using a wireless air card to be anonymous?

Discussion in 'privacy technology' started by scrty001, Mar 7, 2009.

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  1. scrty001

    scrty001 Registered Member

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    I was wondering if I was to use a wireless air card or usb broadband modem on a laptop. Then used a vpn service like xerobank to connect through for any online activity.

    How much more anonymous would having a wireless air card or usb broadband modem make me?

    Assuming the wireless air card and usb broadband was using a prepaid plan so there's no name or personal info with the company.

    Is it possible to trace individuals through GPS on wireless air cards? Or does the individual have to be online during the trace?
     
  2. Z32

    Z32 Registered Member

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    Disclaimer: for the purposes of my response, I'll go with the most extreme of hypothetical circumstances I can conjure up. Also assuming you're just privacy conscious, so please don't interpret my responses as inferring you're up to no good :)


    Any MAC address (if applicable) should belong to the device itself (which you'll purchase anonymously), from what I can tell, as opposed to using your own wi-fi card to connect to a network (could be traced back to your laptop purchase). So that's one less 'reveal'...in theory.

    Some points of consideration are:

    . Are you currently being surveilled (or have reason to believe you are)?

    . Will the purchase occur within your local area/a center you frequent?

    . Does the store have security cameras? Would be easy enough for any competent adversary to obtain footage and corresponding purchase info.

    . Who will purchase the device/s (will you do it, or will you put someone up to it)? - do you trust them?

    . Where/how will you make 'top-up' payments for the pre-paid service?

    . What area/location will you be using the device from? (home/on the road, etc.)

    Point of purchase, payment method and subsequent top-up points could directly correlate with your personal movements, if keeping them mutually exclusive was of concern.

    . You'd also need to 'trust' the VPN provider isn't a honeypot/rogue, otherwise the level of anonymity you've obtained for yourself is potentially non-existent...so your usage (what you visit i.e. net banking) need also be looked at.

    I would assume the laptop would need to be powered on/at the very least hibernated, if the wireless device sources power from the laptop and not an external power source (power point or battery pack). Thinking about it, hibernation should deactivate the device but I'm not certain.

    I don't know the device specifics to be able to state whether it's constantly transmitting identifiable data when powered-on or not (think MAC/device id), regardless of whether an active session is connected with username/password.

    That said, last-used transmitter/communications tower or hub would probably be logged with the provider. So if someone's trying to track you, I would assume only the 'authorities'/provider itself would be able to obtain that info...and that's assuming your anonymity has been compromised.

    If the device does use GPS, I'm not sure of the implications there...I guess it depends on its application. Possible to deactivate without compromising wireless service?

    Please don't take any of it as gospel, I'm sure some experts on here can shed light on it for you.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2009
  3. n33m3rz

    n33m3rz Registered Member

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    It is possible to trace back WiFi to the receiver if the receiver broadcasts (which you will do) so it isn't perfect anonymity. For your purely hypothetical theoretical study of internet anonymity I suggest you use a new Mac address and drive around hitting up various public WiFi hot spots not using any one for very long. That plus Tor and you will be tough to track down. By the time your research partner (playing the role of your adversary) tracks you down via the Tor network to the Hot Spot you used, you will be at a new Hot spot with a new Tor exit and a new Mac address, meaning that you will no longer be broadcasting a signal for them to triangulate with two long range WiFi antennas on mobile laptops (which is the main way they would do it if you were using a consistent WiFi hotspot for prolonged periods of time, say your neighbor), and you will once again blend in with the crowd (they can't just look at a ton of public WiFi devices for your Mac address, or find you down the same Tor Circuit, as both will have changed).

    Of course the only reason you will need this strong of anonymity is if you are up to no good, or your government sucks, so I am as always assuming you are a communist dissenter in China.
     
