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Tracking IP addresses and Usenet posts?

 
 
ZnU
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      01-04-2011
In article <ifu2c0$r29$(E-Mail Removed)-september.org>,
Hadron<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> FromTheRafters <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:
>
> > RayLopez99 wrote:
> >> This is more a privacy question but I could not figure out a forum for
> >> it.

> >
> > Some privacy newsgroups have the word "privacy" in their names.
> >
> > I don't know the program you are talking about, but if you find it I
> > would be interested in the "posting style" aspect of identification. It
> > is my belief that *that* method is more powerful than just an IP address
> > or even a range of IP addresses. With all of the different ways users
> > can access the internet and usenet, IP numbers change too often to be of
> > any use outside of the authority's ability to match the IP and the time
> > to the client account and contactable person's name and street address.
> >
> > Usenet posts can be completely untraceable if the right system is used,
> > but posting style can be a dead giveaway good enough for non-authorities.

>
>
> Except thats nonsense since people can vary their posting style based on
> any and all criteria : even down to the time of day! and with a
> programmable system like Emacs/gnus it could be based on something as
> crazy as the air pressure that minute!


There are some characteristics of language use that can be very hard to
deliberately alter -- particularly with the (generally low) amount of
effort someone is likely to put into writing Usenet posts. Things like
the frequency with which specific words are used over a statistically
significant text sample, for instance.

I don't know about off-the-shelf software for doing this sort of
analysis, but techniques like these have been use to help determine
whether to ascribe particular writings to particular historical authors,
e.g. the "Were all of Shakespeare's plays really written by one man?"
question.

--
"The game of professional investment is intolerably boring and over-exacting to
anyone who is entirely exempt from the gambling instinct; whilst he who has it
must pay to this propensity the appropriate toll." -- John Maynard Keynes
 
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Snit
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      01-04-2011
FromTheRafters stated in post ifu205$vst$(E-Mail Removed)-september.org on
1/3/11 7:51 PM:

> RayLopez99 wrote:
>> This is more a privacy question but I could not figure out a forum for
>> it.

>
> Some privacy newsgroups have the word "privacy" in their names.
>
> I don't know the program you are talking about, but if you find it I
> would be interested in the "posting style" aspect of identification. It
> is my belief that *that* method is more powerful than just an IP address
> or even a range of IP addresses. With all of the different ways users
> can access the internet and usenet, IP numbers change too often to be of
> any use outside of the authority's ability to match the IP and the time
> to the client account and contactable person's name and street address.
>
> Usenet posts can be completely untraceable if the right system is used,
> but posting style can be a dead giveaway good enough for non-authorities.


While there are tools to try to determine if one set of text is written by
the same author as another set, the tools are far from perfect and require a
fairly long sample. I was working with a professor who had access to (and
was improving) such tools. I used it to confirm my suspicions with Steve
Carroll and some of his socks, but *alone* I would not have considered it
enough evidence to be certain (though after I used about 100 of his posts
and about 50 of his socks, the confidence level reported by the software was
over 90%).

Steve also has tried to mimic my style with other socks of his - and the
best I found he could do was about a 60-65% level of confidence by the
software, and much lower when his exact quotes of mine were removed (around
40%). Still, the fact he was able to get above the baseline 5% or so was
telling - it indicated that he could "capture" some of my style. I suspect
others could do better.

I also assume there might be better software out there to do this task, but
I do not know of any.


--
[INSERT .SIG HERE]


 
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FromTheRafters
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      01-04-2011
Hadron wrote:
> FromTheRafters<(E-Mail Removed)> writes:
>
>> RayLopez99 wrote:
>>> This is more a privacy question but I could not figure out a forum for
>>> it.

>>
>> Some privacy newsgroups have the word "privacy" in their names.
>>
>> I don't know the program you are talking about, but if you find it I
>> would be interested in the "posting style" aspect of identification. It
>> is my belief that *that* method is more powerful than just an IP address
>> or even a range of IP addresses. With all of the different ways users
>> can access the internet and usenet, IP numbers change too often to be of
>> any use outside of the authority's ability to match the IP and the time
>> to the client account and contactable person's name and street address.
>>
>> Usenet posts can be completely untraceable if the right system is used,
>> but posting style can be a dead giveaway good enough for non-authorities.

