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Author Topic: VPN's will not protect you  (Read 8141 times)
Seth King
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« on: October 02, 2013, 09:01:33 PM »

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24371894

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As would be expected, Dread Pirate Roberts was using a VPN - virtual private network - to generate a "false" IP address, designed to cover his tracks.

However, the provider of the VPN was subpoenaed by the FBI.
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Allesquille
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« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2013, 09:26:32 PM »

Nothing is foolproof, of course, but the VPN was one weak point among many in Ulbricht's operation. Not to mention that information in the articles suggests that he was using a VPN that keeps logs. Not all do. Again, nothing is foolproof: even if they don't keep logs, the government could conceivably would force them to make an exception.

In other words, using a VPN (especially one that doesn't keep logs) is better than using nothing. But it's not bulletproof.
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« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2013, 10:53:14 PM »

As someone who's into amateur radio, I've heard of guys who live in rural areas with large radio towers on their property who use them for their hobby and to pick up free WiFi over 20 miles away.  Imagine having a VPN in addition to doing that. 
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« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2013, 11:15:45 PM »

I looked into snagging free wifi from my local library. It's not very far away at all, but there are hills and trees obstructing the view, so it'd be impossible.

You're right, there were many mistakes he made. I'm not entirely convinced that the feds didn't reverse construct information based on what they already knew from Tor, etc. But if he did hang out at a internet cafe, that's also a strike. I'm saying that because internet cafes use Windows, which is nonfree software, which is totally insecure, IMO.
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« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2013, 11:34:41 PM »

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I've heard of guys who live in rural areas with large radio towers on their property who use them for their hobby and to pick up free WiFi over 20 miles away.

I'm a little confused. The wavelength at which an antenna operates is roughly equal to the length of the antenna. WiFi operates around 2 GHz (wavelengths less than a meter), hence the small antennas on a home wireless router. As another example, the cellular network antennas you see on towers all over the place are around a meter in size, commensurate with the wavelengths around 1 GHz they use. Cell phones use some sophisticated antenna designs to improve their performance despite being several times smaller than the cell wavelengths.

I don't know much about amateur radio, but I'd guess that these guys have large towers in order to support long antennas that operate at shortwave radio frequencies with wavelengths on the order of tens of meters. Those antennas won't work at WiFi frequencies. They could however be using them to get a line of sight for small GHz antennas with good collectors. In many places, anyone with a house on a hill could do the same.

You're right that this type of standoff communication would be a nice addition to the privacy toolkit. I just wanted to nerd out for sec.  Cheesy
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« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2013, 12:00:31 AM »

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I've heard of guys who live in rural areas with large radio towers on their property who use them for their hobby and to pick up free WiFi over 20 miles away.

I'm a little confused. The wavelength at which an antenna operates is roughly equal to the length of the antenna. WiFi operates around 2 GHz (wavelengths less than a meter), hence the small antennas on a home wireless router. As another example, the cellular network antennas you see on towers all over the place are around a meter in size, commensurate with the wavelengths around 1 GHz they use. Cell phones use some sophisticated antenna designs to improve their performance despite being several times smaller than the cell wavelengths.

I don't know much about amateur radio, but I'd guess that these guys have large towers in order to support long antennas that operate at shortwave radio frequencies with wavelengths on the order of tens of meters. Those antennas won't work at WiFi frequencies. They could however be using them to get a line of sight for small GHz antennas with good collectors. In many places, anyone with a house on a hill could do the same.

You're right that this type of standoff communication would be a nice addition to the privacy toolkit. I just wanted to nerd out for sec.  Cheesy

Amateur radio towers are not exclusively for HF antennas.  There is a lot of amateur radio activity from 144 to 148 MHz, and there are other amateur radio bands up to 1.2 GHz.  It is advantageous to mount antennas for these bands on towers as well.

By the way, 1 GHz corresponds to a wavelength of about 33 cm.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2013, 12:02:31 AM by state hater » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2013, 12:02:05 AM »

You wouldn't use those particular antennae, but you could put a properly designed wii-fi antenna on the tower up where it can get line of sight to the router.  Then you just need a strong enough transmitting signal to get to the router, and a sensitive enough receiver to get the response.
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« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2013, 12:05:40 AM »

You wouldn't use those particular antennae, but you could put a properly designed wii-fi antenna on the tower up where it can get line of sight to the router.  Then you just need a strong enough transmitting signal to get to the router, and a sensitive enough receiver to get the response.

Since height is might, you would not need as much power as you might think.  A few dB of amplification might be necessary, but if the tower is high enough to have a clear line of sight to some business several miles away, the demands on the gain of the amplifier and the sensitivity of the receiver aren't that great. 
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« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2013, 05:52:35 AM »

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Amateur radio towers are not exclusively for HF antennas.  There is a lot of amateur radio activity from 144 to 148 MHz, and there are other amateur radio bands up to 1.2 GHz.  It is advantageous to mount antennas for these bands on towers as well.

Interesting. Like I said, I don't know much about amateur radio. I thought it was pretty much all HF. I might have to go do some reading now.

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By the way, 1 GHz corresponds to a wavelength of about 33 cm.

Indeed. But I'm conditioned to consider everything within an order of magnitude (sometimes three orders of magnitude) equal in general discussions.
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Syock
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« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2013, 06:44:47 AM »

http://lrn.fm/broadcast/station/
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RJ Miller
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« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2013, 10:04:09 PM »

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24371894

Quote
As would be expected, Dread Pirate Roberts was using a VPN - virtual private network - to generate a "false" IP address, designed to cover his tracks.

However, the provider of the VPN was subpoenaed by the FBI.

I think a little clarification is needed here: DPR wasn't caught because of his VPN, but rather because he had set the databases he was accessing so that they would only be accessible from the specific IP address he was using.

The FBI snagged THAT information and from there kept it as reference for later on.

So VPN's aren't necessarily a waste. You just have to make sure you're not doing anything to tie a specific IP to you in any way in the process.

Oh, and getting one that operates offshore never hurts.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2013, 10:06:14 PM by RJ Miller » Logged

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AgoristTeen1994
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« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2013, 09:56:54 PM »

Interesting. Like I said, I don't know much about amateur radio. I thought it was pretty much all HF. I might have to go do some reading now.

I hope you do. Amateur radio IS pretty awesome. The only downside is the feds require you to get a license from the FCC, with an FCC issued or approved callsign....and most "hams" (amateur radio operators) are quite willing to turn in those they find who are operating illegally...and considering that many take part in so-called "Fox hunts" which involves tracking down the location of a transmitter based on several different variables for fun....yeah, not exactly wise to operate unlicensed.
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