  4. scrty001

    scrty001 Registered Member

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    well to clear all the hypothetical talk i'm getting... i'm not doing anything up to no good. I seem to have to say this in every thread. I'm just wondering for my own information/interest. whenever people talk about things being impossible or very difficult such as being anonymous online my brain just starts thinking and tries to find solutions to any problem. I just like the challenge.

    ok now to get back to the thread...

    as for all the steps about how the purchases would be made etc.., i'm not really interested in discussing that part since as I said I'm not going to be doing anything like this, i'm just discussing out of interest. I am more interested in discussing the part about being traced and being anonymous online using a wireless card.

    so some of my questions have been answered such as the radio signal can definately be traced. is it traced by the mac address? if so, can't a mac changing software change the mac address on the wireless air card? then use a new mac address every time?

    also as for tracing it has been said you can be traced using a wireless air card.. do you have to be online at that time to be traced? if you can spoof the mac address then is it the same as using a completely different card?

    I know about using public wifi's but, that's a simple solution not the reason I made this thread to find a solution or "how-to". more of a discussion about being traced online using wireless cards from a fixed location.

    "By the time your research partner (playing the role of your adversary) tracks you down via the Tor network to the Hot Spot you used, you will be at a new Hot spot with a new Tor exit and a new Mac address, meaning that you will no longer be broadcasting a signal for them to triangulate with two long range WiFi antennas on mobile laptops (which is the main way they would do it if you were using a consistent WiFi hotspot for prolonged periods of time, say your neighbor),"

    you've mentioned being able to get traced to wifi hot spots although this is where a wirless air card is different since there's not a fixed location. they work how cell phones work. so is the only way to trace you would be if you went online again with that same card? what if you changed the mac address? if you used this card once and didn't use it again could you be traced to the location of where the signal was broadcasted from? can they trace signals that have occured in the past? like logs of where the signal came from?
     
  5. Warlockz

    Warlockz Registered Member

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    Why would you use tor in this case? I don't understand why you would use something so slow, my advice is learn how to use a Proxy, and which ones are safe to use, like something out of the reach of the authority in wich you live, 3rd world country ECT

    Also, you could buy a laptop from almost any store, and they cant trace it back to you unless you register your windows/laptop ECT! and If you want to remain anonymous, don't use any personal Identifiable information when playing MR Anonymous!

    I would by one from a Crackhead myself, then you only have to pay like $50-150 bucks, LOL

    If you would like to learn more, find a good Hacker forum!

    Oh yea, here is a link to a free Mac address changer, if it makes you feel safer!

    http://tmac.technitium.com/tmac/index.html
    _________________________________________________________________________________________
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2009
  6. n33m3rz

    n33m3rz Registered Member

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    Well even if you hit up public WiFi spots with a spoofed Mac address and you never stay at one of them for more than half an hour, and you never use the same Wifi spot twice in a row (distribute the total WiFi spots used up and try and randomly use them from that set) the adversary could still gather a lot of information on you. They could see where you live, or where you are staying, for one. If you use Tor they will have trouble to pin point you to a specific part of the world, much less a specific country or territory or city or whatever. It pretty much just adds to the overall anonymity. Tor to make it difficult to find where to even begin looking, public wifi with a spoofed Mac address so that if they do manage to narrow it down to a geographic area (aka the WiFi hotspot used) you will be long gone and they can't bust out the directional antennas and trace you down to yourself. The next time they want to trace you down they will need to again trace down the Tor network to find the WiFi spot you are using. They will already know your probable geographic location since they already traced you down once, but since you are using a new Mac address and a new WiFi hotspot, them knowing your city or whatever is not very useful and they will need to trace a Tor circuit down again (to find the new hotspot location) and once again by the time they get to the hotspot with directional antennas you will be long gone, ETC.

    Just using WiFi hotspot and spoofed Mac:

    1. Doesn't help keep your geographic location a secret

    2. Doesn't give you as much "safe time" (the time it takes for people with directional antennas to physically show up) per WiFi hotspot, since if you just use WiFi hotspot they can instantly see where you are and rush over to there.


