Darknet Part 3: How people got caught

10/07/2018

Part 3 of an occasional series of videos about the Darkweb, hidden services, anonymity… all the good stuff that we need, and need to know about!

Excellent Defcon presentation by Adrian Crenshaw detailing how some Tor users got caught.  TL;DR: it’s all down to faulty OpSec.  Be careful all the time, use your common sense, and all well be well.  So long as there aren’t 0days in Tor Browser that the Man knows about and the devs don’t…

But this isn’t too long to watch.  So watch it!  Even if you don’t use the darknet it is hugely informative and entertaining.  And if you do use Tor or otherwise have an interest in anonymity (which means you!), it is doubly informative and entertaining… in fact it is essential for everyone to watch.  So watch it!

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There’s a special browser that leads to a secret web…

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The Cypherpunk Manifestos

24/06/2018

Reading a lot about privacy and anonymity and cryptography and cryptocurrency and Darknet hidden services and Tor lately.  Something that has caught my attention is the Cypherpunk movement, and their manifestos.

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Without anonymous currency, we don’t have real anonymity

The earliest one seems to be The Crypto Anarchist’s Manifesto, written by Timothy C May in 1988.  Here’s a link to it.  Written thirty years ago, but very of the moment even now.  Read how it opens:

Computer technology is on the verge of providing the ability for individuals and groups to communicate and interact with each other in a totally anonymous manner. Two persons may exchange messages, conduct business, and negotiate electronic contracts without ever knowing the True Name, or legal identity, of the other. Interactions over networks will be untraceable, via extensive re-routing of encrypted packets and tamper-proof boxes which implement cryptographic protocols with nearly perfect assurance against any tampering. Reputations will be of central importance, far more important in dealings than even the credit ratings of today. These developments will alter completely the nature of government regulation, the ability to tax and control economic interactions, the ability to keep information secret, and will even alter the nature of trust and reputation.

A cypherpunk’s manifesto” by Eric Hughes, is also very relevant, even though it is 26 years old.  Here’s a bit:

Cypherpunks write code. We know that someone has to write software to defend privacy, and since we can’t get privacy unless we all do, we’re going to write it. We publish our code so that our fellow Cypherpunks may practice and play with it. Our code is free for all to use, worldwide. We don’t much care if you don’t approve of the software we write. We know that software can’t be destroyed and that a widely dispersed system can’t be shut down.

Cypherpunks deplore regulations on cryptography, for encryption is fundamentally a private act. The act of encryption, in fact, removes information from the public realm. Even laws against cryptography reach only so far as a nation’s border and the arm of its violence. Cryptography will ineluctably spread over the whole globe, and with it the anonymous transactions systems that it makes possible.

This is stuff that could have been written yesterday.  The technologies required for true anonymity have broken out fairly recently: encryption, cryptocurrency, all this has come to a head now.  If we don’t seize this opportunity, maybe we don’t deserve it.

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Darknet Part 1: What is the darknet and why should I care?

23/06/2018

 

Welcome to Part 1 of my guide to the Darknet.  Well, I say “mine” but it’s actually by many people.  And, just so you all know I’m not trying to pass off this guide as my own words, I’m going to show the words actually coming out of their true creators’ mouths, thanks to the miracle of video streaming over the internet! Thanks be to Youtube,eh!!

Okay, part 1 of this series is a primer on the Deep Web and the Darknet.  It’s a TEDx talk by Alex Winter (of Bill & Ted fame), entitled “The Darknet isn’t what you think”.  There are some misconception about what illegal services were available through the Silk Road website.  For instance child pornography was banned.  Stolen goods weren’t allowed.  Ads for contract killers weren’t allowed.

Anyway, check out the vid.  Enjoy!

Next time: A film about the rise and fall of the Silk Road

 


ibVPN – safe web browsing for not much money

08/06/2018
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ibVPN – a high-rated VPN service with more than 180 servers world-wide

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a technology that creates a safe and encrypted connection over a less secure network, such as the internet. VPN technology was developed as a way to allow remote users and branch offices to securely access corporate applications and other resources. Nowadays VPNs are widely used to encrypt and secure an otherwise insecure connection (such as a public wifi access point – an eavesdropper can see everything you do over McDonalds’s wifi if it isn’t encrypted!); some people use VPN service to access restricted online service – eg if you live in the UK you won’t be able to use the US Netflix service as that is geographically restricted to users in the USA.  But if you use a VPN server based in the USA, Netflix won’t be able to tell that you’re not in the USA yourself – all Netflix can see is that your traffic is coming and going from that US-based server.  This feature also lends some anonymity to the internet connection, which is another reason some people use a VPN.

