot about this kind of thing, and if I really wanted to be anonymous, I would be really anonymous.

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