Category: security

Internet Monitoring – UK Snooping Plans

The UK Government have decided to take some lessons from the likes of China, Iran and Syria and started implementing increased internet surveillance. It often seems to happen when Governments are having a tough time they roll out the ‘tough on terrorism’ plans and start telling us how it will catch criminals and keep us safe.   After all it sounds good and is easy to implement – even though for the most part it’s completely pointless.

Under these plans, Police, the Government and intelligence agencies will be able to access data on all phone calls, emails, internet useage. They will be able to read through your web mail, Facebook messages, Linkedin posts, forums and gaming boards – just about anything you do electronically will be accessible to these people.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner says –

Put simply, the police need access to this information to keep up with the criminals who bring so much harm to victims and our society.

Sigh……

What they will have is data and information on people who are doing nothing wrong. The criminals will be using SSH encryption, VPNs, secure proxies or they will simply just use other peoples Wifi connections. The only criminals you’ll catch by this incredibly intrusive internet snooping is thick ones who you should have caught anyway.


For instance I’m quite a careful driver however I live in an area where the Police force seems to have one single aim in life to catch people who exceed speed limits by three miles an hour. As such I have quite a few penalty points on my license which I’m not altogether happy with.

However I know several speed obsessed, thrill seekers who drive like they are on the Le Mons racetrack who have absolutely no points at all. Do you know why – it’s because they all have Warning systems and Radar detectors things in their cars. As such the only speeders that get caught are dozy ones like me who occasionally drift over the limit by a tiny amount.

This is the reality – and in this case too there are lots of easy ways to avoid this surveillance.

All this rubbish about a ‘Total War on Crime’ is just an excuse to further erode our privacy and civil liberties.  For example if I use Identity Cloaker then nobody will be able to see anything I do online, my data is encrypted and all the logs will just contain my fake IP address from the Identity Cloaker proxy server that I use. The logs on those are deleted almost instantly so that makes me just about invisible online.

So what’s to stop a terrorist using any one of these security systems ?

Nothing which is why the British Government will be left spying on ordinary people. That’s going to win the war on crime isn’t it?  Of course if you snoop on enough people for long enough I’m sure you’ll catch some people doing something illegal. But is it worth the cost, are we really expected to believe that this data won’t be routinely accessed to build profiles of individuals.

At the moment, the police can access this information anyway, however they need a warrant from a judge. Of course a judge isn’t going to issue these on the basis of ad hoc requests and idle snooping – which is exactly the way it should be.

We all know these powers will be abused, even if the police and intelligence services only exercise these rights in extreme cases (yeah right) – you can be certain that databases will be hacked, logs left on trains or USB sticks dropped in taxis.  All the time the criminals will be not remotely be worried as they will be the only ones not being monitored.

Bye, Bye Scroogle – Alternative? We’ll Miss You!

Yep  Scroogle has gone alas,  it had a purpose, it was useful and the owner had an attitude – but at time of writing sadly, there’s no Scroogle alternative.   To be honest it doesn’t come as a big surprise, for the last few weeks it’s been pretty much unusable for a variety of reasons.

A few days ago the owner Daniel Brandt announced  –

“Scroogle.org is gone forever,”

You might think what a drama queen, or perhaps so f**kin what – but it’s kind of a sad day for all of us with a brain.

But first perhaps we should say what Scroogle actually was – and that is simply a proxy for the Google search engine.  Instead of all your queries being logged, recorded and monitored in order to build up some sort of creepy online profile of you – Scroogle acted as a man in the middle. It was a like a trusted friend who wouldn’t make judgement, wouldn’t log the request for future gains and certainly wouldn’t sell your profile to Tesco to add to their Clubcard profiles (note to US readers – this makes no sense to you)

So if you wanted to search for ‘pornographic pictures of sexy ladies dressed up as members of the Stasi’ , then your East German security fetishes would be strictly private, meaning Google wouldn’t have made a little addition to your online search profile.

Which meant you had a little more privacy, your every internet searching whim was not added to a online profile or buyer’s list held by some bunch of corporate tossers. So for this to Daniel – I say thanks and am very sorry to see him go. Now the reasons for the end of Scroogle where apparently due to two main reasons,

  • Google throttling Requests
  • Many DDOS attacks on the site.

Now both are equally feasible and apparently both were happening.  Scroogle has been around for nearly ten years which is a long time in Internet years and Google could have closed it down at any point.   They have always limited the number of search requests from a single IP address  – so Scroogle would have tripped this many times with only about 6 servers and a limited number of IP addresses.   So did the Google guys finally have enough and tighten the screw?   I’m not sure, it’s not great publicity for them if they did and the impact on their profits were certainly negligible – but this requires further research !

