Behavioral Profiling: Tool That Can Shatter Online Anonymity

Researchers from GREYC research lab have engineered a behavioral profiling program that distinguishes different individuals through their keystrokes. Whether it’s your typing speed, consistency or frequency of making systematic typing errors, this technique obliquely shatters online anonymity. Though arguable benign data, it is crucial in identifying behavior and matching it to the right person. To further threaten your onlineanonymity, this technique easily pick up usernames and passwords when you visit membership-based websites; in essence, invading your privacy.

Working in close collaboration, behavioral biometrics and behavioral profiling precisely draft your online portfolio, making it easier to keep tabs on you as soon as you start typing and speaking online from a certain location; your facial features are analyzed as well. Whereas behavioral biometrics are based on subtle nuances in your typing patterns, voice, location and special features, behavioral profiling track your online presence after having analyzed your behavior. Each needs the other to accomplish what many loath; shatter your online anonymity without remorse. No one is in the clear when it comes to behavioral profiling.

Though it may appear relatively harmless when being collected by a single website, imagine the level of privacy breach involved when multiple websites, all big names in the industry and collectively owned by one entity, collect crucial information without the user’s content. These multiple sites act as information databases and when matched up and compared, your profile will be created within no time and with little or no gaps. The researchers at GREYC lab are using JavaScript or a profiling app to collect biometric data, especially keystrokes. The amount of time between your keystrokes is also noted and aids in creating your profile, further compromising your online anonymity.

If it’s perfectly normal for you to omit spacing your words, this technique developed by researchers will associate this behavioral trait with you more so if you frequent the same websites at a particular time of the day. Each time you add new information to these websites; this tool will gobble up the information, update it in your profile and continue mapping your different characteristics. Online anonymity, though bolstered by numerous passwords and sign-in options, will soon be an open book. Data mining entities are on the rise and some have already been bold enough to deny these claims even when evidence is presented.

The GREYC lab researchers have portrayed consistency in the results brought forth by their algorithm. Your keystrokes are not a rigid structure and from time to time, there will be considerable differences. Even then, the graphs used in identifying your online presence remain largely uniform, distinguishing you from anyone else whose behavioral traits seem to match yours. Just like fingerprints were and still are used for identification, this evolved to DNA and now keystrokes are beckoning to be the leading identifier online; the possibilities which this technology can unleash are limitless, especially in the cybercrimes units. Online anonymity may have been assured by private window browsing’ or application of passwords a few years ago but think again; the playing field has drastically changed and is no longer level.

Anti-Piracy Bill Passed By The Australian Senate

It’s official. Goodbye Pirate Bay. Goodbye bit torrents. Everyone living off freebies from the Internet is crying foul. Content creators are having a field day. Why? Australia’s Senate voted to enact legislation to block websites in a bid to crack down on rampant piracy. How will it affect your Internet activities? Are there repercussions to online anonymity?

How they Voted

Anti-Piracy Symble on Keyboard Enter

The Senate had been debating amendments to the Bill for an entire day. The Bill had bi-partisan support from the Coalition and Labor. As expected, the Greens were opposed to the Bill’s passage without some key amendments. They called for the Bill to be watered down to prevent its usage as a de facto Internet filter against “objectionable” material. The Bill passed through the Upper House without a single successful amendment. They were voted down all through the day.

When the final vote held, the Bill passed with 37 yay votes to just 13 against.

After the Copyright Amendment Bill 2015 has been signed into law by the Governor- General, it’ll only be a matter of time before the first sites start getting blocked. Don’t let the rumours sway you – the Bill is only after copyright infringement, not online anonymity. In fact, online anonymity is in line with your right to privacy, and no one can take that away from you.

