How anonymous do you believe you are while online?

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posted on Apr, 8 2004 @ 07:59 PM
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Surfing the Web used to be such as simple, enjoyable experience. Log on, go to the web site of your choice, enjoy the page, and head somewhere else. Those days are long gone. Nowadays it seems that the Internet has turned into sleazy carnival midway, complete with flashing lights and loud music, barkers pleading at you to venture into the sideshows, scamsters promising you big payoffs if you try three-card Monte, and slimy individual dieing to infect you and yours with some sort of nasty funk.

Since I recently received a very nasty little virus that slipped past my virus protection software I started researching many different aspects of the little secrets of the Internet. One area that I found a fond interest in is how non-anonymous we really are while on the web. Today we have pop ups, spyware, and something that many of you probably know very little about . . . WEB BUGS! All three of these can destroy our lives, but web bugs are something we really need to pay attention too and an area that we all need to become educated in.

As you already know pop ups are ads that, as the name implies, pop up over your browser, usually in a smaller window, and frequently contain flashing messages and other kinds of obnoxious come-ons. Spyware is software that piggybacks onto your hard disk on the backs of other pieces of software, reports on your activities to ad servers, and then delivers ads to you based on what sites you visit. There's typically no way to know offhand that spyware has been installed on your system, because it lurks invisiblyhence the name. Even after you uninstall the program upon which it piggybacked, it could remain on your PC, reporting on your activities.

For those who never heard of web bugs they are invisible bits of data, frequently a single 1x1 pixel in size (sometimes called "clear GIFs"), that can track all your activities on a web site and report them back to a server. These little sh-ts are one of the more pernicious ways your online activities can be tracked, no matter which browser you're using. Sometimes, the web site the bugs send information to isn't the one that contains the web bug; for example, they may send information back to an online advertising network, and that is just the nice friendly little lice. Web bugs are surprisingly common. The Cyveillance technology and analysis company found that their use grew nearly 500% between 1998 and 2001.

Alone web bugs can do little other than registers the location and name of the document that loaded the bug, your IP address, and the name and version of the program opening the document. They cannot access documents or programs stored on your computer. They cannot reveal your name, address, age, phone number, email address, or any other personally identifiable information.
However, a web bug becomes more powerful when it can access cookies set by other bugs from the same site. The Privacy Foundation has uncovered a more disturbing problem. A JavaScript can be used to turn the contents of an email into a single line, and that line can be sent as a search query to a web site loading a web bug. This would allow the author of the email to read every new comment as the email is forwarded. That could be disastrous in many different ways, you probably can imagine many scenarios on your own.

You can reduce the risks associated with web bugs with the right tools. Bugnosis is a free program that will detect hidden bugs on a web page and alert you to their presence. However, it will not stop the bugs from loading. For that, you need blocking software such as AdSubtract. AdSubtract will block web bugs and ad banners from loading if they are located on known advertising servers.

You can also change settings in Outlook Express to reduce the risk in your email. Click the Tools -> Options -> Security tab and set it to use the "Restricted" internet zone. This will not stop web bugs from loading, but it will disable all active scripting and cookies in your HTML emails. You can also turn off the display of HTML if you have Outlook Express 6 with service pack 1. Click Tools -> Options -> Read, and check the box next to "Read all messages in plain text."

As mentioned, web bugs do have a very basic use to help companies understand how their site is being used. This insight can be used to improve usability and site navigation. However, like any technology, web bugs can be abused by unscrupulous people.

So what do you think? Do 1x1 pixel web bugs scare you like they do me?

[Edited on 4/8/2004 by - G -]




posted on Apr, 9 2004 @ 12:50 AM
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hi there, yes your right no matter how hard we try to cover our asses we'll never be able to hide from 'Them'. From the moment your born you've been tagged. Americans are finger printed from birth Canadians aren't and as far as i can tell most other Nations dont do that however, who's to say they havent placed nanobots in our food, drugs, immunization shots etc. I don't worry about it as there's nothing i can do to prevent it anyways but glad to see there's a strong awareness now about it. People should be aware.



posted on Apr, 9 2004 @ 12:53 AM
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I like the irony of your post. You talk about anonymity, yet you have a picture of what I assume to be yourself as your avatar.

It's hard to be anonymous, even on this website, as i have observed instances where people on this board trace your IP and try to get personal info as well.

Unfortunately, the mods arent the only one with this privilege. Somtimes, people with the word "Scholar" or "Writer" or possibly anything other than "member" below their screen names have the ability to conduct some traces.



posted on Apr, 9 2004 @ 12:55 AM
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I used to work for an ISP in England. If necessary, I could have traced every one of our customers, seen which sites they visited and even read their email.