>
>
> Except thats nonsense since people can vary their posting style based on
> any and all criteria : even down to the time of day! and with a
> programmable system like Emacs/gnus it could be based on something as
> crazy as the air pressure that minute!
>

Yes, but if they continually misspell a certain set of words, that can
be enough for a non-authority "fingerprint". Also, use of a certain
phrase can be a clue. I recall a poster using "quiet" for "quite" among
other things and some thrown in 'as it were' that convinced me it was a
person already known to me under another nym - i didn't need an IP.

 
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RayLopez99
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      01-04-2011
On Jan 4, 4:51*am, FromTheRafters <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> RayLopez99 wrote:
> > This is more a privacy question but I could not figure out a forum for
> > it.

>
> Some privacy newsgroups have the word "privacy" in their names.
>
> I don't know the program you are talking about, but if you find it I
> would be interested in the "posting style" aspect of identification. It
> is my belief that *that* method is more powerful than just an IP address
> or even a range of IP addresses. With all of the different ways users
> can access the internet and usenet, IP numbers change too often to be of
> any use outside of the authority's ability to match the IP and the time
> to the client account and contactable person's name and street address.
>
> Usenet posts can be completely untraceable if the right system is used,
> but posting style can be a dead giveaway good enough for non-authorities.


Yes, good point. The authorities are concerned with finding the
contactable person, whereas non-authorities are concerned with 'nym-
shifting' and finding what nyms a poster is using. As to the program,
I'm pretty sure it was a custom written program and not commercially
available. Remember reading about it around 7 years ago in a major
magazine.

RL
 
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RayLopez99
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      01-04-2011
[On software that can detect a person's writing style]

On Jan 4, 5:32*am, ZnU <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> There are some characteristics of language use that can be very hard to
> deliberately alter -- particularly with the (generally low) amount of
> effort someone is likely to put into writing Usenet posts. Things like
> the frequency with which specific words are used over a statistically
> significant text sample, for instance.
>
> I don't know about off-the-shelf software for doing this sort of
> analysis, but techniques like these have been use to help determine
> whether to ascribe particular writings to particular historical authors,
> e.g. the "Were all of Shakespeare's plays really written by one man?"
> question.
>
>


Really? I am cross-posting this to
humanities.lit.authors.shakespeare in the hope that they can tell us
what the name of this software is, or whether they've heard of it.

RL

 
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Snit
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      01-04-2011
RayLopez99 stated in post
ac6c9beb-c0a8-4836-bd84-6aaa8d9b7bea...oglegroups.com on 1/4/11
2:01 AM:

> On Jan 4, 4:51*am, FromTheRafters <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>> RayLopez99 wrote:
>>> This is more a privacy question but I could not figure out a forum for
>>> it.

>>
>> Some privacy newsgroups have the word "privacy" in their names.
>>
>> I don't know the program you are talking about, but if you find it I
>> would be interested in the "posting style" aspect of identification. It
>> is my belief that *that* method is more powerful than just an IP address
>> or even a range of IP addresses. With all of the different ways users
>> can access the internet and usenet, IP numbers change too often to be of
>> any use outside of the authority's ability to match the IP and the time
>> to the client account and contactable person's name and street address.
>>
>> Usenet posts can be completely untraceable if the right system is used,
>> but posting style can be a dead giveaway good enough for non-authorities.

>
> Yes, good point. The authorities are concerned with finding the
> contactable person, whereas non-authorities are concerned with 'nym-
> shifting' and finding what nyms a poster is using. As to the program,
> I'm pretty sure it was a custom written program and not commercially
> available. Remember reading about it around 7 years ago in a major
> magazine.
>
> RL


I had access to a version of it a while back... and found it to be only
moderately useful unless you had a fairly large sample. Even then it was not
certain.


--
[INSERT .SIG HERE]


 
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Snit
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      01-04-2011
An Old Friend stated in post (E-Mail Removed)lid on
1/4/11 9:15 AM:

> On Tue, 04 Jan 2011 07:34:45 -0700, Snit wrote:
>
>> RayLopez99 stated in post
>> ac6c9beb-c0a8-4836-bd84-6aaa8d9b7bea...oglegroups.com on
>> 1/4/11 2:01 AM:
>>
>>> On Jan 4, 4:51*am, FromTheRafters <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>>>> RayLopez99 wrote:
>>>>> This is more a privacy question but I could not figure out a forum
>>>>> for it.
>>>>
>>>> Some privacy newsgroups have the word "privacy" in their names.
>>>>
>>>> I don't know the program you are talking about, but if you find it I
>>>> would be interested in the "posting style" aspect of identification.
>>>> It is my belief that *that* method is more powerful than just an IP
>>>> address or even a range of IP addresses. With all of the different
>>>> ways users can access the internet and usenet, IP numbers change too
>>>> often to be of any use outside of the authority's ability to match the
>>>> IP and the time to the client account and contactable person's name
>>>> and street address.
>>>>
>>>> Usenet posts can be completely untraceable if the right system is
>>>> used, but posting style can be a dead giveaway good enough for
>>>> non-authorities.
>>>
>>> Yes, good point. The authorities are concerned with finding the
>>> contactable person, whereas non-authorities are concerned with 'nym-
>>> shifting' and finding what nyms a poster is using. As to the program,
>>> I'm pretty sure it was a custom written program and not commercially
>>> available. Remember reading about it around 7 years ago in a major
>>> magazine.
>>>
>>> RL

>>
>> I had access to a version of it a while back... and found it to be only
>> moderately useful unless you had a fairly large sample. Even then it was
>> not certain.

>
> In any case, I guess that such evidence found by that program would be
> extremely circumstantial in court, similar to a polygraph test.


Agreed. Esp. when used with Usenet, a medium it was not designed for. At
least the tool I used was meant for longer pieces of text - mostly to see
which parts of the bible were written by the same person (though with all
the edits that was seen as unlikely to be of much use) and of some
historical works which are assumed to not be (or be) from the claimed
authors - such as the example of Shakespeare talked about before. There was
also quit a bit of focus on Dickens and Twain. But, again, these were
novels or at least short stories being looked at - not the type text
generally seen in Usenet. Still, looking at large numbers of posts with the
assumption that headers were enough to tell if they were at least from the
same person was enough to give evidence of who's sock was who's. But, no,
not strong enough where it could (or should!) be used in court.

I no longer have access to the program. Was fun to play with when I did.


--
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FromTheRafters
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      01-05-2011
Hadron wrote:
> FromTheRafters<(E-Mail Removed)> writes:
>
>> Hadron wrote:
>>> FromTheRafters<(E-Mail Removed)> writes:
>>>
>>>> RayLopez99 wrote:
>>>>> This is more a privacy question but I could not figure out a forum for
>>>>> it.
>>>>
>>>> Some privacy newsgroups have the word "privacy" in their names.
>>>>
>>>> I don't know the program you are talking about, but if you find it I
>>>> would be interested in the "posting style" aspect of identification. It
>>>> is my belief that *that* method is more powerful than just an IP address
>>>> or even a range of IP addresses. With all of the different ways users
>>>> can access the internet and usenet, IP numbers change too often to be of
>>>> any use outside of the authority's ability to match the IP and the time
>>>> to the client account and contactable person's name and street address.
>>>>
>>>> Usenet posts can be completely untraceable if the right system is used,
>>>> but posting style can be a dead giveaway good enough for non-authorities.
>>>
>>>
>>> Except thats nonsense since people can vary their posting style based on
>>> any and all criteria : even down to the time of day! and with a
>>> programmable system like Emacs/gnus it could be based on something as
>>> crazy as the air pressure that minute!
>>>

>> Yes, but if they continually misspell a certain set of words, that can
>> be enough for a non-authority "fingerprint". Also, use of a certain
>> phrase can be a clue. I recall a poster using "quiet" for "quite" among
>> other things and some thrown in 'as it were' that convinced me it was a
>> person already known to me under another nym - i didn't need an IP.

>
> Have IQs dropped around here?
>
> Clearly if the person does NOT change his "posting style" then you can
> tell its him.
>
> If he does, and its easy to do, then its not so easy. BUT as easy as you
> claim it is to spot, its as easy to fake.
>
> COLA is full of little header and style spotters. A shame most of them
> are wrong most of the time.
>
> If you labelled a poster based on quiet and quite and everything else
> was changed you're an idiot. It could almost certainly have been a fake.
>

That's not the point, I labeled no-one, but I "knew" that posters with
different nyms were the same because of an inability to change ingrained
habits. Your 'if things were different, they wouldn't be the same'
approach doesn't give me much faith in your competence either. I said
"among other things" so can't be offended by your lame attempt at an ad
hom remark.
 