    Even using a static proxy doesn't matter much. If they trace you back once and compromise your proxy, next time they can start from the proxy and you may as well not be using it. Better for a massive network like Tor where you can blend in well with tens or hundreds of thousands of others. Outside the jurisdiction doesn't mean much these days, the world is a massive international web and everyone works together. Since you specifically bring up a mention of legal authority, I just wonder if you have ever heard of Interpol? Or if it is identity thieves that worry a person, it is commonly known that they work together internationally as well. Plus jurisdiction doesn't mean anything to someone who disregards the law, Panama or USA makes no difference to a hacker.

    Haha what a sketchy conversation this has turned out to be. I also want to leave a disclaimer that this is really just hypothetical and this thread has merely peaked my curiosity.

    Also of note is that to really play james bond you shouldn't actually use a car to go to the WiFi hotspots, you should at least park a few blocks away to reduce chances of a license plate showing up on a CCTV camera or something. Also might help to wear a hat and sun glasses to avoid facial recognition, and of course gloves so you don't leave any finger prints that a CCTV camera sees you leave that can be drawn off objects and compared to a database (that is in the possesion of a 16 year old highschool student who picked up a unencrypted laptop of one of the incompetent officals :rolls eyes: :Sarcasm:) to compromise your identity that way. I guess what I am saying is keep side channel attacks in mind, a solid metal door is worthless if it is right next to a glass window.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2009
  7. Warlockz

    Warlockz Registered Member

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    How are they going to figure out who you are if you are using a High Anonymous L1 Elite Proxy from some 3rd world country? The IP will come up as something from some foreign country, they don't even have access to any of the logs if you know where to look for a good proxy, unless your doing some serious hacking then they may be able to trace route your location but you would have had to be active at the location they are trying to trace, but their would have had to be something that would have to set them off of your active activities!

    or an attacker could always take control of someone elses machine wile using an Elite Proxy and use it, which isn't very hard to do because their is so many people out their who are clueless when it comes to securing their machines!

    all the above mention sounds like its being a little over paranoid, if you ask me, I wouldn't have as much concern unless I was involved in some serious hacking or some sort of terrorist activities!
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2009
  8. n33m3rz

    n33m3rz Registered Member

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    It was a thought experiment , not really meant to be taken seriously. I sure wouldn't personally go to all that trouble because I have no need to. I feel plenty anonymous using Tor and one of the open WiFi connections I can get from my apartment.

    A single hop proxy is no good. It depends on the adversary actually. Since this thought experiment is concerning the "ultimate" anonymity, we assume that the adversary is global, extremely well funded and very powerful. An example would be China, I really like to use China as an example because there you can get thrown in prison or worse for saying communism is bad so it wouldn't be security over kill to use the steps I outlined above for a communist whistle blower / dissenter in China. The chinese government would do a lot to silence them, their life would be on the line, it wouldn't be over kill and they would be doing nothing wrong.

    Ok let's say you use public WiFi and a single hop proxy with a spoofed Mac address. You access the WiFi device, spoofed Mac address is logged, the WiFi device connects over the internet to a single hop proxy in Panama, from Panama it goes to a anti communist website that is a sting run by the Chinese government.

    The Chinese government wants to know every chinese dissenter in the world, and have the funds to try and track you down even though there is a chance you don't live in China. They find the Panama proxy, buy them off, hack them, use some messed up international law to force them to cooperate (unlikely in this scenario).

    They the wait for the next time you log on. You go to a new WiFi hotspot, spoofed mac address is logged, you connect to the WiFi device and it connects to the proxy in Panama, the Chinese Government has already compromised this proxy and are waiting 24 / 7 for it to be accessed again. They see you are connected to it, boom they have the IP of the WiFi hotspot, see it is in China and instantly send an alert to the local Chinese Dissenter Police , they are probably there with in five minutes in an unmarked van and whip out directional WiFi antennas and triangulate signals that are going to the WiFi device. This time they just do surveillance on everyone connecting to the device in the general area.

    Next time you use a new WiFi hotspot but this time the Chinese Dissenter Police see you for a second time but no one else who was at the first place, so they are highly suspecting it is you now, they throw you and your computer in their van and that is the last anyone hears of you, and the last anyone hears you whistleblowing the chinese government. Maybe you were in a political office and leaking inside information.

