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Kay
07-22-2014, 07:23 PM
In my current WIP, my MC wants to send sensitive information anonymously. Someone tells her to set up a fake email address and send the info that way.

If she scans documents and sends them as an attachment, would this be easy to trace back to her? Or should I have her simply type the info in the email? I'd rather scan and send the documents so it doesn't appear to come from an anonymous source wanting to spread lies, but if tracing where the scanned documents is fast and easy, I'd rather not go that route.

Should she also be advised to send the info, then cancel the new email acount? (She would never need to use it again.)

The person who gets the info will not try to trace the IP address, or do any research to see where it came from unless tracing scanned documents is easy.

Torgo
07-22-2014, 07:34 PM
It's possible that the scanning software might leave some tell-tales in the file metadata - if it creates a PDF, say, there might be 'author' info in it, which would obviously be bad. It's pretty easy to see if you just look in the doc's Properties dialogue. There are ways to strip this sort of thing out, though, so with some precautions, I wouldn't worry about this aspect too much.

The fake email address thing: if I was being very very careful not to be traced I'd use a disposable email account service (Guerrilla Mail or something like that, and I'd connect to it through the Tor network, and maybe bounce it through some kind of anonymous remailing service run by paranoiacs. If you don't need a reply ever, that should probably frustrate most efforts to trace the source (though in these post-Snowden times who knows?)

Kay
07-22-2014, 07:52 PM
So would this be sufficient: (This is obviously a very rough draft.)

Man: Why don't you just set up a fake email account and send it anonymously?
Woman: I never thought of that. How would I do that without it being traced back to me?
Man: It's not that hard, really. Since you want to send scanned documents I'd need to strip out the author info from your computer. Then I'll set you up with an account using a disposible email service. Just to be on the safe side, I'll make sure to connect it through the Tor network, then bounce it through another remailing service.
Woman: And that's legal? And not able to be traced back to me?
Man: It's legal, and the liklihood of her tracing what you sent is slim to none. It wouldn't be worth the effort.

shadowwalker
07-22-2014, 08:04 PM
I wouldn't even use my own computer. Copy the documents to a CD, go to a library (preferably some distance from your home/office, although the ISP could already be some distance away), set up the anonymous email address, copy/paste the documents, and send.

Kay
07-22-2014, 08:11 PM
I wouldn't even use my own computer. Copy the documents to a CD, go to a library (preferably some distance from your home/office, although the ISP could already be some distance away), set up the anonymous email address, copy/paste the documents, and send.

They have to do it immediately. If not, it screws with my timeline.

Maryn
07-22-2014, 08:28 PM
Be aware, too, that recently free email providers are demanding you have a cell phone, to which they text a passcode to activate your account. My friend without a cell phone could not create a second Yahoo account last winter to separate personal use from commercial and likely-to-spam.

They don't all do this, but you'd want to check it out ahead of time.

Maryn, who refuses to give out her cell number

King Neptune
07-22-2014, 10:35 PM
Google ANONYMOUS EMAIL, and you will get results like https://securemail.hidemyass.com/ .

I am not familiar with that site, but I have several email addresses elsewhere. Using a public access computer in a library, or such, would also help.

Bolero
07-22-2014, 11:40 PM
Old fashioned, but why not fax it from the library?
You might need to worry about security cameras, but other than that.....

Kay
07-23-2014, 12:19 AM
Old fashioned, but why not fax it from the library?
You might need to worry about security cameras, but other than that.....

Because the sender lives in a different state. I'd assumed that it would be fairly easy to trace a fax, and when found it came from the sender's state, the receiver would automatically know who sent the info.

Also, this happens on a Friday night. At this point, I'm not willing to postpone sending the info and have to redo my timeline.

Torgo
07-23-2014, 12:26 AM
Because the sender lives in a different state. I'd assumed that it would be fairly easy to trace a fax, and when found it came from the sender's state, the receiver would automatically know who sent the info.

Also, this happens on a Friday night. At this point, I'm not willing to postpone sending the info and have to redo my timeline.

I think the exchange you suggested earlier works, in fiction at least. I think if you're using an onion routing service to obscure your IP, and a disposable no-registration email account bounced off an anonymous remailer, it's way more than enough to frustrate anyone who isn't actually the FBI or even maybe the NSA. But I get most of my information from people on writers' forums, so...

robjvargas
07-23-2014, 12:40 AM
http://www.fim.uni-linz.ac.at/staff/sonntag/LTAEC_Budapest/Anonymizers/index.html



Remailers

Summary: Remailers let you send and receive email while keeping your real email address secret.

Remailers are sites that retransmit your email with an anonymous return address.
The best remailers can be "chained," where the email bounces 2 or more times.

