sneakypic

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katranga  asked:

Hi! I was wondering how two people might talk online totally secretly? A supervillain is helping a reporter plan a break in and the supervillain's super paranoid about getting caught. They initially talk through a "private" chat on social media (bc that's the only contact info the reporter has) but the supervillain wants something more secure. Possibly the dark net?? And is there a way to scrub evidence of their initial interaction afterwards? Thanks!

Hallo!

Someone keeping seeeeecrets? Sounds like fun.

Before we dive into this, a quick primer for the sake of covering our bases. The internet is a massive network of computers. The communication and organization of this network is a service provided by a type of company called an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Any information sent to another computer via the internet is sent through that ISP, meaning that if they so wish (and sometimes do) they can look at everything sent. In this sense, nothing ever sent over the internet is ever truly private.

That said, if a character wants to ensure some degree of privacy, they could encrypt (put it through a massively complicated cypher) all their data themselves. This would add a layer of encryption that only them and the intended recipient have the keys for. Decent solution, and some encryptions are really bloody hard to break through. That might suit Supervillain Sneakypants over here, but given enough time, or the right luck, or other reasons, someone who intercepts the communication may crack the encryption and then whoopsiedaisy, Supervillain’s goose is cooked.

Originally posted by yourreactiongifs

(Only tangentially related but I’m a sucker for Spike, gimme a break please don’t hurt me)

So we move on to option two (in my mind, anyway): a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN uses a specialized server called a VPN server (real creative name, nerds) to encrypt a character’s information and allow them to access the internet in a more secure and sneaky way. “But ScriptHacker, that’s what you said before!” Not quite the same thing. A VPN uses a secure, encrypted link called a VPN Tunnel (much better name), which allows a user to access the internet with the IP address of the VPN server instead of their own, and using a well encrypted connection.

This of course means the character is shifting their trust from the ISP to the VPN provider, which has it’s own issues. No matter what a VPN provider says, they will always chose their business over any one customer’s information. While many good VPN providers go to great lengths to make sure they know as little about a customer as possible. Paying anonymously through Bitcoin (which is NOT inherently anonymous, but can be made nearly perfectly so) is another step in the right direction for this to work, and using Tor (a privacy oriented browser, stands for The Onion Router) can boost that bid for anonymity even further. With a VPN, paying the VPN provider with Bitcoin, and accessing it with Tor, your Supervillain can be very close to true anonymity.

But given their paranoia, that might not even suffice.

Originally posted by dancing-to-remember

A truly anonymous way for your characters to communicate would be simply to create their own ‘internet.’ I don’t mean something the same scale as the internet, that would be bananas. No. I mean create their own connection between two devices. Wired is more secure, but depending on your Supervillain’s resources (available workforce, available capital, etc.) running a fiberoptic cable may not be an option. With this method your character really starts to hit the issue of massively diminishing returns.

The ‘dark net’ you speak of, which I covered in this post, is basically just the unindexed part of the internet. It has the same security issues at an ISP level. The characters could set up their own server and call in some of their Evil Misunderstood Contacts™ to make it accessible via the internet but not indexed by a search engine (and hence in the dark web). The server could be set up as part of the Tor network, keyed to only open up when fed a password (for extra security it could be a 256-bit hash generated from the hardware serial numbers in the Supervillain’s computer system), and when it does open up only give out encrypted files (for which the key could be a 256-bit hash of the reporter’s hardware serial numbers, as an idea).

Quick tangent: a hash is an alphanumeric string that is generated from an arbitrarily sized chunk of data. The odds of two generated hashes for two different data sets using a 256-bit hash function is approximately 1/(8.6x10^78). That’s a 1-in-a stupidly-high-number-that-doesn’t-have-a-name chance. Which is ridiculous. Generating this hash from computer hardware serial numbers ensures that getting that same data set to generate the hash is also a redonkulously high amount of unlikely. 

So accessing a ‘dark net’ server using a VPN (paid for with Bitcoin), Tor, an access password, and several layers of file encryption, your Supervillain could achieve a perfectly reasonable level of security and anonymity.

Scrubbing the initial interaction would likely be as simple as deleting the conversation, then deleting the used accounts if that’s an option. Granted, if that conversation has already been flagged or the information sold to someone else, then there’s practically no way of tracking it all down (possible, of course, they aren’t a Supervillain for nothing). They could also try and wipe the Social Media site’s servers and storage sites, but that’s a whole other caper in itself. How strong is their paranoia?

Any of these options seems to work in my mind, and of course there are other options, and strengths and weakness to the ones presented that I haven’t covered. As usual, anyone is welcome to weigh in.

I hope this helped ^^

Disclaimer

~Lotus

Yesterday I took the train with a couple friends down to Chicago. On the train there was this couple.  They were actually one of many couples but this was the only couple who looked truly in love. You can see them in the middle of the picture in between another couple who talked casually during the train ride there and 4 girls who talked the whole train ride about other girls, while swearing and smearing chapstick on their lips.  But that couple in the middle were so peaceful but still were so alive, like they were unaware of everything but themselves. At every stop the guy would cradle her wrists, rub her arms, kiss her shoulders, neck, or cheek, or whisper into her ear through her dark hair. When he checked his phone in was right in front of her so she could see whatever he was texting, and when she checked her phone  for a spilt second I saw her background was a picture of both of them. They were so unlike the other couples on the train. The other couples talked loudly, swore in normal conversation, checked their Iphones constantly, and hardly touched each other. But the couple sitting underneath me were so in love, I can’t help but share how beautiful it was to watch them.