The risks you take by using anonymization networks

Disclaimer: This blog post contains a mix of fact, personal values, guesses and also contains a certain amount of conspiracy theories. You’re welcome!

By now you know all about the anonymization networks, such as Tor, VPN services and such. And there are also these ever-increasing voices saying that you, as Internet user should use them. Always. And I totally understand what’s lying behind these voices. Being able to stay anonymous on the Internet is one of the major human rights, isn’t it? Well, as long as you’re not eager to be anonymous due to suspicious or illegal behavior on the Internet I tend to agree to some extent. After all, information is the new gold in our shiny new world and why leave information for free?

I hope that it’s well known by know that it’s fairly easy for a site administrator to find out if a user connects through an anonymization network. The technique is used in firewalls, proxies, IDS’s and such. In some cases the administrator can decide to simply block the connection, that approach is fairly common for Internet banking, e-commerce, online gaming and such. And that’s very much a sane approach, why would anyone want to connect anonymously to their bank without suspicious behavior in mind? Well, of course there might be a few valid reasons for that, but generally not. On top of that, in Office 365 it’s now possible to block users trying to log on using these services.

Given that information is high valued, consider the risk of site administrators not wanting to block users using anonymization networks, but rather collecting information about them? Let’s say that you’re using an anonymization network getting to a site on which you verify your identity one way or another. And let’s say that the site allows it, and also collects that piece of information.

Let’s face another fact. Social scoring is already in use in some countries (where China would be the most outstanding early adopter). Even though the rest of the world disagrees, I’m guessing that more countries will adopt in some future. We might end up in a future where our actions are graded one way or another. By the state, or by other individuals. Or in a combination.

(Ever seen the television series Black Mirror? There’s one episode; S3:E1 “Nosedive” that pretty much explains what I mean.)

I have no clue what various kinds of  actions that will end up giving you positive scores, but I’m pretty sure that the fact that you’re using anonymization networks rather will give you negative scoring.

Let’s get away from the flum now. The point in this post is that I believe that you should be careful giving up too much information about your behavior, above all if it’s to be considered suspicious And let’s face it, using anonymization networks in the day-to-day Internet usage is considered suspicious behavior.

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