    This is a realistic threat model for some people who are not criminals, hackers, terrorists or anything bad.

    If you use Tor, you will blend in with so many other people, and you will use so many different Exit nodes, that this threat is no where near as serious. By the time they trace back the connection to the WiFi spot you will be gone, leaving only a Mac address that has no ties to you, and CCTV footage of some chinese dude with a hat and sunglasses. You probably touched lots of stuff, but had gloves so left no prints. The next time you go to the Chinese Dissenters website at a new WiFi hotspot, they can't just use an old compromised proxy to skip half the work, they need to trace you back time after time after time unless they manage to compromise a large portion of the Tor network (which is also possible mind you, but less likely than the chances they will simply buy off a third world proxy provider)

    =)
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2009
  9. Z32

    Z32 Registered Member

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    Agreed. I do feel sorry for the 'good guys' who have to resort to those methods though. At least there are ways to see them protected from harm. Good discussion.

    Be mindful of any Chinese pool cleaning / cable repair vans parked outside today.

    [just kidding.]

    Are you selective with what you do/don't do over Tor (emailing, online banking, etc.)? When you say "plenty anonymous", I get the impression that means you're not doing much more than surfing.


    Warlockz, could you please explain for me what that is exactly? I get the impression it's a different concept to XeroBank and other networks mentioned here. When I read '3rd world country' I pictured a dust-covered server / router in Somalia :p


    I'm the first to admit I don't know enough about these sorts of things, but I do love to put on my 007 hat from time to time :cool:
     
  10. LockBox

    LockBox Registered Member

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    I agree, it's sad that so many have to have their net filtered, censored and all under great threat to themselves. The strange thing is, even though China is run by the "Communist Party" it is actually the farthest thing from communism. Many of the ones they throw are in jail are the people wanting to go back to Mao's China, which was truly communist. Go figure.
     
  11. scrty001

    scrty001 Registered Member

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    alright well at least theres some lols in this thread

    I guess it's going to be difficult to get some feedback on wireless air cards, we keep discussing public wifi's and the topic of not getting caught.

    might as well go off topic then - speaking of tor, I heard there are many honeyspots on tor since just anybody can setup a server. you don't know if they are keeping logs or not. I was going to say jurisdiction as well but, you're saying it doesn't matter to some people. then what about the issue of connection leaks? any leaks in your connection will reveal you.

    just to go back to the topic of wireless cards - public wifis keep being mentioned but, if you used a wireless air card...couldn't you literally go anywhere you want where this cell phone coverage? instead of being limited to a specific location such as public wifis? then you wouldn't have to worry about people with triangular antennas showing up (if that was your concern)?
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2009
  12. n33m3rz

    n33m3rz Registered Member

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    I just looked up wireless air card. It should be as easy to triangulate as a cellphone, aka, pretty easy. Sorry to take your thread off topic I misunderstood yo uat first.
     
  13. n33m3rz

    n33m3rz Registered Member

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    I would feel safe to do banking over Tor I think, although my bank probably wouldn't like it much they probably would see it as a hacker attack or something. I am pretty convinced that Tor offers adequate protection from malicious exit nodes if only SSL websites are visited. I know some banks (maybe only in Europe I never heard of one in USA doing this but I don't really bank I am a college student and most of my stuff is paid for as long as I get good grades) give people cool little calculator type things, then they go to the bank website and it presents them with a string that they need to type into the calculator, then the calculator generates a new string and that is the session password, and a new string needs to be entered for every single action. That would protect a lot by itself but yeah I think SSL is enough.

