Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I know where you live or work

There are services out there called "Anonymizers", which shield others from determining information about you, and where you are, based on low-level computer information in the communications you use while surfing the 'net, or sending emails.

Why should you consider this? Some (not all) connections to the Internet are from IPs (Internet Protocol Addresses, essentially the online address of your computer) that are unique or peculiar to your own computer, or a server very close to you. If you have dial-up, a small, local ISP, or a static IP address (many company Internet connections do this), it is fairly easy to determine your physical location with this IP address (or the name of the company you work for).

For example, I can set up a fake blog, lure some people into it, use "statcounter" to determine what IP address they're coming from, go to "http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/website-country/" and do a geotargeting search with that IP address, and then get a nice auto-generated Google satellite map of your neighborhood where you live or work (if your IP address is one that isn't anonymized, proxied, or otherwise not one of the types I list above). A little scary? You tell me.

How do I fix this? Well, you need to determine if you've got an IP address that's relatively unique, static and traceable. Ask your computer support person, or perhaps I can help. If it is, you'll need to determine whether the kind of IP address you have is absolutely necessary for your kind of Internet connection and usage. If it is, well then anonymizer products are for you. Ugh.

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