Google knows exactly where I am, what can I do ?

Discussion in 'privacy problems' started by Fly, Oct 21, 2010.

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  1. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    I'd call this a problem !

    This is something I noticed after installing SP3 for this Windows XP workstation. I don't know if the service pack makes a difference. I could restore an image, but even if it didn't show the location Google might still have my address.

    It is very close, not just city but zip code ! It shows up in a Google search.
    I use a wireless router, encrypted. I *thought* they had not collected the local wifi data (Europe), but I could be wrong. Google suggests they get that data from my IP, but I'm not so sure. In the past IP lookups sometimes got my city, sometimes a different city, but this is different.

    So what can I do ? This is too creepy.

    I'd almost run to a VPN, but I presume these are logged, expensive and I'm not so sure they would help.

    My browser is IE 7. I could revert to SP2, but even if it didn't show up I might still be tracked.

    Any suggestions are welcome.

    Besides my ISP, would any other organization have the same data ?

    Btw, I use a HOSTS file. I ran CCleaner, but the problem persists. I also noticed Windows messenger as a browser extension. Since I haven't seen it before it must have been part of the updates ?
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2010
  2. Eice

    Eice Registered Member

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    This isn't exclusive to Google. Anyone who gets hold of your IP address (read: every site you've visited, plus every server hop along the traceroute) can track you down to an accuracy of 2-4 blocks with virtually zero effort. Assuming they give enough of a damn to do it, that is.
     
  3. dw426

    dw426 Registered Member

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    I wish people would understand this. It isn't just about Google, though people bring up Google the very first thing when online privacy comes up. Hell, I can just pay a few bucks to any number of background check websites and find out whatever I want about anyone I want. If my little civilian butt can do that, of course someone who truly WANTS that information can. But, back on topic, Eice is right. An IP address is more than good enough for you to be found, and, regardless of VPNs and this and that security measures, SOMEONE has it and has it logged.

    Luckily, most websites DON'T give a damn, they just want your eyes and ears. If you truly don't want to have a great chance of being found, you should probably just log off your computer, cancel your internet and not come back to the web. Of course if someone still wants you, they'll still be able to find you, between the years-long logged IP address you previously used, bank accounts, health records, and on and on. Unless you plan to go hang out with tribal groups in the jungle or something, it's getting harder to just disappear.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2010
  4. caspian

    caspian Registered Member

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    What exactly is it that you are talking about? You have jumped from "Google knows exactly where I am" to "I noticed after installing SP3 for this Windows XP".

    What did you notice? Based on what you have said it is impossible to know what you are referring to. Did you see your IP address somewhere? Or a geolocation map?
     
  5. katio

    katio Guest

    That's basically an assumption, and it's wrong.
    With a dynamic IP you need a court order or similar to get the ISP to hand over the identity of their customer.
    If you had said "MAC address of your wireless router" that's a different story. But even then, a properly secured browser doesn't reveal one's MAC to every random site.
     
  6. caspian

    caspian Registered Member

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    You mean there is a public record of MAC addresses of the routers in people's homes?
     
  7. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    Really ?

    I've had a couple of different IPs, host name/machine names( or whatever it's called). I wouldn't really mind (much) tracking my city. I've seen that before, and sometimes the city was incorrect.

    The zip code is just creepy. Not that many people have the same zip code as mine. For all I know, they may have the exact address, right to my door !

    I would not be surprised if the NSA could get my personal details, or a different organization that would really make an effort to identify me.
    As in, paying money, doing research. But the casual way it can be done is something else.

    For as far as I know, my ISP assigns an IP address to my router. Unless that has changed. So how ? And for as far as I know, I have no geolocation services running.

    Are you saying that even a VPN is useless ?

    I'm reasonably careful about my personal details on the internet. I don't use Facebook or anything like that.

    What are my options, besides going off the grid ?

    I may have seen some localized searches in the past. But they either just referred to a city, which was sometimes incorrect, or clearing the browser cache/history would reset this. No more.

    Btw, I have restored an image with SP2. Even after running CCleaner, Google still has my address. On the positive side, I no longer have a Windows messenger browser extension or anything of the sort.
     
  8. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    I noticed Google personalizing my searches. As in, with city and zip code.
    It's something I noticed after I decided to install SP3. Maybe coincicince ?
    After restoring an image with Windows XP SP2 that's still with location information. No google toolbar, I just type google.x (x =country) in IE 7.
    Allowing or blocking cookies doesnt seem to make a difference.

    Whenever I 'google', I see my city plus zip code in the left side of the screen.
    And Google doesn't allow me to opt out.
     
  9. dw426

    dw426 Registered Member

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    Cleaning out your browser, reloading the OS and all that doesn't take your information from Google. It's stored on their side, not yours. The NSA has long had your information and every other citizen of the U.S, that's a given. Your IP address will give you away, but there's a LOT more other records and numbers that would do it easier. I'm still wondering exactly what you are referring to, did you look up your own name in Google or something, or did you use an IP lookup tool on yourself? I'm not quite understanding. But, yes, a VPN is useless against an entity like the NSA/CIA. To them it's annoying as hell, but that's about it. The FBI or lower would have a harder time due to less access to tech and having less "people in the right places".

    Your cable modem has an IP address, usually your "real IP" and not the used everywhere "192" number of your router that you usually see. That real IP is what you see when you visit the speedtest websites and other places. Every website has your real IP, there is no way around that unless you use a proxy or some such thing. But, as said before, SOMEONE has that IP at all times, so you're never truly hidden. As for going "off the grid", good luck. Between your workplace, the internet, the DMV, hospitals/doctor offices, utility services and so on, you might as well have a homing device attached to you.

    Edit: Nevermind, I know now what you are talking about in regards to Google. Do you happen to be using iGoogle?
     