    I use Tor for most internet browsing and find it goes fast enough if I don't need to download anything. I use seed boxes to get Torrents, plenty anonymous for me, although Xerobank looks like a sweet option for this (and possibly even a Tor replacement, I am 95% sold on xerobank but not quite 100% yet). I also use Tor for instant messages (port 443 of course) and E-mail (also port 443). I am not super worried of being tracked down or anything, I just like to know that it would be difficult. It is mental masturbation for me. I like to know that I could be a ghost on the internet if I desired, and nothing short of a major infrastructure change in law and technology is going to stop that. Pretty much unless we are 100% a police state I can be anonymous, and I think even though most places are getting much worse we are still far from that bad even in China they are allowed to for the most part move freely, and more than just government officials can use WiFi (so the scenario I talked of earlier would work unless they outlaw WiFi, or outlaw WiFi with weak or no encryption, or outlaw public WiFi hotspots, etc its a complex thing would take to long to explain all measures and countermeasures but essentially anonymity is favored in the fight between anonymity and a less than full out police state government)

    Wow I just talked about a lot and lost my train of thought lol. Anyways to the other question:

    "speaking of tor, I heard there are many honeyspots on tor since just anybody can setup a server. you don't know if they are keeping logs or not. I was going to say jurisdiction as well but, you're saying it doesn't matter to some people. then what about the issue of connection leaks? any leaks in your connection will reveal you."

    Tor could be all Honey pots for all I care. I use end to end encryption so they are only going to be sniffing cipher text. I suppose a malicious individual could set up hundreds of Tor nodes and eventually find my location, but they will just find one of my neighbors anyways with a spoofed mac logged so I don't really care ;-). I guess they could find my neighbor and bust out with the directional antennas, but if I worried of this threat I would not use a static geographic location but rather would switch up hot spots every session like I mentioned previously. I am not super worried about it because I don't think anyone would ever really try and find me, like I said, mental masturbation.

    What do you mean by connection leak?
     
  14. scrty001

    scrty001 Registered Member

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    dns leaks, javascript leaks etc.. yeah there are all those program you can use, no script etc..

    and about wireless air cards and being able to triangulate as you were saying... it's the exact same as wifi? if you're using a cell phone service with a wireless air card, can they track you with GPS? how are they going to be able to setup their antennas to triangulate if you keep moving?

    /tinfoil
     
  15. Z32

    Z32 Registered Member

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    Is this the general type of card you're referring to? http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/searchtools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=4341142&csid=_25

    If so, to quote n33m3rz,
    .

    Unless using Tor or a VPN, I'd assume it'd be easy to track you down via your IP (tied to cell) + corresponding cell # (SIM inserted into the aircard). This info would be obtainable from the provider. Then once that's been obtained, triangulate your location using cell towers since it's always connected*. One would assume this is only while the device is powered. It is basically a cell phone.

    *These aircards appear to be always connected, according to this site http://www.wirelessdevnet.com/channels/pda/features/aircard300.html
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2009
  16. n33m3rz

    n33m3rz Registered Member

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    Its the difference between a bunch of mini transmitters (a coffee shops wifi router) that cover lots of small areas, and huge transmitters (cell towers) that cover a very large area. Even if you keep moving they can do a solid trace on your signal plus use calculations to determine the direction you are traveling and the speed you are traveling, they could overlay this information on a map and if you are going fast enough they will know you are in a car or bus or something and will know the possible paths you are likely to take and narrow in on you better by sending people to where you are likely to go. If you use a bunch of different public WiFi hotspots, the area is just way less so it makes it harder to track you down because the WiFi router changes so much with each coffee shop or whatever it adds a degree of randomness where as your cell towers are likely to be the same ones in a wide area. Plus cell towers are already equipped with what is needed to triangulate (and can do it better, since your signal is going many miles instead of many yards, they can start the trace from much further away) and they could set up a sort of command center and feed coordinates to others tasked with locating you, with WiFi they would need to physically go to where you are connecting and use directional antennas to triangulate your broadcasting signal.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2009
  17. Z32

    Z32 Registered Member

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    Thanks for your insight, it's good food for thought :thumb: . My main interest in the above concerns traveling.

    I.e. if I go overseas, I want to be able to check my mail and pay bills without having to make the assumption that the net cafe wi-fi/other hotspot I'm connecting to isn't a MITM attack waiting to happen or is otherwise compromised. My home connection I'm not too worried about, aside from hackers/keyloggers.
     
