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Tools of the Trade

The proxies, in particular, were a huge thing. There were some sites that kept lists of (inadvertently?) open SOCKS proxies, probably for nefarious purposes (you can still find them, actually). There were even sites to check how anonymous your “anonymous” proxy was and how much information your browser was leaking about you (you can still find these too. Nothing says integrity like “”.). You had to assume all your traffic was being logged by the proxy (maybe it was even set up for that purpose?), but when it came to browsing a random website you had no account/password for, or establishing an encrypted connection somewhere else, they were rather useful if you wanted your location concealed. It was somehow easy to overlook the ethical questions that effectively intruding and piggybacking on someone’s network should have raised. A but healthy doses of “ends justifies the means” and “who is it hurting, anyway?” were regular features of a fugitive’s rationalisation repertoire.

Airsnort was something special. A passive WEP cracker released in 2001 (or so?) by The Shmoo Group (see their entry in WATN) which had the distinction of doing real cryptanalysis, exploiting a weakness in RC4 key scheduling to reveal WEP passwords if you collected on the order of 5-10 million packets. It was a bear to get working, and supported only certain PCMCIA Wireless cards, but once working it was rather slick. Open wireless networks were getting less and less common, and I wasn’t in any position to buy internet service at the time, so Airsnort it was.

I spent a lot of time writing on planes that first year. It was partially a defensive tactic. A young girl (and apparently I looked young for my years) travelling alone seemed to attract a lot of attention, either in reality, or because I was so conscious of attracting attention. Either way, looking buried in work of some kind from the moment the door closed to the moment it opened again often (but not always) deterred seatmate conversation.
I’m not sure what I would do without anonymous proxies, my trusty laptop and Airsnort.I’ve booked my flight so I’ll be on my way this evening. I’ll write an entry on the plane if I can.

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