I have always said that you should never say anything on the net that that you wouldnt want shouted from the rooftops.



posted on Apr, 9 2004 @ 03:36 AM
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Originally posted by AlnilamOmega
Unfortunately, the mods arent the only one with this privilege. Somtimes, people with the word "Scholar" or "Writer" or possibly anything other than "member" below their screen names have the ability to conduct some traces.


At least not those with scholar status, and I doubt fighter or writer have it. Usually only mods and admins have this power.

You're never anonymous on the internet. You can do your best though by using a good firewall. I also use Mozilla Firefox with custom cookie settings and adblock, but I also kept Internet Explorer on the computer, but with maximum security. Personally I recommend you change the security settings from the zone 'internet' to make those the same as in 'restricted'. All the sites you trust can then be moved to 'trusted', which will have the settings of the normal 'internet' zone. After I did this a year ago until the time I moved to Firefox, neither Adaware or Spybot found anything ever.



posted on Apr, 9 2004 @ 03:45 AM
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I try not to stay anonymous hense my name. Besides I have nothing of interest to the higher authorities.



posted on Apr, 9 2004 @ 09:37 PM
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Some IE tips. First, you can go into IE, tools, internet options, security, custom level and set
how you want IE to deal with activeX and Java. If you screw it up, return it to default level.
Depending on which version you have, you can control how you allow IE to process
cookies either under security or under the advanced tab.
Personally, I have never had a virus that I did not intentionally go get to study it, nor do I
run anti-virus programs. As a rule, cookies tend to be the primary source of pop-ups,
but thats on sites where they require a cookie to do functions. Even those sites work a bit
with cookies disabled. Set cookies to prompt if you want to study this and map who is doing
what to whom. For the home user, a network sniffer can be used to read the cookie content,
and any other traffic that enters or leaves your machine.
I usually run win ME and IE 6.0 when on ATS. Otherwise I use Open BSD with Mozilla
and sun microsystems active scripting. With BSD, a virus has to ask permission to run,
so if you are very familiar with what is on the machine, you just say no to drugs and go to the
file and delete it when you think of it. Beats keeping up with all the anti-virus upgrades.
As far as tracking on the internet, it is inherent in the design of TCP/IP. You cannot be on
the internet without having an IP address. (Unless your ISP is proxing for your IP address)
The address may be random (usually with dial ups) or fixed, (with some broadband).
All ISP's in the US have a minimal record keeping requirement that must be made available
upon request (Homeland security). This usually includes who (of their users) were online
and when, and using what IP address. I believe this is also true in the UK, Australia, and Canada.
The two primary means of disguising your IP address (identity) would be
by bouncing or spoofing. Bouncing is the hardest to detect but requires complicity from
anothe IP source. Spoofing means you think you are good enough to play games with
the internet warfare folks, cause it will most surely get their attention. (not recommended)
If your access is from work or school, then the system admin has these records. The
basic webloggers for sites such as ATS would include your ID, the horse (IP) you came in on,
what you accessed and when, with what Internet browser and version. I would imagine
the ATS folk have greatly customized it after that to provide the statistics for the site.
If I wanted to be anonomous, I simply would not do this from home.


/\/ight\/\/ing



posted on Apr, 9 2004 @ 09:47 PM
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to answer your question......not very.

i realized a long time ago that no one can truly be anonymous, we can all be tracked, and traced to a certain degree. I have nothing to hide...well except for those skeletons in my closet
so it doesn't bother me.

plus if i really needed to hide from "them" i wouldn't be posting on message boards and doing searches on "key" trigger words.



posted on Apr, 9 2004 @ 09:51 PM
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Originally posted by AlnilamOmega
Unfortunately, the mods arent the only one with this privilege. Somtimes, people with the word "Scholar" or "Writer" or possibly anything other than "member" below their screen names have the ability to conduct some traces.



uh...how about..no. No members have access to IP's. Even the mods are limited when it comes to IP as theri oinly allowed to view IP's in the forums the mod. I dont know where you aquired this info, but its a lie.



posted on Apr, 9 2004 @ 09:55 PM
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Originally posted by Pisky
I used to work for an ISP in England. If necessary, I could have traced every one of our customers, seen which sites they visited and even read their email.

I have always said that you should never say anything on the net that that you wouldnt want shouted from the rooftops.