  18. n33m3rz

    n33m3rz Registered Member

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    You could set up an encrypted tunnel from your laptop (where you are traveling) to your computer (at home, provided you keep it turned on) and go to your banking stuff from your home computer in a virtual desktop. Then if the public WiFi spot turns out to be malicious they wont be able to get anything. This is certainly a better option than Tor IMO for your threat model in this situation (you are looking more for security than anonymity, and Tor inherently has less security than anonymity versus the other option), but I still stand by my belief that Tor + SSL should be safe for banking but don't take my word on it I would hate for you to get in crap for doing it, just giving my opinion =).

    The best way to do this would be to have a virtual machine that you use for traveling. The host os would have virtual desktop software on it that lets you connect to it encrypted from a remote location, from which you can access (and turn on and off) the virtual machine. I would encrypt the virtual drive of the virtual machine and keep it off when not using it, so you don't risk a malicious person going into your house and seeing all your banking stuff since you will be forced to leave your computer on the entire time you are gone.

    You could also use a VPS to do essentially the same thing, but that would involve trusting the VPS provider with your information in a way, where as using your own computer it is in your house -).

    Xerobank is probably also better to check banking stuff than Tor, but yeah still I stand by Tor probably being safe enough for banking provided you use SSL at all times.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2009
  19. scrty001

    scrty001 Registered Member

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    well, even every WiFI spot has a limited number of ISP's in the wide area you're located in. if you're at a public Wifi, you're fixed to a specific IP you connected from besides TOR or VPN etc..

    if you use a wireless cards from what I've heard about some they have dynamic IP's.. so if you disconnect and reconnect every so often and continue to change your MAC address they should have to retrace you every time you reconnect wouldn't they?

    and about your example of being able to predict the direction you're travelling etc.. how can this be possible if there is no pattern in your movement? with the dynamic IP and mac changing, how would they know it's the same person? you can disconnect your card at any time and reconnect.. from any location.. how could they pin point you? it's not the same as travelling back and forth from the same 3-4 public wifi coffeeshops in your area. or even if you have 100 public-wifi coffeeshops in your area you've already made a pattern after a few times. they already know you're using public wifi's... so they already know where you next probable step is going to be.

    this is also including going through TOR/VPN in addition to the wireless card. If you were in a public wifi area wouldn't it be the same as you stated about a coffeeshop where they couldn't just go in and ask everybody to see their MAC address/device, etc..? do you think it would be more difficult to pin-point or guess 3 or 4 of the public wi-fi coffeeshops you could be at... or wait for you to make your connection from who-knows-where through a wireless air card and after that is established do a police chase if you're moving?

    most public wifi places such as library's/coffeeshops have cameras setup (depending on your area) since they're quite cheap these days and probably come with the lease. they can still match you up even as a possible china-communist-whistle blower with the time/place if they were able to trace your location through TOR/VPN... as you stated in one of the replies.. so even if they couldn't get to you since you were at another public wifi location the next time (keep in mind all public wifi locations are easily known to the public.. they don't necessarily have to wait for you to get there if they can see a pattern of you using public wifi locations so they can already have people setup at every public wifi location within the radius of all your traces/patterns).

    so you can take your choice of being at a public wifi which according to you should be used in short amounts of time. so if you're an innocent person in a corrupt country you can't use your laptop for as much time you normally need due to using a public wifi? you can only use it in short amounts of time and also risking being recognized by employees at these locations, after a while you can't visit these locations anymore.. at all..so what do you do next? move to another city?
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2009
  20. scrty001

    scrty001 Registered Member

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    so what if somebody was to use a service provider/wireless card with a dynamic IP and there was no cell needed, since the internet/data plans were offered without contract or any existing cell plan as well as providing this service based on "pay as you go". In addition to TOR/VPN..etc...

    this thread is starting to get interesting.. these topics get my brain waves going...
     
  21. scrty001

    scrty001 Registered Member

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    You're saying the WiFI router changes so much with each coffee shop?

    I don't understand that statement.

    Do they all have their own ISP setup? What is a "bunch"... ?

    Do they not use one of the few most common internet service providers in the area?