  10. caspian

    caspian Registered Member

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    First, I use a VPN. Any website that you go to can see your IP address and it does tell them your approximate location....like the city and your ISP. Your ISP of course knows exactly who has any IP at any given time.

    Do you use Firefox? Take a look at this blog:

    http://blog.mozilla.com/webdev/2009/05/01/geolocation-in-the-browser/

    You can disable geolocation in Firefox by typing about:config in the address bar. Then type geo. (something)...you'll see it pop up, and just right click and choose toggle from "true" to "false", then restart your browser. If you use noscript, block gstatic. That is evidently what Google uses for geolocation. When geolocation is enabled in Firefox, you will see it listed in NoScript when you go to that blog and give it permission to see your location.
     
  11. hierophant

    hierophant Registered Member

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    Yes, caspian, there are many, ranging from wardriving databases compiled by students etc., to commercial efforts by Google and its competitors. Just google geolocation.

    We've discussed this at length. You must disable geolocation in your browser. For Firefox, enter "about:config" in the address window, click past the dragons warning, type geo in the filter box, and toggle the value of the geo.enabled line from true to false. You can also set the geolocation resource URL from https://www.google.com/loc/json to https://null.

    Edit: Oops, caspian -- didn't see your post
     
  12. hierophant

    hierophant Registered Member

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    If you have geolocation enabled, and you allow a website to locate you by looking up your wifi router's MAC in some wardriving database, using a VPN will make no difference. Indeed, if you do that, the website will thereafter associate that location with the VPN's IP address (until said IP's owner requests correction of the entry, anyway). Furthermore, subsequent VPN customers with that IP address who visit that website will be assigned the address of your wifi router, even if they have geolocation disabled -- because the assignment is now IP-based, which doesn't require geolocation to be enabled. If you do that with a popular website, such as Google, you can mess with lots of people ;)
     
  13. katio

    katio Guest

    Who said public?
    Google has it that's all that matters for this thread. Every Andorid handset is collecting data for them. If you got a static IP, MAC or your browser's geolocation isn't even needed.

    OP: do you have a static IP? If so you might get your ISP to change it.
     
  14. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    I don't think I have geolocation enabled. Windows XP Home Edition SP2 IE 7.
    I briefly went to SP3, I don't know if there is something in SP3 that could have done this.

    I'm not sure if I allow my router's MAC to be captured by wardriving.
    WPA-PSK AES2 encryption.

    It has been months since I seriously studied these privacy/security issues, so there is a lot that I don't rember.
     
  15. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    Technically dynamic, but it rarely changes. (cable)
    So mostly static.
    My ISP doesn't change IP addresses for consumers on request.
     
  16. Fly

    Fly Registered Member

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    I did not look up my own name.
    I typed the URL of Google in IE 7. Whenever I perform a search, in the left column below Google and the search string, my city and zip code are displayed.

    I was not referring to the '192' number, but to my external (public) IP.
    My ISP assigns an IP to a router (MAC based ?), unless that has changed.

    I don't really mind people recording my IP address, but that Google has my address right up to the zip code is disturbing and unwanted.

    For as far as I know I have never used iGoogle. I access google only by the IE 7 browser.
     
  17. JuanP1000

    JuanP1000 Registered Member

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  18. caspian

    caspian Registered Member

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    Do they actually have the person's name and their physical address? Jeezus! What if you bought a new router? Would that take care of it?

    Would a MAC address spoofer throw them off....like SMAC? SMAC MAC Address Changer 2.0.5


    Beyond that I guess the only recourse would be to unhook the router and connect directly through the cable.
     
  19. hierophant

    hierophant Registered Member

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    Please see the replies to caspian re how to disable geolocation in Firefox. Anyone know how to do that in IE etc?

    That doesn't prevent MAC scraping via wardriving. Wardriving doesn't depend on connecting to the network, just logging its public announcement.

    There's no time like now ;)
     
  20. hierophant

    hierophant Registered Member

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    Well, they have the GPS coordinates of the location where they logged your wifi router's MAC address (which it broadcasts). In order to get your name and street address, they'd need to link to databases containing that information via the GPS coordinates. The links may be somewhat uncertain, and I'm sure it's doable.

    Yes, that would.

    HEY, I have an idea. We could set up a router exchange. Send in your XYZ router, and get one from a different continent. That'd mess with their databases ;) Of course, then we'd need to worry about malware-infested routers :doubt:

    No, SMAC changes the MAC of your computer's NIC, not the router's MAC.

    Didn't someone post a script recently for changing router MACs? I'll look later.

    Edit: I misremembered. I was thinking of lotuseclat79's post (#30) -- which changes the MAC address of the computer's NIC.

    Yes. I wouldn't use a wifi router unless it was inside a good Faraday cage.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2010
  21. CloneRanger

    CloneRanger Registered Member

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    Exact Zip code is very disturbing :(

    I would suggest you don't use Google directly anymore, so they can't datamine you anymore ;)

    Use a proxy and/or for eg - https://startingpage.com - :thumb:
     
  22. caspian

    caspian Registered Member

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    But if Google is doing it then, others are also, that we are unaware of, or they will be shortly. So I am betting that, just like VPN's were created to circumvent IP tracking, there will be some new software that will circumvent geolocation tracking.
     
  23. caspian

    caspian Registered Member

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    I love that! th_crylaughin.gif

    What is a Farady Cage?
     
  24. caspian

    caspian Registered Member

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    Then stay away from youtube also, because they are Google
     
  25. CloneRanger

    CloneRanger Registered Member

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    Some will be for sure, but Google is one of the worst offenders :thumbd:

    You could mix up your surfing by using different proxies/VPN's for different things ;)

    Only use a direct ISP route for normal stuff, anything else go proxy etc, HTTPS if poss.
     
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