Apr 1, 2013

How to Blog Anonymously

Just a few minutes ago, a friend of mine asked me if it would be safe to blog on a sensitive topic. Believe me, it's not worth the chances. Blogging can be very dangerous (not that I care, but I still make sure not to hurt sentiments on my blog...) So, I decided to help him out with something on how to blog anonymously.

Before I proceed, let me remind you that everything can be hacked. I take no responsibility on what you decide to do after reading this, or what happens if you do get caught. These must just be treated as guidelines. After all, you must remain careful, the world out there is not so safe.

1. Get a secure browser. That means a NO for Internet Explorer, which is famous for its security leaks, with Microsoft desperately releasing updates to make it safe. I would prefer Mozilla Firefox for two reasons- it is open source, which means the best minds in the world are working to make it better, and it is trusted by millions.

2. Download TOR. TOR(The Onion Router) is an  implementation of second-generation onion routing, a system enabling its users to communicate anonymously on the Internet. Essentially, it hides your IP address, routing your requests through layers of proxy servers (hence the Onion analogy) which act as peels. If the TOR website is blocked in your country, you can get the bundle by sending a mail to the TOR bot. If you want it for Windows, type "windows-budle" in the body of the email and send it to gettor@torproject.org. You will be mailed the bundle. Alternately, you can send "help" to get a list of all the available commands, or visit the link here. Also there are a few things you must make sure for TOR to work properly which are listed here. The TOR bundle can be transferred to a USB drive and used on public computers.

3. On starting TOR, a new Firefox portable browser will start. USE ONLY THAT BROWSER, as it is configured to use TOR. Do not try to configure your own browser to use TOR, there might be plugins which send the data in a non-secure manner.

4. Open an email and then a blog account. I would want to open a Gmail account, but sites like Hushmail provide great service as well. Never open that email account unless you are using TOR. In the blog, I prefer Wordpress (although my primary blog is in Blogger). Wordpress runs on the Open Source CMS by the same name, and is secure.

Also, don't add fancy gadgets to your blog. You never know how they send information. You can end up getting caught because of such stuff. Be careful.

Caution: DO NOT use Google Analytics. It can lead to a reverse ID lookup. More on the issue here.

5. Write your posts offline. This is important so that you never lose data. Also, if you are a whistle-blower, or an activist, you would not want to remain at the same place for a long time writing a blog.

6. Edit the timestamp on your posts to a little bit in the future.  That is to ensure you are not caught.Let's say you finish your post at 5.05 PM, publish it at 6 PM. Let's say someone checks the log of your internet connection. They would find you are connected to the TOR servers at 5.05 PM, but not at 6 PM when the post was apparently published. Mix it up to times ranging from a few minutes to a few hours in the future, so that you are not caught.

7. Encourage your friends to use TOR. This helps in creating "background traffic". It would be difficult to pinpoint your computer, if many people in the network are using TOR.

8. Clear Browser History. You can be tracked with the help of cookies. So, clear everything!

9. Getting the hits. So, you have done that properly. How do you promote it? There are ping servers that would help you. Google for any ping server and use it for anonymous promotion.

10. Last, but certainly NOT the least- Use Common Sense. All these are of no use if you are stupid. Make sure no one is peeping when you post the stuff. Or never mention it in your conversations. Never post anything related to it in your Facebook/Twitter accounts, or anything else that can be linked back to you. Basically, you need to develop a dual personality(Okay, I am exaggerating on that).

Liked this post? Have any suggestions? Just let me know. Feel free to comment below!

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