At the conclusion of the course the student will be able to:
- Identify the amount of entropy required to identify an individual online.
- Identify the three major Psychographic segments targeted by advertisers.
- Identify one type of marketing that uses tracking.
- Understand what a proxy is.
- Understand what a VPN is.
- Understand what Tor does.
Privacy is defined as the condition of being free from observation or disturbance. The right to privacy is not guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. Although the right to privacy is implicitly granted in the First Amendment, Third, Fourth, and Fifth. Your right to privacy has been a justification for many civil liberties cases. In addition, most of the States recognize four torts based on your right to privacy. This includes intrusion upon private affairs, public disclosure of private facts, false revelations or publicity about a person, and assuming the name or likeness of a person to deceive or for gain.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation provides a mathematical formula that allows an individual to measure how likely you are to be able to use information to reveal their unique identity. The quantity of likelihood is called entropy and it is measured in bits. There are approximately 8 billion people on the planet Earth, therefore we can deduce that we require approximately 33 bits of entropy to successfully identify a person in the noise.
2^33 = 8589934592
If you know a persons ZIP code and their birthday, that may still not be enough to positively identify a person. If they live in a sufficiently large city, there could be plenty of men and women who share those numbers. Add gender and you narrow the pool. If you begin to add in shopping habits and interests, we quickly begin to narrow down the candidates.
Members of the law enforcement community are often forced to take incomplete descriptions of peoples and link that information back to a suspect. You may have seen informational releases or pleas to the public asking for help in identifying a person. We often release what information we have in the hopes that someone else can fill in the blanks. This same behavior is practiced by advertisers and data brokers who trade in anonymous data.
The EFF Browser Fingerprint provides many interesting tools that can be used to test your browser in order to see how easy it is to identify. The panopticlick project is designed to demonstrate how likely your browser can be finger printed and identified among all the other browsers on the internet.
Docker can be used to containerize your browser and provide a level of anonymity if properly configured. Running your code inside of Docker would also require that other users do so as well. Browser tracking would easily reveal the use of Docker and you would harm your ability to be anonymous if you are the only one using these tools. Therefore, it is important that more people use these tools to reduce the likelihood that it will be This would require a fundamental change in how the public noticed.
- Kernel namespacing.
- Docker daemon security.
- Hardened kernel / container security.
Namespaces provide the isolation between the processes in the container and the processes in other containers or the host itself. The containers have their own network stack and don’t get privileged access to the sockets or interfaces of any other container. You can assume the containers are on bridge interfaces and should be treated like physical machines that have a common ethernet switch.
A docker container should not be able to exhaust memory, CPU, disk I/O, or bring down the host system. This helps defend against some denial of service attacks. If you are on a VPS, this is invaluable behavior because it prevents issues for the other tenants when an application begins to act up.
The daemon itself does require root access and any user permitted to use Docker
or control the daemon should be well vetted. You can share folders with the
daemon and if you share the
/ directory of your host, you can alter the host
without any restriction. Do not share your root file system.
You should also understand that if you are running Docker to manage services, you should move as many services into Docker as you can. This tool is more effective when you leverage it for the majority of your needs.
Advertising And Surveillance Capitalism
Google Remarketing is one form of advertising that requires as much information about their audience as possible. Google and other companies have a vested interest in knowing “you”. You may have surfed over to a website about dogs and later received targeted ads about dogs in your browser only moments later. This is an example of Google Remarketing.
Three major Psychographic segments in advertising are Personality, Lifestyle, and Interests. The marketing of your data is invaluable because it allows an advertiser to know what you like, how you live, and what you are most likely going to need to spend money on next. The majority of traffic that advertisers are dealing with is generated by bots or other shady means. There is a belief that remarketing provides a more “real” and relevant picture of a human being and can contribute more to the bottom line of the company in question.
