anonymity pages


Fravia's Nofrill
Web design

End July 1998
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You'll find on this page only obsolete information, yet even obsolete information may at times be useful, so I haven't destroyed it.

A simple rule to follow in life is that you NEVER give out personal information to strangers. But many people forget this rule when they cruise the web. People think that the person they encounter online is somewhere far away and that they will never meet so how can it be dangerous to just pass out those personal details? In some online services like America Online for example, users can fill in a "Personal Profile" where they are invited to give their name, age, marital status and where they come from. Many users fill this in honestly and in good faith, forgetting that they have now made their personal details available to 400 millions of human beings, all of whom are strangers :-(

Let's add that the whole society moves (very quickly) towards a "bee-world", where everybody will know everything you do. Dear internaut, unfortunately all the data you are disseminating around are being collected and used to get your exact profile... this is already happening everywhere on the planet... Cyberocracy, as some call it, is getting nearer... they trace us every time we use credit cards, every time you buy in a supermarket with the so called "advantage" cards (why do you think they give them out and ask you to use them, duh?), every time we make a search or simply visit places on the web or email a usenet group

It is probably possible to know exactly (not that I care particularly) how much toilet paper YOU consume in a week, how much beer will be buyed next month from all the people living in your street... how many searches you have made on AltaVista for alt.lick.my.shoe postings... nothing is private any more... that is, unless you defend yourself.

In cyberspace "verbal" is all you have. It follows therefore that you can only know someone about 30% if you know them only on live chat or through email. The other 70% of your understanding cannot develop until you can both hear the other person's voice and see them in real life. Remember also that when your friend sends you a photo of him, you have no way of verifying that the photo is indeed him... all the photos of mine that are on my other "avatar" pages (see the counter measures page) are false, and some are QUITE different from me

There is no code of honor protecting people's privacy on the Internet. Each user should therefore take appropriate steps to protect privacy online. Consider the following tips to protect your privacy online before a problem develops.

1) Consider a gender-neutral email address
(that's your username, handle AND common identity on the web)

2) Choose a good account password and change it regularly
The best passwords don't spell anything and don't follow a logical pattern. If your chosen username, for example is "wizard" then you are making it easy for someone to break into your account if you choose "spell", "wand", "cat", or even "abracadabra" as your access password. Make your password at least 7 letters long, throw numbers inside
And never tell ANYone else what it is

3) Edit your online profile
Get familiar with "Finger" which is a way of looking up your username and domain and obtaining information about you from what is called your Plan file. Try out your own email address with Finger and see what comes up. If you don't like what you see - change it! You may need to edit your "Plan" file to remove personal information. Remember - anything you can find out about yourself, anybody else can find out about you. Keep personal information online to an absolute minimum

You can try a finger search on yourself by going to one of the following sites on the WWW:

4) Review your email signature and email headers
What does your email signature say about you? Your email sig. is added to every piece of email you send. Check yours (send yourself some email and then look at the headers at the top and the signature at the bottom), and make sure it does not give away your home telephone number or any other personal details. If your email sig. reads "Jane Doe - Boston's finest!" then a cyberstalker can now look in the Boston telephone directories and see how many Jane Does are listed. And what if there are only two listed? Check also how your email headers read. Part of your headers you can configure yourself - make sure that you do not reveal too much about yourself, unless you do not care, like me :-D

5) Consider using an anonymous remailer (or email alias service) to post messages to the Usenet
You can also draw unwelcome attention to yourself if you post messages to newsgroups on the Usenet - by posting such material you are also posting your email address. Consider using an anonymous remailer so that you can post anonymously to the Usenet, particularly if you are getting into a heated debate about a controversial subject. The other reason for using an anonymous remailer when posting to the Usenet is that although posts are deleted from the News server after a short period of time, posts are archived, which means anyone at a later date can read all the posts you ever made, by using a Usenet search engine, e.g. Deja News at
To read about anon remailers visit:
6) Consider using an anonymous web browser
Consider browsing the WWW by going through an anonymous Web browsing service. This will make it impossible for your web-surfing to be logged by Websites (which IS currently done), so no one will be able to pick up any information on you. You can find this service, together with an FAQ at:
7) Consider using encryption to authenticate your email messages
By using an encryption program like PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) you can verify your email so that you cannot be impersonated. PGP signing your email does not change the whole thing into code but adds a code at the bottom that indicates the email has been scanned and verified as yours. If someone forges your email or tampers with it, then when your recipient checks the PGP sig with what's known as your "Public Key" it will show that the email is no longer genuinely yours.
PGP is a difficult program to learn but is very valuable for authentication of email. You can read about it at:
8) Discuss your safety and privacy requirements with your Internet Service Provider and enlist their help and advice
Don't be afraid to discuss these issues with your Internet Provider. You are paying them good money to use their service, and you have a right to assistance. Find out how seriously they take personal safety online. If you are not satisfied, consider moving. Shop around - there are some very responsible companies out there. You might also like to establish if your ISP keeps an online directory of all clients on their FTP site. If they do and your name is up there, ask them to remove it for safety reasons. If they refuse, perhaps you should choose another ISP...

9) Learn your technology
Everyone was a beginner once, but it is up to you if you choose to remain one. Work out what you need to know and then find out where to learn it. This may take the form of joining classes, reading books, reading internet FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) and talking to experts in #help channels on IRC. Remember knowledge is power and ignorance is weakness
In IRC make sure you know how to set up flood protection, and if you don't wish to receive ctcp commands, toggle them off. Make sure also that your DCC is not on "auto get". If DCC is set to auto receive files then you can be sent files while logged in without your consent. Turn on your timestamping option also, so all logs have the times automatically recorded
As soon as you are logged onto IRC, turn your logger/text capture ON - This is important so that you keep a record of each IRC session. If there are no problems then you can always trash the log later, but if you have a problem you may wish to keep the evidence

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