Being anonymous on the clearnet


Keep in mind the semantics of opal hart’s essay blog post early in the year Learning How to Learn regarding the differences between privacy and anonymity: “A commercial VPN is for privacy, while Tor is for anonymity.” Tor provides access through a network of relays which don’t reveal information to other relays. Anonymity is being hidden in location and privacy is about not having communications intercepted, the first relies on the second.

I have had for some time a way to access the clearweb using Tor connected to a VPN. The VPN was purchased with Bitcoin I earned selling my services thus it doesn’t trace back to me. You can even get a domain from Domains4Bitcoin behind Tor exits, though be prepared to answer many captcha challenges. Once you’ve got all that and you’ve been careful not to make revealing mistakes you can then use it to access the clearnet without annoying captchas.

There are issues with Tor only supporting TCP when it comes to accessing your anonymous VPS (AVPS). A VPN is a bad idea because of the TCP over TCP problem, where the protocol arranges packets at endpoints that can come in any order and over different routes. It basically has to do this twice, and this means high latency and connection timeouts interrupting you. Yet there is SSH dynamic port forwarding, which is a SOCKS proxy built into SSH which will take you to the clearnet via your AVPS. To keep the SSH running install autossh as over time the circuit will fail and a new connection will need to be made to your AVPS over Tor.

You should also have your AVPS running Tor itself providing a hidden service for SSH, that takes exit nodes out of the equation reducing latency. As for reaching the AVPS hidden service you could use Tor as a transparent proxy or just run SSH on torsocks. Once this is done you should have a second browser which is secure. I recommend using Firefox Portable and installing NoScript, Adblock (for malware blockers), and Disconnect extensions. Enter in SOCKS proxy settings for the SSH dynamic port forwarding.

If you can do all this, and I don’t provide many directions because I want to make it more clear to people who do this that they are responsible for it, you will have a clearnet IP anonymously. I recommend for a VPS in Bitcoin with no questions asked. With your anonymous VPS and SSH dynamic port forwarding you can do things like trade on Shapeshift, have a Facebook account, and use any services which blocks Tor exits. Some could call this a private Tor exit if they wanted to.

I will provide one hint about how to do this, the autossh command. SSH dynamic port forwarding to the AVPS with a SOCKS listener on localhost port 1080:

$ torsocks autossh -M 0 -fN -l username AVPSxxxxxxxxx.onion -D 1080

Change username to a normal user you have created on the VPS, and remove torsocks of course if you are using a transparent Tor proxy.

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