Are you a good citizen? Do you support the appropriate political party, practice good life habits, and refrain from behavior that could be indicative of “wrong” thought? The Chinese government is working to implement a program of social credit which will be controlled by the companies contracted with after the initial testing is completed. The social media use, medical history, and shopping habits will each contribute to the persons scores. Buy diapers? Then you are probably a responsible parent and your score goes up. Have a person in your home who is playing video games for more than an hour per day? They are considered “idle” and the irresponsibility score of the house hold goes up, lowering the house hold score. It pays not to be “idle”.
Social credit is being used to measure whether people are compatible on dating sites, whether they are allowed specific privileges, and even if they are allowed to rent a place to stay. The concept has been transformed into a game. Mobile phone applications provide games designed to encourage players to share their scores in order to guess which friend has the best score. There will also be a special list for ‘VIP’ users. If you plan to be a teacher, journalist, medical doctor, or tour guide, you will be forced to have a much higher score than a person of less importance or risk loss of employment.
This social credit will be used to keep track of taxes, traffic tickets, criminal records, academic degrees and club membership, party membership, and even if females have been instructed to take birth control. The entire life of the Chinese citizen will soon be tracked and graded for acceptability and this data will be used for all manner of decisions.
Personal Privacy And Safety
A Google employee stalked underage girls as reported by Gawker. A second individual also behaved in a similar manner and was released. No information on this persons alleged violations of company policy was revealed other than the fact that they broke strict internal privacy policies.
Your location can be tracked and the position of your phone can be guessed with a 24-hour leeway.
You can also produce digital noise as a form of protest against the individuals who are collecting your data.
Virtual Private Networks
OpenVPN is the gold standard for secure private networks.
A VPN allows the user to encapsulate their traffic, create a virtual network, and then pass that information on to the destination while theoretically limiting the amount of data leaked to any one monitoring the connection between the server and the client.
Free and lifetime membership VPN accounts should be avoided due to their use of monitoring to subsidize the cost of the VPN itself. A monthly fee between $5.00 or up-to $10.00 per month is a reasonable price to pay for a secure connection for basic privacy purposes.
You should assume that logging is made on any system that you are not the sole controller of in terms of both the software as well as the hardware side. No paid service should be considered absolutely secure.
The Tor Project provides several tools that can be used to provide a level of anonymous surfing to the user. The internal Tor network is considered relatively secure but there are also links to the outside world known as exit nodes.
You must disable four items in the browser to have reasonable privacy.
- All plugins
This Is Not Perfect
Law Enforcement tracked down a bomb threat after realizing the individual in question had used Tor.
A Proxy server can be used to transport the traffic of a single application, offers no additional encryption beyond that offered by the protocol used, and are only good for mundane tasks. You should also refrain from using free proxies as they can be used to spy on the user with extreme ease. A user connecting over SSL could potentially find their traffic unmasked by software like “Squid” in conjunction with SSL bump. TLS stops Squid from being able to bump as designed. This limitation may not exist for other proxies.
Docker Tor Browser
sudo docker run -i -t --rm -e DISPLAY=$DISPLAY \ -v /tmp/.X11-unix:/tmp/.X11-unix:ro paulczar/torbrowser
Docker Tor Proxies
docker run -d -p 8118:8118 -p 9050:9050 rdsubhas/tor-privoxy-alpine
curl --proxy http://localhost:8118 ifconfig.co
- 33 Bits of Entropy are required to successfully identify a person.
- Three major Psychographic segments in advertising are Personality, Lifestyle, and Interests.
- Google Remarketing is a tracking advertiser.
- A proxy is used for displaying a different IP or impersonating a country. It has low security.
- A VPN is a higher security tool that provides a separate IP as well as adds encryption.
- Tor is a protocol used for the explicit purpose of providing anonymity.
The web is not designed to make a user anonymous. We have integrated many web 2.0 tools into our day to day life and it has greatly reduced the ability of the average user to be anonymous. Individuals interested in regaining their anonymity online will require more than a change of browser. The fundamental behaviors that we take for granted when surfing and interacting with others online must all be reconsidered and managed carefully.
- Move services and applications as appropriate to Docker.
- Consider mail-in-a-box to help replace Google Applications.
- Donate money or time and run a tor relay node or exit node depending on your knowledge and skill.