And  it’s not just geographical restrictions that VPN use can help you circumvent: some work and school networks stop users accessing some sites like Youtube for instance (your employer may want you to work rather than look at cat videos) or hacker sites (schools tend to block sites with crime-related content, and as so many people associate hacking with crime, anything containing the word “hacker” gets banned).  So, the local network won’t let you view what you want?  Use a VPN, and all the local net can see is data going to/coming from the VPN server.  It knows nothing about goddamn cat memes or how to crack Facebook accounts!

For the past few years I have been using ibVPN (“Invisible Browsing”), run by Romanian-based service provider Amplusnet.  It’s not the fastest service out there, but it is competitively-priced and has global availability.  ibVPN boasts of more than 180 servers in 47 countries across the globe.  And there are 4 different service plans:

  • Ultimate, at $4.83 per month –  “Great for strong privacy and securityheavy streamingunblocking restricted websitestorrents & p2p activity. The most complete package”
  • Standard, at $3.08 per month – “Great for regular usagestreamingunblocking restricted websitesprivacy protection. Includes access to VPN and Extensions. No SmartDNS.”
  • Torrent, also $3.08 per month – “Special package for those looking to protect their identity while downloading torrents. Privacy protection. No SmartDNS or Proxy.”
  • IBDNS/SmartDNS, also $3.08 per month – “Special package designed for unblocking restricted websitesand heavy streaming. Includes SmartDNS and access to browser extensions. No VPN.”

Their All-In-One client software/apps is available for Windows, Apple MacOS and iOS, and Android devices, and the services are also compatible with Linux, most routers, smart TVs and gaming consoles.  The interface is clean and efficient (see below).

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ibVPN All-In-One client interface controls your VPN sessions

If you’re thinking of going with ibVPN but want to try before you buy, they offer a 6 hour free trial period.  And they have a 15 day money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied by the service.  This shows they have confidence in the quality of their product.

The speed of some servers/connections is not always great, but it is rarely appalling and the price is excellent.  All in all, a good service – I’ve been using it for some years now, which is the greatest praise any product could get – if I keep paying for something it’s because it’s the best!!  😉

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ibVPN could save you from ID theft, stolen bank details and so much more!

14/01/2016

Nowadays, there’s a lot going around about online secrecy, security, anonymity, theft of bank details and personal info… and a whole lot more.  For instance, did you know that you could decide to take advantage of McDonald’s free wifi while supping on a coffee… and someone else, with a gizmo like the Hak5 Pineapple, could snaffle all your data right out of the air.  And if you’d engaged in online shopping or banking, or even just putting in a password, your economic and personal freedom could possibly be stolen!

Of course, these “man-in-the-middle” attacks are nothing new.  But as tech like the pineapple gets more sophisticated, and cheaper, there are more and more evil computer-aided villains out there willing to sit near free hotspots waiting for a non-security-minded person to get tangled in their web of deceit.  In fact, these crooks don’t necessarily need a laptop to carry out these attacks – a smart phone will do much of the time.  And think about it, how many bods with smart phones do you see in McDonald’s, Burger King’s, Subway, etc etc?  That’s a lot of potential crime… and as anyone who’s suffered this before will tell you, re-securing your bank and other details is no laughing matter!

One way round these criminals is with the use of a Virtual Private Network (or VPN).  When you’re connected to the wev via a VPN, all your outgoing and incoming data is encrypted, meaning that a potential eacesdropper can’t make heads or tails out of anything you send or receive.  An excellent VPN service provider is ibVPN (invisible browser VPN).  You can get a free trial, it increases your online privacy and securely unblocks geo-restricted websites (eg you can watch BBC iPlayer even when you’re not in Britain, if you use a Brit-based server).  You can choose from +95 VPN servers in 39 countries, 63 locations, including servers set up for p2p (bittorrent etc) traffic.  You can surf the internet completely anonymously – hence the name “invisible browser”.  And their online support is extremely good – they have helped me out in the past, figuring our the most baffling problems.

