Nominee For Email Of The Year

Anybody that knows me knows that 99.999999% of the time any email I get that says or in any way implies that it should be forwarded on is going to hit my trash folder fast enough to leave a trail of Cherenkov radiation and set off neutrino detectors all over the planet.  I’m actually that bad about it.

However when I read this email from my sister it was both funny and factual enough that it really deserves to be shared.  So instead of pummeling people’s inboxes with it I decided that I would post it here instead.

The subject line was: NOMINEE FOR “EMAIL OF THE YEAR”!!!

After being interviewed by the school administration, the prospective teacher said:

Let me see if I’ve got this right.

You want me to go into that room with all those kids, correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits, censor their T-shirt messages, and instill in them a love for learning.

You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, and raise their sense of self esteem and personal pride..

You want me to teach them patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, and how to register to vote, balance a checkbook, and apply for a job.

You want me to check their heads for lice, recognize signs of antisocial behavior, and make sure that they all pass the final exams.

You also want me to provide them with an equal education regardless of their handicaps, and communicate regularly with their parents in English, Spanish or any other language, by letter, telephone, newsletter, and report card.

You want me to do all this with a piece of chalk, a blackboard, a bulletin board, a few books, a big smile, and a starting salary that qualifies me for food stamps.

You want me to do all this and then you tell me. . . I CAN’T PRAY?

Talk about your basic DUH! moments!  If anybody ever needed prayer it’s teachers.

Technorati Tags: prayer, prayer in school, email, teachers, teachers need prayer

Anonymous Email Review – Deadfake.com

Over the years I’ve seen a lot of sites that offer the visitor the ability to send emails that they promote as being anonymous.  Unfortunately, most of them offer very little if any actual anonymity at all.

Most of these sites tell the user that they make it possible to send an email that the recipient will not be able to find out who sent it when in fact, the email can be traced back to the server it came from and from there it’s a simple matter of a subpoena to get the website server logs and discover when the website form sent the message to the mail server, the IP address of the user that filled out the form and the date & time the form was sent.

Given the IP address and the timestamp, it’s almost trivial for somebody’s lawyer to take the steps needed to get their ISP to give up what user account was assigned that IP address at that time.  From there the person responsible for that user account gets contacted by the attorney and things may or may not get legal depending on the situation.

The so-called anonymous email services that many sites offer are good for very little more than to be used as toys, joking back and forth with friends, family and acquaintances that aren’t going to decide to haul your carcass into court and get legal on you.

Therefore I’m going to start doing reviews of these sites and explaining why I believe their services to not be nearly as anonymous as they look at first glance.  The first of these is deadfake.com.

Deadfake has a simple introduction that tells the visitor that they can use the site to send anonymous emails and make it look like it came from somebody else.  It appears to be intended for the sole purpose of playing pranks on people and having some fun with them.  As a point in their favor they do have a warning:

Don’t send any spam or other illegal things from this site. Email is never really fully anonymous (check the FAQ for more info). It’s also bad karma, and I will track you down and bite you.

Their FAQ also explains that this isn’t *really* anonymous and that it does add both an X-Mailer and X-Originating-Ip headers that contain all the information needed to identify the sender’s ISP and find the sender.

As a test, I went on to the “send fake mail” page and filled in the form to send myself a test message.  Once the message was done I filled in the captcha and hit “send now”.  Instead of being told that the message was sent, I was greeted with an error message:

Oops!

Sorry, there was some sort of problem while sending your message – please try again in a few minutes!

I tried again a few minutes later and then again a few hours later, each time getting the same error message.  That’s when I noticed a block of stats in the sidebar:

Stats

Total emails sent: 223291

…in last 24 hours: 0

I never did get deadfake to work and perhaps it’s just as well.  While a site like this can be fun to play around with sending your kid sister emails from Elvis and such, they can also be all too easily used by somebody who need to really anonymous, only to find out that their anonymity was very thin indeed.

Another thing that the site offers is a two page walk through that explains how to use a very simple nslookup command to identify a mail server to use and how to use telnet to connect to that server and send email from it.

I Strongly recommend AGAINST doing that.

For one thing, if you have a real need to be anonymous, you’ve blown it the second you open the telnet session.  The server logs will have your IP address and a timestamp of when you connected.  In short, you’re pwned before the message is even sent.

For another, while this technique CAN be used to send mail (I’ve done it myself with my own mail server just to prove I could), It requires that the mail server does not require authentication in order to send mail.  That kind of mail server is becoming a rare beast indeed these days as server admins take steps to keep from being an “open relay” that can be taken advantage of by spammers.

