Friday, March 04, 2005

Big Brother is watching...

Tadayoshi Kohno, a doctoral candidate at the University of California San Diego has authored a research paper outlining a way to 'fingerprint' a computer remotely, allowing someone to track it no matter where it connects to the internet. Here's a link to an article on ZDNet Australia that summarizes his findings. Application of his technique could be used to "help track laptops as they move, perhaps as part of a Carnivore-like project" or "obtain information about whether two devices on the Internet, possibly shifted in time or IP addresses, are actually the same physical device." He also states that "For all our methods, we stress that the fingerprinter does not require any modification to or cooperation from the fingerprintee." Kohno and his team tested their techniques on many operating systems, including Windows XP and 2000, Mac OS X Panther, Red Hat and Debian Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD and even Windows for Pocket PCs 2002. Whoa. A little disturbing to think of the possible ways this could be used against people by government agencies, or evil hackers though. The 'fingerprint' technique can even sniff out PC's that are behind a NAT (Network Address Translation) device like a router, so there's no way to hide from it, apparently. Maybe nothing to worry about, but it's like I always say - Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that people aren't out to get you.

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