What the Anti- Piracy Bill Means

The controversial anti-piracy legislation will see to it that Internet service providers (ISPs) block access to websites which host material that infringes copyright. Online anonymity is not the target of this legislation. Companies can now go to a Federal Court judge and get overseas sites blocked if their “primary purpose” is to facilitate the copyright infringement. At first, you won’t notice any difference. Even if you currently share torrent files such as movies or music without paying, nothing will change. The rights holder first has to succeed in the getting the Federal Court of Australia to order an ISP to block a website. The ISP will then take steps to filter the website and its contents, preventing their customers from accessing them.

The first targets of the legislation are likely to be popular torrenting and file sharing websites KickAssTorrents and The Pirate Bay. Your days of pirating music, TV shows and movies through file sharing sites are numbered. Online anonymity services such as those from VPS won’t be affected. They are still a legitimate online anonymity service for privacy-and security-conscious Internet users.

The Film and TV industry considered it to be a victory whereas for the rest of the citizens it was very shocking. Everyone was used to getting high quality stuff from the Internet for free. According to Vanessa Hutley, the General Manager Music Rights Australia, Australian consumers have more than 30 licensed music sites to choose from online , yet “these illegal sites have continued to flourish and make money for their operators” simply because nothing much could be locally done by the copyright owners to stop them.

Online Anonymity with VPNs


While some have chosen to pirate less, others have decided to go underground. Faced with increased monitoring and potential legal action many file-sharers have taken counter measures- they’ve sought online anonymity. The Aussie anti-piracy legislation has triggered massive surge in VPN and BitTorrent proxy usage. The recent events have driven tens of thousands of new users to anonymizing services. The Internet is like a river-if you try to block its flow, the water will find another way. VPN service providers are prominent as geo-unblocking kryptonite. The online anonymity they offer is a welcome bonus. The Aussie case won’t be the first time that anti-piracy measures have turned people to anonymizing tools. The same thing happened when the US Copyright Alert System was launched. There was also a spike in online anonymity services in Canada after ISPs began forwarding piracy notices.

The government will review the effectiveness of the laws in 18 months.

Strong Encryption And Online Anonymity Are Important To Protect Rights

On June 17th, 2015, the UN special rapporteur for freedom of media expression, David Kaye, presented a documented report on the importance of using encryption and web anonymity in virtual communications. His report was presented to the 29th session of the Human Rights Council for consideration. It recognizes the use of these technologies in helping people exercise certain privileges like the freedom of opinion, self-expression and online anonymity.


Senior researcher at Human Rights Watch Mrs. Cynthia Wong had said that strong data encryption and online anonymity are critical tools in protecting human rights activists, journalists, and other ordinary internet users in the modern age that we live in. It gives them a safe and secure place to express their thoughts without worrying about arbitrary arrests coming from the state, especially at a time when most governments around the world are looking for ways of expanding invasive surveillance programs. Some of the report’s key recommendations include:

I. Signatory countries should avoid taking measures that are aimed at weakening security for citizens who use the Internet, such as authorizing “back door” infiltrations, fallible encryption standards and corrupting key escrow arrangements. The report also requires technology companies to avoid building vulnerabilities into secured digital products, since this can greatly undermine the security of those using such products.

II. Countries should refrain from imposing blanket prohibitions on matters encryption and online anonymity, such polices only infringe on the rights of innocent people to access the web freely and are therefore not necessary. Some of these blanket restrictions include the state controlling importation and export of decoding tools and users requiring licensing before getting encryption on their respective PCs.

Identity Hide

III. Nations should avoid making official identification of users a requirement before accessing web services, or SIM card registry for those who use mobile phones to browse the net. Any restrictions whatsoever on online anonymity should be based on logic, targeted on a specific case-basis such as when there’s enough evidence that one is using their privilege to break certain Internet laws.

Regaining Online Anonymity Through Tor Project

Though total online anonymity may be hard to obtain, using Tor project makes it harder for government surveillance programs or any other party to track the Internet activity of its user. Tor project is the most reliable solution to privacy oriented persons, press reporters, protest organizers, and political activists who are in search of online anonymity.