Another good reason not to use the telnet method is that there are plenty of sites whose legal departments will be all too glad to jump down your throat for unauthorized use of their servers and frankly, if such a case goes to court they’re going to win.  Save yourself the trouble and DON’T do it in the first place.

Yes, there ARE ways to have secure anonymity and send anonymous email that’s all but impossible to trace.  Deadfake.com isn’t one of them.

Technorati Tags: review, anonymity, anonymous email site, send anonymous email, anonymous email, website review

Anonymous Email – Step Three: Adding Mixmaster

In a previous entry I gave a brief introduction and installation guide to Jack B. Nymble, a client program for sending anonymous email.  Once the program is installed and it’s stats are refreshed.  It’s possible to send anonymous email.

However as it is so far, it’s limited to using Type I (Cypherpunk) remailers.  By adding Mixmaster, you get the ability to use Type II remailers as well.  Type II remailers are designed with higher security in mind and to be resistant to things like replay attacks (where messages are captured by an attacker and resent lots of times to create a large trail of traffic in an attempt to follow the message)

To add mixmaster capability to JBN.  First of course you need the mixmaster executable.  The most recent version that works with JBN is Mixmaster 2.04b6, and it’s detached signature file that you can use to verify that it hasn’t been messed with since it was signed.

Once you have verified the Mixmaster archive, extract the files into a directory of it’s own.  You MUST use a short directory name (8 characters or less.) I use “MIX” and put it in the root directory of the drive it’s installed on for example: C:\MIX

At this point people running win95 or win98 need to add the line:

set MIXPATH=C:\MIX

to their autoexec.bat file

Win XP users need to log into their admin account and right click on the “my computer” icon and choose “properties”, then click the “Advanced” Tab and click the “Environment Variables” button.  Then you click “new” and give the variable name MIXPATH and the value C:\MIX (or the directory you used to install mixmaster).  Then click “OK” on everything and log off of the Admin account.

Then start JBN.  on the Window menu, choose Remailer config and select the mixmaster tab.  Enter the mixmaster directory and set the version to 2.0.4 you can set MINREL to 95, MAXLAT to 6:00 and DISTANCE to 5 and click ‘OK’

Now when you’re composing a message you can use the Remailers menu item Mixmaster to use mixmaster remailers and JBN will handle setting things up for mixmaster and emailing the resulting file.

There’s a lot more to this of course and I just realized that I haven’t covered sending messages with JBN at all and while just spending some time reading the docs that come with the program and looking over menu choices really does tell you all you need, I’ll cover that in an upcoming entry.

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The Growing British Police State

I think it’s pretty much recognized by a lot of people that over the last several years Britain has been becoming more and more of a police state.  From closed circuit tv cameras all over the place not only in the cities but also watching the highways to passing laws that allow them to demand your encryption keys and passwords anytime they *think* they might have a cause (and throwing you in jail for two years if you don’t snap to and hand ’em over).

I honestly can’t tell you how many news items I’ve seen that very clearly show the progression of Britain towards a full blown Orwellian nightmare of a police state in which everybody and anybody is subject to being watched.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that government security types write their diaries with George Orwell’s 1984 promotional pens, not one bit.

Recently they’ve taken yet another step on this path, The British Home Office has, quietly put in place a plan that will allow police all over Britain to hack into people’s personal computers without a warrant any time they decide to, never mind anything like privacy laws and whatnot.

This means that if the police or Mi5 decide that they can benefit by tapping your communications the could simply break into your home and / or office and install a hardware keylogger or perhaps keylogging software on your computer.  This would then record every single keystroke you typed.  The device or software could either store the information until it was retrieved or it could well use your internet connection to call home and send the information it’s collected.

If the suspect isn’t one to practice “safe hex”, they could send you an email with an attachment.  Once you you opened it, it would then install remotely controlled spyware.  If you’ve got a Wi-Fi setup at home and haven’t taken steps to make it and your computer secure, they could just sit somewhere nearby in a van and hack into the system through the insecure Wi-Fi and then have access to everything on your system.

And the list of possibilities goes on and on.  Another thing, this isn’t just restricted to Britain, it’s all over the EU as well with police and intelligence agencies expanding their use of “warrantless intrusive surveillance of private property”.

One last note.

Before you think to yourself, “I’m glad I live in America where we’ve got rights and they can’t do stuff like that.”, think again.