    You're saying it's harder to track you in a smaller area than a wider area?
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2009
  22. LockBox

    LockBox Registered Member

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    A wireless card for your PC is nothing more than a cell phone built into a card and optimized for data. When it's on, it can be pinged. Towers can be located and your travels tracked. This is a terrible idea for anonymity. Amazon's Kindle uses the same technology. Easily tracked. Whoever told you scrty that would be a good idea? Parked behind an IHOP in the parking lot, or picking up one of 25 signals in an apartment along the way (with use of a proxy, even smarter) is MUCH better, yes.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2009
  23. n33m3rz

    n33m3rz Registered Member

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    Yes but how can they tell what you are doing? As far as they can see you are just a person connecting to an IP. The ISP can't simply know you are the same person from WiFi spot to WiFi spot, each time you connect to a new Tor entry node. And since you spoof Mac address, the actual WiFi routers wont be alerted to you either. A good option would be to use bridging I think, where you use one of the Tor nodes not publicly listed. If you go to Tors website you can have it show you one at a time. This list is more secret than the public Tor nodes and less likely an ISP will instantly identify it as a Tor connection. Plus it would be a lot of work for an ISP to scan ALL traffic for Tor traffic just to try and have a chance at finding you. It is possible, but it would be hard, tedious and take time. Hopefully by the time they notice you are to the next WiFi hotspot anyways.


    I am sure there is some static account information or something. If not there would be no way for them to know you are paying for the service or not, and anyone could use it. With public WiFi spots, you pay for nothing and there is no real static information (new tor entry each time, new Mac each time)

    Well if you are on the road (which they can determine by measuring your speed of acceleration by measuring your location at X time and Y time) they can take your position at Y and over lay it on a map. They can see if it is a one way street, what direction you are headed, and try and cut you off so they slowly narrow the distance between them and you. Mac changing I am not sure if that is really important for this type of internet access, and as I said previously there simply must be some static information. We are assuming the adversary has compromised the service provider, remember. As far as the public WiFi goes you have a point but think of how complex it would be to have 24 / 7 surveillance of a hundred WiFi hotspots. That isn't even taking open house hold WiFi locations into account. In a major city if you drive around sniffing wireless networks for a few hours and finding open ones, you could use GPS yourself to pin point all the open ones you find and overlay their positions on a map of your area (Say from google maps). Then you just randomly select a new location to go to every X minutes or whatever. It might even be helpful to use a PRNG to select the location fro mthe set of sniffed locations on your map, and stick to what the PRNG picks for you, even if it is inconvenient. This guarantees a high level of randomness between WiFi access points and that would help against patterns being established. Although you do have a point, the anonymity of this system is limited by the amount of WiFi access points in your area.

    That is a good point. I would also point out that before they would be able to determine which of the coffee shops you are at they would need to trace down a Tor circuit. A side channel against this would be to do surveillance of multiple coffee shops or WiFi access points and over lay images of the people in the area during a connection multiple times. Eventually it would be narrowed down to one individual and they would be able to know what you look like and could move right in at you. This would be a serious risk in places with CCTV every two feet, assuming multiple (at least two) trace backs are done and CCTV footage is gathered. For example, if you are at Coffee shop A and make a connect to wherever and get caught on CCTV camera with fifty other people, and they trace the connection back to Coffee Shop A, even if you are gone they still have the footage. The next time you are at Coffee Shop B and the same thing happens, then you are in two CCTV footages and you are the only redundancy (only person in both). They could then assume you are whoever is in the CCTV footage and position people at dozens of WiFi access points waiting for you to show up. This attack depends on them being able to trace the Tor circuit back to the wireless access point, and also requires heavy usage of CCTV, both of these requirements could be met though. For this attack, the cellular method seems superior because there are more locations that are unlikely to be under monitor of CCTV but still allow access to the network. A way to defend against this attack for WiFi would be to make use of long range WiFi antennas. A powerful directional antenna with an amplifier can pick up signals from miles away (depending also on the strength of the main antenna also). This might allow for enough distance from the WiFi router to avoid being captured on CCTV in the area, at the least it would greatly increase complexity but despite greater distance you would still maintain the benefits of WiFi versus cellular (one mile triangle versus a hundred mile triangle or however far apart cellular towers are).