Exactly! Anyone who's worked in the compuer industry is familiar with just how many footprints we leave in cyberspace. We're not anonymous, and we should remember that when we do things here on the web.



posted on Apr, 9 2004 @ 09:59 PM
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but its a lie == theshadowknows

I would not bet money on that if I were you.

/\/ight\/\/ing



posted on Apr, 9 2004 @ 10:05 PM
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Your "web bugs" are actually called "pingers" in the industry, and are nothing more than simple ways that sites allow some advertisers to know which pages you're on, and which ads you've seen. They cannot report on anything more than that... however, sophisticated analysis software can build a profile about you, based on knowledge of the content of the pages with the pingers. I understand your frustration. I'm on some anti-spam committees and Internet ethics groups, so I'm familiar with your issues. However, it's more related to a few types of evil operators than the Internet in general.



posted on Apr, 9 2004 @ 10:08 PM
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The only people I believe don't have a clue to who I am are the ordinary people like me. The web sites, government, advertisers and anyone with access know or can know.

I had fun when I first used the internet and thought I was completely anonymous. Over the years I learned alot about the opposite. I believe all email and postings could probably be used in a court of law now. That is if I don't claim temporary insanity.


Just a year ago I surfed upon an off the wall telephone company web site and then this same company called me the next day trying to get me to sign up. I was only on their site for a few minutes and gave them no info. Well I didn't even if my ip etc. etc. got sent anyway.



posted on Apr, 9 2004 @ 10:25 PM
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I like to think i'm somewhat safe using my 256 bit encryption stream although it doesn't apply for websites all my documents are safely hidden out of view even if im compromised.



posted on Apr, 9 2004 @ 10:37 PM
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I like to think i'm somewhat safe using my 256 bit encryption stream == thedarkprojekt

I recall seeing an article on Drudge about a year ago
that had an interesting piece on a mathematician in
India who had worked out a theoritical scheme for
breaking all prime number based encription processes.
The article I cannot reference (its gone) and so has
the mathematician. Wonder who hired him??

/\/ight\/\/ing



posted on Apr, 9 2004 @ 11:05 PM
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I think you can become overly paranoid about how much info you give out on the net.

In the end who really gives a sh!t?

Unless you are into some criminal activity, or trying to do something you are embarrased about being revelaed in public, then its not really an issue.

Sure the admin here could pull your IP and email addy. With enough work, and time, you might find out the name of the person who is the poster ... maybe .. simple techniques would quickly make the trail go cold, like only using your email once, and not divulging any info on it.


Some of the terrorists were caught because they used Yahoo (I think) and their IP's were traced from there. But for us anonymous Joe's, of which there are billions of us, its not really an issue.



posted on Apr, 9 2004 @ 11:53 PM
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All I gotta say is look at my sig.



posted on Apr, 10 2004 @ 12:08 AM
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I went to Mozilla Firefox myself and I forget about popups until I get on another computer.

For the most part you are anonymous unless someone at a server your connecting to has a reason to look. Of course if your connecting to sites that are questionable your going to have more questionable people running them.

You can be more anonymous by connecting to sites that you use them to do your surfing, so the IP seen is theirs and not yours. There is a small fee for the service.

There's even anonymous email servers that tear the headers off you mail, so there's no forensic evidence in the form your mails route that leads back to you. Depending on the country of origin of the mail servers they can still be asked to give your info if theres an ongoing investigation.

It is a fact that information gathering agencies have admitted running some of these anonymous servers, so don't get too comfortable if your a real bad guy either.

Personally, I don't give a rats butt or I would surf from the library. If I have anything that I don't want someone to see it goes on a removeble disk as well as the things I don't want them to erase. If they really want to look at my family pictures hope they like em. I expect to redo my system every few months - Seems like a new computer every time no matter how clean I try to keep it.



posted on Apr, 10 2004 @ 12:30 AM
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Why would someone wanna see where I've been, not pretty. Nothing but garbage and nothing. I choose not to learn computer codes to keep myself out of trouble(i hate stupid tecchnology) and know id do something stupid if given the keys to hack.

There could be artificial intelligence on the net with all the stands of data out there for all im concerned. I like the idea of the goverment having full access to everything that goes on out here for security measures.

Spying and gossiping is not right, spying is not seeing it all and gossiping is not the truth.



posted on Apr, 10 2004 @ 12:37 AM
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Hmm...not very. Anyone can hack into your system, and basically access anything they want...

Anyways, what do you think government agents do all the time while on the internet? (Besides surfing, they hack into computers and make sure there is no 'terrorist' info)...

-wD





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