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FromTheRafters
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Posts: n/a
 
      01-05-2011
An Old Friend wrote:
> On Tue, 04 Jan 2011 07:34:45 -0700, Snit wrote:
>
>> RayLopez99 stated in post
>> ac6c9beb-c0a8-4836-bd84-6aaa8d9b7bea...oglegroups.com on
>> 1/4/11 2:01 AM:
>>
>>> On Jan 4, 4:51 am, FromTheRafters<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>>>> RayLopez99 wrote:
>>>>> This is more a privacy question but I could not figure out a forum
>>>>> for it.
>>>>
>>>> Some privacy newsgroups have the word "privacy" in their names.
>>>>
>>>> I don't know the program you are talking about, but if you find it I
>>>> would be interested in the "posting style" aspect of identification.
>>>> It is my belief that *that* method is more powerful than just an IP
>>>> address or even a range of IP addresses. With all of the different
>>>> ways users can access the internet and usenet, IP numbers change too
>>>> often to be of any use outside of the authority's ability to match the
>>>> IP and the time to the client account and contactable person's name
>>>> and street address.
>>>>
>>>> Usenet posts can be completely untraceable if the right system is
>>>> used, but posting style can be a dead giveaway good enough for
>>>> non-authorities.
>>>
>>> Yes, good point. The authorities are concerned with finding the
>>> contactable person, whereas non-authorities are concerned with 'nym-
>>> shifting' and finding what nyms a poster is using. As to the program,
>>> I'm pretty sure it was a custom written program and not commercially
>>> available. Remember reading about it around 7 years ago in a major
>>> magazine.
>>>
>>> RL

>>
>> I had access to a version of it a while back... and found it to be only
>> moderately useful unless you had a fairly large sample. Even then it was
>> not certain.

>
> In any case, I guess that such evidence found by that program would be
> extremely circumstantial in court, similar to a polygraph test.


I would guess it would be absolutely useless - in fact, prejudicial.

It seems to me that even so, it can be a good investigative tool.
 
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za kAT
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      01-05-2011
On Tue, 04 Jan 2011 19:20:55 -0500, FromTheRafters wrote:

> Hadron wrote:
>> FromTheRafters<(E-Mail Removed)> writes:
>>
>>> Hadron wrote:
>>>> FromTheRafters<(E-Mail Removed)> writes:
>>>>
>>>>> RayLopez99 wrote:
>>>>>> This is more a privacy question but I could not figure out a forum for
>>>>>> it.
>>>>>
>>>>> Some privacy newsgroups have the word "privacy" in their names.
>>>>>
>>>>> I don't know the program you are talking about, but if you find it I
>>>>> would be interested in the "posting style" aspect of identification. It
>>>>> is my belief that *that* method is more powerful than just an IP address
>>>>> or even a range of IP addresses. With all of the different ways users
>>>>> can access the internet and usenet, IP numbers change too often to be of
>>>>> any use outside of the authority's ability to match the IP and the time
>>>>> to the client account and contactable person's name and street address.
>>>>>
>>>>> Usenet posts can be completely untraceable if the right system is used,
>>>>> but posting style can be a dead giveaway good enough for non-authorities.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Except thats nonsense since people can vary their posting style based on
>>>> any and all criteria : even down to the time of day! and with a
>>>> programmable system like Emacs/gnus it could be based on something as
>>>> crazy as the air pressure that minute!
>>>>
>>> Yes, but if they continually misspell a certain set of words, that can
>>> be enough for a non-authority "fingerprint". Also, use of a certain
>>> phrase can be a clue. I recall a poster using "quiet" for "quite" among
>>> other things and some thrown in 'as it were' that convinced me it was a
>>> person already known to me under another nym - i didn't need an IP.

>>
>> Have IQs dropped around here?
>>
>> Clearly if the person does NOT change his "posting style" then you can
>> tell its him.
>>
>> If he does, and its easy to do, then its not so easy. BUT as easy as you
>> claim it is to spot, its as easy to fake.
>>
>> COLA is full of little header and style spotters. A shame most of them
>> are wrong most of the time.
>>
>> If you labelled a poster based on quiet and quite and everything else
>> was changed you're an idiot. It could almost certainly have been a fake.
>>

> That's not the point, I labeled no-one, but I "knew" that posters with
> different nyms were the same because of an inability to change ingrained
> habits. Your 'if things were different, they wouldn't be the same'
> approach doesn't give me much faith in your competence either. I said
> "among other things" so can't be offended by your lame attempt at an ad
> hom remark.


That was a lame attempt at an ad hom remark. Who am I? You?
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Assigned to protect you. You've been targeted for denigration!
 
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