The other problem which hastened the demise much more quickly was the increasing number of DDOS attacks.  These are just blunt attacks designed to bring servers to their knees,  easily orchestrated either with minimal technical knowledge or a few bucks to spend.  Daniel Brandt apparently was very outspoken and frequently upset people so he’d probably made a lot of enemies.  It’s a sad blow though, again showing that cyber bullies exist on all sides of the divide – the fact is you can use a DDOS attack on any web server in existence.  It’s the lead pipe of the cyber world, if you disagree with someone online you can just pay a few bucks to take out their web site/blog etc.

I don’t know who Daniel upset or why – but the loss of Scroogle is surely an own goal!!  Will it ever be reported on mainstream media?  Will we see reports on NBC, Fox or the BBC – probably not.I was going to rant further on this issue and put in a selection of secure search engines that still exist but I’ve suddenly discovered a rather full bottle of 10 year old Laphroaig whisky – if you’ve tasted it you know why I can’t concentrate now.   Adieu……………

 

PS

Will post up the list of secure search engines in my next post.

The Need For a Ninja Proxy

Protecting yourself online has never been so important.  The need to use common sense and adequate security and privacy tools is vital. If you’ve come here looking to become an online proxy ninja, surfing securely through the electronic ether well perhaps I can point you in the right direction.ninja proxy But First the Danger finding any sort of anonymity is difficult online, you’re tracked and logged through your ISP, company firewalls, every web sites you visit and a thousand other devices in between. Your IP address can be tracked back to the very PC you’re sitting at and the logs stored and backed up in your ISP contain virtually everything you’ve done online for the last two years. When I say everything, I’m not kidding – and yes it does include the fact that you watched the Kylie Minogue Agent Provocateur advert 6 times in a row last Friday when you came home from the bar.

Now the inconvenience Sometimes it’s not actually the paranoia (oh and yes they are watching you), but the inconvenience that drives people to hopeless proxy sites in search of a Ninja proxy to surf through.  This is down to the increasing pervasiveness of a system called geotargeting – I’ll add a better description of this but it’s basically the way that websites restrict what you can watch depending on your location. You’ve probably seen it in action –

  • Want to watch BBC Iplayer but are not in UK – Sorry blocked by IP address
  • Catch up on some shows on Hulu while on holiday in France – Nope blocked by IP address
  • View the news on ABC whilst in Canada – Nope blocked by IP address again.

The real list is much, much longer – anything from accessing YouTube to just about any big media site.  More so if you’re unlucky to live in a country where it’s considered bad for you to access Facebook  – it’s likely you’re going to get blocked for not having the right IP address. So people are fed up with being blocked, monitored, logged and basically having their online experience controlled and analysed.  So they look online and find details of unblock sites and read blog posts looking for a free proxy server. They then find they don’t work and indeed haven’t for many years at least for most applications.

There’s no point looking on a free proxy list you simply won’t find anything that works anymore and you certainly won’t find a proper ninja proxy which unlocks the internet and hides your location.   What they find is loads of web pages called Ninja something or other and a basic install of a web proxy called Glype.  They will promise you all sorts of super, secret ninja surfing via their little browsing frame – but I’m afraid it’s not true.

Computer Admin Watching Someone Search Through a Ninja Proxy Site

The Truth About Ninja Proxies Unfortunately that’s what the majority end up doing, searching in Google and finding some Ninja web site or something like that.  In the middle of the page their will be a little box inviting you to search via their site – something like this

Not Really Ninja At All! In fact little more than a default Glype installation with a proxy browser front end.

Is it secure ? In a word – No. Well if you trust a complete stranger who has set up a free server, installed Glype and covered it in ads – to look after your data then of course it’s fine. It doesn’t bypass most firewalls, it certainly doesn’t give you anonymity – it does add many more risks to your browsing. For those of us who prefer reality it’s a complete waste of time, all you are doing is funneling your data through another unknown, insecure point.  In some circumstance the setup may obscure your IP address slightly but that’s about it – you also be leaving yet another log of your activities on this guys server. Don’t think you’ll be able to stream previously blocked video either like BBC Iplayer or Hulu because you can’t watch these through a little Iframe window and besides the servers are normally basic ones that would struggle to stream video to one person not the thousands who’ll probably be trying.

The real proxy ninja experience will obscure your IP address completely through an advanced network of high speed, highly secure servers across the planet.   It will be high speed and high performance allowing media streaming direct to your PC from wherever you are – so watch the BBC Iplayer or Hulu or any site you care to try.

It can also be set to automatically switch your browsing data across to a different server across the globe every few minutes. But finally it will also encrypt your data meaning that you really can be anonymous, your ISP logs included.  In fact  the only readable logs of your online existence are briefly on the secure servers and are deleted immediately.

To access a global network of secure proxies and VPNs, which can bypass internet blocks and keep you anonymous – just try ..