The Homeland Security Act, The Patriot Act, The Bush administration giving the NSA the green light to do all of that illegal, unconstitutional, warrantless wiretapping.

And while you’re saying, “Ah, but now we’ve got Obama in office and he’s gonna fix all that.”, think again.  Obama has already taken Bush’s side of the warrantless wiretapping mess and will no doubt continue it.  In fact, I think that if privacy, freedom and civil rights took a beating under Bush, Obama’s going to do more and worse.

I think it would be great to have a president that wouldn’t shit on freedom and the constitution but I really don’t know how you could get an Honest, honorable person elected.  I’ll admit that when he was first elected I thought Bush was the right man for the job.  I started seeing the truth shortly after 911 when the Homeland security act was passed by a Congress that never even bothered to READ the thing.  I saw more of it when the Patriot Act was passed. and so on and on.

I’ll close this with some quotes.  This first one I’ve quoted before but It’s worth reading again:

“An evil exists that threatens every man, woman, and child of this great
nation.  We must take steps to ensure our domestic security and protect our
homeland.”

– Adolf Hitler, proposing the creation of the Gestapo in Nazi Germany.
– George Bush, Talking about the Homeland Security Act and the Patriot Act.

And some more food for thought:

“The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become
the instruments of tyranny at home.”

James Madison, fourth president of
the United States

And finally this one:

“There are four boxes to use in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order.” -Ed Howdershelt

(by the way, I think it’s pretty clear that the first two haven’t done much good lately.  Anyone for the third?)

Privacy At Risk Under Obama?

On Jan 14, Eric Holder, the new attorney general, testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Holder said the Obama administration is going to defend the 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that immunizes telecommunications companies from lawsuits over their involvement in the Bush administration’s illegal surveillance of the telephone and Internet communications of ordinary Americans.

This is in spite of the fact that While still a Senator, Obama pledged that he would oppose that bill and intended to filibuster it.  In actuality, he ended up voting for it.  Strange how nobody seems to remember that now.  Then again, it’s not like the Forth Amendment is covered a whole lot in schools these days now is it?  When *I* went to school, the textbooks for American history and Civics classes actually contained not only a lot of study material about he Constitution and the Bill of Rights, they also contained verbatim copies of those documents!  (for that matter, in one high school American history class I heard about, instead of actually teaching American history, this “educator” has the class watching movies all semester!)

Now that he’s President, AT&T, Verizon and the other major telcos can rest assured that they are free to continue providing a steady stream of our communications to the NSA, which will then share that data with whatever other agencies as it sees fit.

Under this legislation the NSA’s reach is very wide and touches almost everything.  Basically it means that the government can conduct intrusive surveillance and never have to tell a court who it’s going to spy on, never have to reveal what phone lines or what email addresses it’s going to monitor, never say where it’s targets are, why it’s doing surveillance on the target in the first place or even if they suspect them of any wrongdoing.

This isn’t the America I grew up in!

I realize that intelligence agencies need to be able to monitor Internet communications and email but they should have to show probable cause, some legitimate justification that the particular American(s) have some link to terrorism.  Then matters need to proceed on the basis of innocent until proven guilty.  Unfortunately, this notion of presumed innocence, something that used to be one of the founding principles of our Constitution, is apparently too old fashioned for President Obama.

The Obama administration’s intent to support the 2008 FISA amendments is going to end up being the ultimate cause of the dismissing of a lot of lawsuits by individual Americans who are understandably eager to know whether they’ve been spied on.

Meanwhile, Obama’s decision to discard the Fourth Amendment is unfortunately supported by the August 2008 ruling by the secret Foreign Intelligence Court of Review which was revealed recently saying in effect that yes, telecommunications companies have to play ball with NSA (and other government intelligence agencies) and continue intercept our phone calls and e-mails.

Of course, this secret court’s isn’t even remotely likely to be revised to give it power to review the government’s now pretty much limitless, warrantless wholesale spying on our communications made possible by the 2008 FISA Amendments Act.  The government can and will continue all this domestic spying without even so much as a single bit of evidence that the American target in question is doing anything to act or plan against national security.

Technorati Tags: privacy, fisa, illegal domestic spying, nsa, fisa amendment, fisa court, without evidence, intelligence agencies, right to privacy, constitution, national security, warrantless wiretapping, obama administration, forth amendment, domestic spying, president obama, fisa amendment 2008, secret fisa court, obama

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