Despite what you may hear on the news, enccryption and secrecy is not just for perverts, crooks or the paranoid.  In fact, that kind of thinking actually helps the crooks, putting you off using this technology to save you from criminals.

Believe me, sending an unencrypted email is like sening a letter on a postcard – easily read by anyone who can get his or her paws on it.  And with the scanning tech available, just about anyone can get a look.  Yes, you might not mind sending a “wish you were here” postcard to your mates when on holiday… but would you send sensitive info on the back of a postcard?  I know I wouldn’t.

Don’t fall prey to the crooks.  Use a service like a VPN.  And if you choose to use a VPN, ibVPN is a very good option.  They provide a very good service.

Go on, get a free trial from ibVPN.  No commitment necessary, and it could save you from the robbers and scammers!

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PS: Are you sick of crap mobile phone service?  Join GiffGaff, the mobile network run by YOU!  Get a free SIM card here.

 

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Want some privacy and security online? Check out ibVPN!

04/07/2015

I’ve been using using ibVPN for a while, and I think it’s great.  In case you don’t know, “VPN” means Virtual Priivate network.  To use Webopedia’s definition:

VPN is pronounced as separate letters and is short for virtual private network.

VPN is a network that is constructed by using public wires — usually the Internet — to connect to a private network, such as a company’s internal network. There are a number of systems that enable you to create networks using the Internet as the medium for transporting data. These systems use encryption and other security mechanisms to ensure that only authorized users can access the network and that the data cannot be intercepted.

At ibVPN they delete their logs after 10 days, which no doubt frustrates the police.  But they need to learn: Not all users of VPNs and other privacy tools are terrorists or drug traffickers.  Using a VPN, or encryption tools like PGP/GPG is like putting a letter in an envelope rather than sending a postcard that anyone can see.  I think having a private life is an essential human right.

In fact, I’ll offer Cameron and his cronies a deal: if they start posting their private emails, texts, Instant Messages and letters on a website for all to read, I’ll stop using a VPN.  I’m not talking about secret government correspondence.  Just their private, personal communications.

We got a deal, Dave?  Hmm, I guess not.


Online freedom of speech threatened (again)…

12/06/2012

The British government is considering legislation that will force websites and internet service providers to disclose the identity of alleged online “trolls”. This is in reaction to the recent conviction of Frank Zimmermann, who apparently sent nasty emails to Conservative MP Louise Mensche and other well-known people including Lord Sugar, military top brass and newspaper columnists. He narrowly avoided a custodial sentence because of his age (60 years old) and “problems” he has suffered. He was given a 26-week jail sentence, suspended for 2 years.

This case stemmed from a message to Louise Mensche after she said that sites like Twitter should be closed down if they were used to coordinate riots, as was alleged after last summer’s riots. Zimmermann sent her a message saying she was “the slut of Twitter” and went on:

We are Anonymous and we do not like rude cunts like you and your nouveau riche husband Peter Mensch. We are inside your computer, all your phones everywhere and inside your homes.

“So get off Twitter. We see you are still on Twitter. We have sent a camera crew to photograph you and your kids and we will post it over the net including Twitter, cuntface. You now have Sophie’s Choice: which kid is to go. One will. Count on it cunt. Have a nice day

Certainly a nasty message.But most regular internet users would probably shrug it off as the meaningless trolling it was. But not poor Louise. She called the police and arranged security for her family. In a victim impact statement she said she had taken the threats seriously. Personally I would advise her to grow a thicker skin if she wants to continue a career in politics. But her case went to court, Zimmermann was punished… and now the government is planning legislation that will force websites and ISPs to help identify anyone who is accused of alleged defamation and trolling. Where is the line that separates free speech and trolling? Who will get to decide that?

I don’t like the look of this. It is a clear attack on freedom of expression, all wrapped up in the Mensche case so we think of (idle) threats to children and are distracted from the fact that the government will be able to easily track down anyone who posts material that the government doesn’t like. This isn’t just ridiculous – it has very dark ramifications in a supposed democracy.

Incidentally, district judge Martin Brown accepts that computer and internet use is a fundamental human right. The judge said he had decided against banning Zimmerman from using a computer. “It had been my intention to prohibit him from using a computer and I accept the human rights angle and I accept the problems of policing that,” he said.

That’s one plus point to emerge from this case. The only plus point. Which is pretty well negated by the prospect of the government’s plans to take away our right to privacy and to freedom of expression. This is seriously bad news.

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