Feeds

Anonymous Remailers Survive Politech Attack

Privacy, free speech networks not cowed

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The anonymous remailer network isn't closing, despite an alarmist and inaccurate story by Wired's Declan McCullagh, and postings to his own widely-read Politech mailing list.

Len Sassaman, a security expert and privacy advocate who runs the Randseed remailer, is cited by McCullagh as having "pulled the plug" on his system in the wake of the World Trade Center bombings, and the report hinted that others had too.

But Sassaman's system didn't go off-line and McCullagh, it turns out, hadn't been in touch to check. An announcement rapidly followed explaining that Randseed had been switched into middleman mode, which simply prevents it from being the last machine in the remailer chain.

And real-time statistics at press time showed thirty six Type II 'Mixmaster' remailers in operation, more than are usually running. Many more Type I remailers were also active.

Sassaman told us that the precaution was to preempt concern about hate mail or threats being made using the system. His remailer processes around three thousand messages a day, and out of a million messages over the past year, only two have drawn the attention of the authorities.

However, simply because one machine goes into middle man mode doesn't weaken the remailer system: the chain only needs a single system operating in both entrance and exit modes to be effective, and given a geographical dispersal of remailers, it's unlikely to be compromised by a crackdown in the wake of the New York and Washington atrocities.

"These terrorists probably don't use anonymous remailers," explains Sassaman. "They don't know if the machine they're using could be honeypot. But disturbed individuals could capitalise on the terror of the attack by sending in false information or additional bogus threats."

"But equally," he adds, "the mailer network could aid the investigation, providing a channel for people with legitimate information who fear for their lives, and don't trust the protection that the United States could offer them."

Anonymous remailers networks are effective not (as asserted in another McClunker) because the operators don't keep logs, but because no operator on the chain is aware of both the sender or the contents of the message.

"Stay operational," advised remailer operator Michael Shinn in a follow-up post to the Remop list:-

"If we give up all that is American to secure some safety, and freedom of speech is one of the many things that is truly American, then the terrorists will win. And thats what the terrorists WANT: for America to be destroyed. Shutting down freedom of speech would be to do the terrorists job *for them*. I will not surrender to terror. I will not carry out the will of these cowards. They will have to do it themselves: I'm keeping my remailer up."

That's the stuff.®

Website security in corporate America

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.