The article above has good information on how this works, and how it might be overcome to find the real source.

But... how accurate do you need to be? You *could* just simplify it by saying, "I'm bouncing the email through seven different remailers. It'll take her forever to trace that. Then it won't matter anymore."

Hackers will snicker. Regular folk...?

PeteMC
07-23-2014, 12:59 AM
Yeah, hackers will snicker at pretty much anything you do here - being truly anonymous on the net these days is close to impossible, and even TOR is long since compromised. But then I work in the IT industry as it sounds like a lot of your responders here do.

For normal readers though, as robjvargas says, just say something like "I bounced the documents through a darknet proxy that made it look like the mail came from China, wish them luck tracing that" and your reader should be perfectly content.

Kay
07-23-2014, 02:32 AM
Thanks, everyone. I don' t need to get too detailed so this info works perfectly.

aguywhotypes
07-23-2014, 04:51 PM
I'd whip out my Hermes Rocket and type the dad-burn letter and mail it out like we used in the old days.

Kay
07-24-2014, 07:45 PM
I'd whip out my Hermes Rocket and type the dad-burn letter and mail it out like we used in the old days.

There would be a city stamp from the post office, so the receiver would know what city it originated from, and who sent it. Plus, I need the receiver to get the info within a matter of a few hours.

Darkarma
07-29-2014, 03:17 AM
The easiest way would simply to send it through the Tor network through anonymous free emails. If I remember correctly some of them are automatically set up to burn themselves after a set amount of time. Tor itself is relatively secure and little bit harder to breach. You could make it a bit more secure by doing that at a library itself that your mc has no connection to since Tor is a mobile browser the doesn't install anything and it acts as a proxy network.

Also it should be noted if your mc is particularly paranoid they'd only use services that don't require java/javascript. Both of which can be used to sniff out a computer's true IP outside your Tor IP.

Hell even if your MC doesn't know this your other character might and could even be using tor email already instead of standard ISP or Gmail/yahoo email.

The real question is how your MC would even know about such services. Most people know about it from the Silk road, others for programs that be C&D that tear apart DRM and such. Also your scanned files should probably be encrypted, might be useful if your char stuck them in a double encrypted (or more) file and gave their target the decryption keys some other way. That way if the government did get it they wouldn't be able to easily crack it for months if at all.

If they have a big enough usb thumb drive (They're up to 64gb) you could even take it a step further by having it on a portable operating system preconfigured on it and boot the computer up on that or any computer. If they are on the move and they don't want to risk their own laptop or such, that'd be a bit more ideal. Or their laptop is a decoy and they boot it up on the USB for their more secure activities so even if it their laptop is stolen, what they really value is with them still.

However this is bit intensive even someone versed in technology, Tor though would be a bit more available to folks with little computer skills and acts basically like a normal browser that's quite a bit more secure.

robjvargas
07-29-2014, 05:44 PM
If they have a big enough usb thumb drive (They're up to 64gb)...

AHEM! (http://www.bestbuy.com/site/kingston-technology-1tb-usb-3-0-datatraveler-hyperx-predator-up-to-240mb-s/1310395008.p?id=mp1310395008&skuId=1310395008&st=categoryid$abcat0504010&cp=1&lp=1#overview-tab)

WeaselFire
07-29-2014, 07:14 PM
Go to your local copy shop. Hand the clerk the document and tell them you need it scanned and sent to the email address. Pay them. Done.

Jeff

benbradley
07-29-2014, 08:02 PM
Go to your local copy shop. Hand the clerk the document and tell them you need it scanned and sent to the email address. Pay them. Done.

Jeff
They surely have 24/7 video recording, so be sure to wear a ski mask.

Darkarma
08-08-2014, 05:52 PM
AHEM! (http://www.bestbuy.com/site/kingston-technology-1tb-usb-3-0-datatraveler-hyperx-predator-up-to-240mb-s/1310395008.p?id=mp1310395008&skuId=1310395008&st=categoryid$abcat0504010&cp=1&lp=1#overview-tab)

Well.. damn.
I want one... but my wallet is looking at me and giving me death threats.

robjvargas
08-08-2014, 05:56 PM
Well.. damn.
I want one... but my wallet is looking at me and giving me death threats.

Mine's threatening me through my pants pocket... in Braille. Tickles something fierce.

mayqueen
08-08-2014, 06:05 PM
More tech-savvy folks than me have weighed in. I don't know about the scanning part, but the anonymous email and TOR network thing seem to work for your average person to not be able to trace.

Darkarma
08-08-2014, 06:29 PM
Also on the Tormail thing, this also depends on the year your story is taking. IE back in 2013 when freedomhost was hosting Tormail its highly likely your character could have the FBI snooping their computer.