Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Privacy Gimmicks

The thread about "IP address recording" got me interested in the privacy topic.  A topic of concern to some, but what is more interesting are the links provided to gimmicks like "Anonimyzer" and other programs that promise to destroy or prevent harmful activity, most for a small fee.

I ran the test on each of those pages and the only things they detected were my IP address and the name of my ISP.

This leads me to believe that most people running IE or any browser fail to set the security settings for the Internet zone.  Not a difficult thing to do and most fall for these "privacy gimmicks."  Buy this product and the FBI won't come after you.  LOL.  I think the FBI has better things to do than chase down every shmuck that looks at porn on the internet.  (Is looking at porn a crime?  Adultery maybe?)

Now why Microsoft doesn't configure these to reasonable settings to begin with is beyond me.

Is it not common sense to run a firewall, set secure settings in your browser and use common sense when surfing the web?

KI
Friday, December 19, 2003

Lots of people surf from places where there is much more intrusive monitoring or extensive restrictions, either in the form of corporate Web monitoring/blocking or in places with restrictive governments, like China with its "Great Firewall". Anonymizing your surfing may not seem important if you are a consumer connecting through an ISP in a modern Western democracy with reasonable protections for individual rights and adherence to rule of law. But if I were a secularist in Iran, for example, I might think differently.

John C.
Friday, December 19, 2003

I love how the anonymizer link doesn't work with any browser but IE.  Probably because the other browsers don't have a billion and one security holes in them.

Mike
Friday, December 19, 2003

See http://www.browserhawk.com/showbrow.asp if you'd like to see what is detectable.  Doing a reverse DNS on my IP address also shows my city.

Once this data is correlated by different tracking services, then it becomes sorta like the credit card comanies who know all about our buying habits :-)

Scot Doyle
Friday, December 19, 2003

Restrictive governments block anonymizers. The Saudis even blocked AOL because it acted as an anonymizer.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, December 20, 2003

What about those peer-to-peer privacy guards that distribute requests across the network.

I.e. Stephen Jones and I use this program, and whenever either of us connects to a web page, the actual request could come from either of us.

Distribute this across 5,000 users, and you'll have 5,000 IP addresses that may request any page or graphic. While this means my individual IP address may do something illegal, it also means that there's absolutely no way Joel will know who I am when I request a page apart from browser cookies, and since there are (probably) no records of the network traffic between IP addresses, it makes the user much more anonymous.

I remember reading about one of these a few years ago that was specifically targeted at allowing users in China to access web pages they wouldn't otherwise be able to access.

www.MarkTAW.com
Saturday, December 20, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home