General discussion


Can the Internet ever be truly anonymous?

By debate ·
Do you agree with Jonathan Yarden that a truly anonymous Internet will never exist? Do you think anonymous Internet usage is a common misconception? How prevalent do you think covert monitoring is on the Web? Share your comments about monitoring Internet activity, as discussed in the Jan. 17 Internet Security Focus newsletter.

If you haven't subscribed to our free Internet Security Focus newsletter, sign up today! Click this link to subscribe automatically:

This conversation is currently closed to new comments.

Thread display: Collapse - | Expand +

All Comments

Collapse -


by Johnj4269 In reply to Can the Internet ever be ...

No such a thing these days. You're stamped when you're born, you contribute to your jacket with every action and inaction, so why should anyone expect privacy anywhere, let alone on-line? Lets face it, you send your (computer) address out when you contact someone, and you know who they are by virtue of their address and if programs such as PREVX can track back an intrusion/suspected intrusion why can't anyone/everyone?
This is NOT an advert, just a f'rinstance. I'm quite sure Government agencies are more than capable of watching every databit on the net all the time.
Also with biometric data looming large for so many 'Security' applications, I can envisage a 'justification' being put forward for DNA/biometric data gathering/recording at birth!
Invasion of what? we're only protecting everyone!
Perhaps the only upside is there will be an inevitable escalation of data/fraud/counter measure on the horizon, so there is fun to come!
Or maybe I'm just tired and depressed, or simply defeated by the politics of fear!

Collapse -

Not completely private but...

by misterqj In reply to Can the Internet ever be ...

I may not be able to completely hide my identity, but by encrypting all my communications, I can make it difficult for others to know exactly what I am doing. In addition, if I really want to make my moves more difficult to track, I can hijack another system to do my work for me. This is what zombies and spam mailers do all the time.

Is complete anonymity possible? Probably not. I just need to make it more trouble than it's worth to track me.

Collapse -

Can the Internet ever be truly anonymous?

I do agree with Jonathan Yarden that a truly anonymous Internet will never exist. This is because as he mentions the internet communication packet has to travel through several servers/computer leaving traces. Also the computer who originated the first communication has to have an IP address of some sort to transmit data.
Also, as Yarden mentions, nothing can prevent transmitted packet to be intercepted and evesdropped, regardless of what encryption is being used.
Besides, there are so many other forms of tracing that exist, such as: cookies, logs, keylogs, malware, trojan horses etc. that threaten user privacy.

Collapse -

Wireless Access

by discovery1k In reply to Can the Internet ever be ...

It has certainly gotten easier to be anonymous when you can buy throw away wireless network cards and pick up an Internet connection in almost any neighborhood. With no MAC address to track and the hard drive reimaged, how would someone trace that back? I think it has gotten far to easy to be anonymous rather than harder.

Collapse -

I don't worry too much

by ynze In reply to Can the Internet ever be ...

I agree, true anonimity doesn't exist. But if you go out on the street or send a good old snail mail letter, you can also be tracked. So what's different from the old days? It's just another means in different circumstances, so why should I get upset by it?
In the "good old days" you could also expect someobody to take your wallet when you left it on the table, so you still have to guard your property as well as you did before. Only the means are different, and probably need a little more education. But that's what life's about: keep learning every day, devolop yourself and just be amazed about how wonderful life is.

Collapse -

The point of encryption

by DEAKB In reply to Can the Internet ever be ...

There is of course no such thing as being untraceable in today?s modern world. But the point of encryption is not to make your communication invisible to others. That will not happen when multiple computers are relaying your messages. The point of encryption is that if the communication is intercepted, the interceptor shall not be able to deduce anything of the information you are sending. The fact that you are sending information to another person is not posible to hide.

Collapse -

If not now, then definitely in near future...

by support In reply to Can the Internet ever be ...

Mr. Jonathan is absolutely right. I too share similar views.

Very soon, we are going to have fully authenticated Internet Network. I guess, in the years to come, the world will need no anonymous network. All of us have to waste more than 25% of working hours, fighting spams, viruses, trojans, intrusions etc.

I suggest the following topic and look to know about the views from experts:

I shall be posting more on my website in this week and am very keen to participate the debate on this issue.

Ashok Khurana

Collapse -

Never Exist??

by Gerra In reply to Can the Internet ever be ...

I don't think Mr. Yarden told us in this article that there would "never be" a truly anonymous Internet. I believe what he said was that whether it ever does or not is of no consequence now, the fact is that it does not now exist.

I do agree with him, however, that we need to accept the fact that, for now, we need to be aware of the shortcomings and pitfalls of the train of thought that leads us to think that we can be "anonymous" on the Internet as we know it today. Without being totally paranoid, we need to take all available precautions to ensure that we keep our private data private, and our public information available to those who need to use it in our best interest.

Collapse -

Privacy vs. Anonymity

by Dave Wagner In reply to Never Exist??

I think that it is possible to have anonymity without privacy. It does the eavesdropper no good to listen in on a conversation if the ends of the conversation can't be identified. For instance, someone uses a coffee shop wireless access point to send a series of packets accross the internet. If that coffee shop is not requiring the users to pay for the access, there is probably little if any way to discover who actually sent the message (aside from possible video evidence or confiscating a suspect's computer for forensic investigation). This makes any intercepted communication very difficult to pin on someone. In other words, free wireless hotspots have added a whole new dimension to "anonymous" internet usage.

Collapse -

"Truly anonymous Internet" is achievable

by Two_Cats In reply to Can the Internet ever be ...

Johnathon has a too stringent definition of what it means to have an anonymous internet. He compares Internet anonymity to using cash instead of checks or credit cards. He claims there should be no record of the transaction, or internet communication. However, we all accept that an anonymous communication has occurred when we are unable to identify the communicator, for instance, when we receive an anonymous phone call. The fact that communication took place, the means, the date/time, or the location are unimportant if you are unable to identify the communicator. Apply this broader definition to the internet, and I think you begin to see that anonymous internet is, indeed, possible. Looking forward to the days when IPV4 is gone, wireless is the normal network access/connection method, and our defenses against identify theft have matured, I see an anonymous internet for those who wish to be anonymous. But I do agree that there will always a digital trail to follow - we just won't always be able to identify the person at the other end.

Related Discussions

Related Forums