Anonymity Online TOR

There are several methods of going online by use of Tor network. However, the most famous is the Tor Browser. This is cost free software that helps users to go online via a distributed network. To achieve total online anonymity, users are informed to deactivate all their extensions including JavaScript, Flash, having in mind that this undermines access to some services and sites.

Users can also connect to a Tor network while using other browsers like Firefox and Internet Explorer after making some adjustments to the network settings. There are more programs that enable users to connect to a Tor network such as TorChat anonymous messaging service and the BitTorrent client.

Tor browser is cost-free software that provides online anonymity. The browser directs internet traffic via free, worldwide, volunteer operated network that consists of more than 4000 relays. It conceals the location of the user and other communicated information from anyone doing traffic analysis or internet surveillance.

Tor is aimed to protect the user’s personal privacy, ability and freedom to carry out confidential business activities without being monitored. With Tor, a user can regain access to websites anonymously. The sites accessed will be unable to track them, or alter what they show them on basis of their previous activity simply because they don’t have an idea of who they are or where they are located.

Tor network is also the most efficient censorship circumvention tool that allows its users to access otherwise restricted content or destinations.

When using Tor project, the original data is encrypted and re-encrypted several times after which it is sent via a virtual circuit comprised of successive, arbitrary selected Tor relays. The last relay decrypts the final encryption layer and passes the original information without revealing its source to the recipient. By doing so, the possibility of the original information being comprehended in transit is significantly reduced and, more importantly, conceals its routing.

The internet address of the recipient and the sender are not in cleartext at any place along the way, as a result, any person eavesdropping at any area along the channel of communication, cannot identify the both ends directly. Furthermore, it appears to the recipient that the exit node (the final Tor node) is the source of the information rather than the one who sent it.

online anonymity

The ongoing trends in technology, policy, and law threaten  online anonymity as never before, this is undermining our ability to read and speak freely online. Furthermore, the above trends threaten our critical infrastructure and national security by making exchange of information among governments, organizations, and individuals more vulnerable to internet surveillance. Every new user and relay gives additional diversity, improving the ability of Tor network to bring online anonymity back to the web.

How Safe Is Your Online Anonymity

Tor web browsing is a group of servers that enables users to improve their online anonymity. The volunteer-operated servers allow users to use their servers by connecting via a series of tunnels instead of performing a direct connection. Individuals and organizations can as a result share important information over open networks while maintaining their online anonymity.

The use of Tor Network

0The free software helps you protect against traffic analysis, a kind of surveillance that threatens individual privacy and freedom, state security, and relationships. Traffic analysis is used to find out who is communicating to whom over an open network. Discovering the destination and source of internet traffic enables others track your interests and behavior.

The reason for online anonymity

Traffic analysis works as follows; Internet data packets contain two main parts: a header that is normally used for routing and a data payload. Data payload is the information being sent, whether it’s a webpage, an audio file or an email message. Even if you try to encrypt all your communications, a great deal of what you are doing or possibly saying is disclosed by traffic analysis. The reason for the above being that it remains focused on the header that reveals destination, source, timing, size and so on.

images123A fundamental problem for those who want to maintain their online anonymity is that the receiver of your information can know that you sent some communication by checking the headers. Intermediaries with legal authority like service providers of the internet or sometimes unauthorized intermediaries too can therefore, access such information. The simplest kind of traffic analysis involves sitting somewhere between the recipient and sender on the network checking for headers.

There are more powerful types of traffic analysis. The majority of attackers spy on some areas on the internet and employ advanced techniques to track patterns of communication of many individuals and different organizations. Encryption does not protect against these hackers since it only masks the internet traffic content and not the headers.

The Best Solution: A distributed anonymous network

Tor assists in the reduction of both sophisticated and simple traffic analysis risks by spreading your online transactions in various areas on the internet, preventing any single point from linking you to your specific destination.