    A good option might be to be in the back of a car with tinted windows so a CCTV camera wouldn't notice if you had a large directional WiFi antenna pointed out the window.

    This depends a lot on the size of the area. A big city might have literally hundreds of public or unsecured WiFi broadcasters. As I mentioned previously there would still be a possible attack if there is sweeping CCTV in the area however. Also keep in mind that unless they are having everyone at the place show them their laptops, they will still need to trace back to the place over Tor before they could move in on you, unless they already determined who you are by photographic over lays as I also previously discussed.

    Or park down the street in a car with tinted windows and point a long range antenna in the direction of the building. Normally cars are bad as they are identifiers, but I would say that if you are only using a given WiFi access point for thirty minutes, park a half mile or a mile away with a powerful antenna, you will be pretty safe. They would need to rush there and trace the signal back to your car, or they would need CCTV footage of a half mile or mile radius to do photographic overlays to pin point it down to you car.



    Wow man this really has turned into a very interesting thread indeed. Very interesting topic really. It seems there truly is no 'perfect' anonymity online, but I think someone taking these steps is probably more than safe in anything but a theoretical (but probably possible) situation. I don't think anyone outside of people that really NEED to be traced down would have this much trouble go into tracing them down, and to be quite frank I am not so sure it is a bad thing that someone can apparently be traced down no matter what, especially knowing that unless someone is doing something truly bad almost no one would go to the trouble required to trace them. Seems like a good level to me.
     
  24. n33m3rz

    n33m3rz Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2009
    Posts:
    114
    Well each WiFi access point is a new location, and a new triangle / radius forms. Cellular towers cover massive areas, and have massive triangles. I do believe it is better for anonymity to have multiple small triangles that rotate frequently than a single large triangle / radius that is constantly used, especially if the "geographic location" of the small triangles / radius's changes frequently and randomly.



    Doesn't matter, the ISP will see a new entry node every time and the WiFi router will see a new Mac address every time. This will make it hard to correlate your connections between sessions, especially using Bridged connections with Tor to try to hide the fact you are using Tor at all. It will be next to impossible for the ISP to correlate multiple sessions to a single entity, especially in a small time frame.

    Doesn't matter. The multiple rapidly rotating WiFi routers matter because they each form a new triangle / radius (compared to Cellular which covers a massive area, but the distance is not much of an advantage against this threat model, and the fact that it stays static is detrimental). They could all use the same ISP and this benefit stands. The purpose of multiple small triangle/radius is to help prevent signal triangulation, spoofed mac address it to help prevent router logs being correlated, tor (especially bridged) is to prevent ISP from correlating sessions to a single entity (which they could do if you used a static proxy, they would simply look for a connection to that proxy and assume it is you.)

    I am saying that there are either multiple small triangles/radius's or there is a big huge one. By randomly switching between small ones I believe it offers more anonymity than using a very large one that hardly ever switches. Long distance is irrelevant against triangulation (but useful against CCTV monitoring), what matters is how rapidly the radius switches (which it does with each new wifi router utilized). Using one cellular tower (which you probably will since they cover hundreds of miles I believe if not more) would be near equivalent to using one WiFi hotspot.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2009
  25. scrty001

    scrty001 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2008
    Posts:
    82
    alright I see what you're saying about wide area and small area triangles... I see your point. so, we were talking about if your service provider has been compromised. if your service provider hasn't been compromised and you're not doing anything wrong but, don't like the idea of having tracks of your online activity... if somehow you were able to get a wireless card without any static info (or fake static info) it would be more reliable than say using your home connection, is that correct? you could just throw away the wireless card whenever you wanted, whereas if it's your home connection, it's not as easy. keep in mind we're talking about not doing anything wrong. just comparing the two in regards to the usual tracks that are kept by ISP's..etc.. (I know about VPN/TOR which can encrypt your connection but... I would just like to hear your thoughts according to what I stated).
     
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