Tor assists in the reduction of both sophisticated and simple traffic analysis risks

Maintaining online anonymity

Tor can’t solve all your anonymity problems. It only focuses on protecting the transport of your data. You have to use protocol-specific software such as Tor Browser to hide your identifying information to the websites you visit. Be smart in protecting your anonymity. Avoid providing your name in web forms and other revealing information for more privacy and security.

Here is the bottom line; data encryption may not be enough in the maintenance of your online anonymity. Tor network offers you a great help but needs to be backed up by other techniques for the best results.

Different Ways To Browse The Web Anonymously

Online Anonymity: How to browse the web anonymously:

I. Hide your IP address

Different Ways To Browse The Web AnonymouslyThe IP address is a unique digital code that’s assigned to every web browser and can be used to track down a person’s exact location. To prevent this from happening, you can always link it to a proxy server so that the websites you’re visiting shall only have information about this proxy and not yours.

Another viable method is installing a VPN (Virtual Private Network), though one will require administrator access on their PC for the program to be activated. All in all most VPNs require prior subscription, but in return the beneficiary will gain access to 1000s of anonymous IPs which they can use. These online anonymity systems provide higher levels of encryption than web-based proxies. VPNs have the ability to hide both inbound/outbound traffic emanating from a computer including messages and attached files, compared to their counterparts which only work through the tab browser.

II. Delete Cookies

Cookies refer to tiny text files that are saved on your browser when visiting certain websites. They hold information such as login details, user preferences, online shopping cart content and other related identifiers. To delete them, just click to the part written “History” then you’ll see a tag labeled “Cookies and other site and plug-in data”. Click on it for all the cookies to be removed instantly. Alternatively, you can adjust the Browser settings on your computer so that these text files are blocked from accessing your PC in the first place.

II. Delete Cookies

III. USB Sticks

This is an emerging trend in online anonymity that’s already proving to be very successful. Here, the software used to encrypt your web-connection is stored inside a USB port so that you can remain safe even while using public PCs. The USB key is small and can easily fit in your wallet when not in use, but once activated it shall launch its own pass-protected browser for maximum online anonymity.III. USB Sticks

Online Anonymity: Using Proxy server

When surfing the internet, your IP address is usually exposed to cyber hackers who can track it down and access private details that are found in your computer. To avoid such things from happening it’s advisable to install a proxy server for online anonymity. This program acts as an intermediate for incoming requests from clients looking for data resources from other computer servers.


Generally, a user connects to the proxy system requesting for specific services such as access to a file, web page or connection to various apps. The server will then evaluate these requests in order to determine their legitimacy, it would also try to simplify and regulate complexity levels based on the level of web access that one is allowed. Note that proxies can be programmed to either block web browsers permanently or partially, of course depending on the administrator’s online anonymity preferences.

There are three types of proxy servers which include:

        a)    Normal. It’s designed to track/listen incoming information from a separate port and web users are configured to relay connectivity requests towards that particular port.

        b)    Transparent. Also known as anintercepting server, this server is designed to eliminate the client’s side configuration settings by residing on the gateway and intercepting all WWW requests from browsers. It subsequently fetches the content afresh and replies using a local cache for maximum online anonymity.

         c)    Reverse. This application works slightly differently from the others since it benefits web servers rather than the clients. A reverse proxy will cache all static answers from an online server, then reply to clients via its own cache so as to reduce oncoming traffic load.


When web users want their identities to remain undisclosed while visiting other sites they can easily download an anonymous proxy server onto their PCs. To do this, you first have to identify the unsigned server then write down the specific address that you’re looking for. It will establish a connection and retrieve the pages that are being searched before they appear on other proxy server’s database. Consequently, the IP address which the owner of the site you’re visiting shall see will not be yours but that of the anonymous proxy server. This online anonymity strategy allows users to visit any website without leaving behind traces of their footprints.