How to Evade Government Surveillance and Stay Anonymous Online

January 4, 2013 | By | 41 Replies More

Chris Dougherty, Contributing Writer
Waking Times

Why stay anonymous online? In today’s society there are people and automated devices that are recording your deepest, most private thoughts and activities. Each day we voluntarily divulge the most intimate details of our lives through social networking accountsemailbanking appsonline games and more. In addition, governments and corporations can censor and block our traffic based on whatever standards are in place that day.

Government agencies, hackers and sophisticated bot networks are capturing every piece of digital data that we transmit through all of our internet-connected gadgets. Smartphones, Smart TVs, computers, tablets, and so much more…they are all vulnerable, nothing is safe these days.  Even your old clam shell phone isn’t safe.  This is because many phone providers route your calls over media using the Internet Protocol at some point within their network.  For example, long distance providers transfer calls over VoIP all the time.

Whether you’re browsing the web, signing up for a new online game, or simply checking your email, you are constantly leaving tracks and giving away information to anyone with  access and the knowledge to analyze the traffic.  Once the data is compiled the attacker can build an incredibly accurate profile of not only your online life but your real-world life as well.

I know, most people say, “Why would hackers want to hack into my life? I am not that important”  You have to understand that these “intruders into our lives” are scanning huge blocks of internet addresses at a time.  They don’t care who you are.  Your computer is simply another target IP address as they scan through thousands of computers and devices in their search for more information.  Once collected they take all the information and funnel it into databases where they can search through it later for high valued loot.

Don’t believe me?  Just read the following two stories about what our own government does:

NSA Utah Data Center Largest Spy Compound Ever – Part 1

NSA Utah Data Center Largest Spy Compound Ever – Part 2

So, the big question is, how can you stay anonymous online?  Free from government censorship and potential eavesdropping from some hacker or three-letter government agency that wants to invade your privacy while you use your computer.  In comes Whonix, the Anonymous Operating System!

Use Whonix, The Anonymous Operating System, Stay Anonymous Online

Whonix is a free, general purpose computer operating system based on Virtual BoxLinux and Tor.  The purpose of Whonix is to allow internet users the ability to stay anonymous online. This is most beneficial to users in regimes that censor and monitor access to the Internet, but it can also be used by anyone who values their privacy or doesn’t want their activities tracked online.

By design, IP address leaks are meant to be impossible while using Whonix. The developers claim even malware with admin privileges can’t find the Whonix Workstation’s real IP address or location.  This is because Whonix consists of two (virtual) computers. One machine acts as a gateway or router and runs only Tor, a sophisticated anonymity software.  This machine is called the Whonix-Gateway. The other machine, which called the Whonix-Workstation, is on a completely isolated network that only allows internet connections to be routed through the Whonix-Gateway.

Tor, the technology on which Whonix is built,  is a free software, along with an open network consisting of thousands of computers located around the world.  Together they strive to provide anonymity for individuals accessing the Internet.  The Tor Project helps you defend against a form of network surveillance, known astraffic analysis, that threatens everyone’s personal freedom and privacy.

Tor helps to reduce the risks of both simple and advanced traffic analysis by distributing your internet requests over several places on the Internet, so no single point can link you to your destination. The idea is similar to using a hard-to-follow series of roads while driving in order to throw off somebody who is tailing you.

Whonix automatically sets up an isolated network environment where your virtual “Workstation” can perform all normal internet related tasks such as checking email, browsing web sites, blogging, connecting to corporate VPNs, etc.  However all of that outbound traffic is then routed in such a way that it can only pass through your virtual “Gateway”, which encrypts the packets and sends them over several hops on the TOR network prior to landing at their final destination.

How Whonix Works: Figure 1

How Whonix Works: Figure 1

Once your traffic leaves the Whonix Gateway it is routed directly through the TOR network.  Instead of taking a direct route from source to destination, data packets on the Tor network take a random path through several relays, so no observer at any single point can tell where the data came from or where it’s going.  The relays even take additional steps to erase your tracks periodically along the way.

How Whonix Works: Figure 2 - Routing Through TOR

How Whonix Works: Figure 2 – Routing Through TOR

In the event that the Workstation user initiates a request to a new website or internet resource, the Gateway simply selects an alternate path through the TOR network as seen in Figure 3.

How Whonix Works: Figure 3 - Using An Alternate TOR Path

How Whonix Works: Figure 3 – Using An Alternate TOR Path

There a bit of a caveat to this system however.  As indicated by the red dotted-lines in the images above, the last hop in the TOR network passes the traffic in the clear to the final destination.  One of the primary functions of this computer, as an exit node, is to decrypt the data packets before they are passed off to their final destination.  This means this exit node could be vulnerable to a man-in-the-middle attack, or it could have even been placed there for the specific purpose of monitoring exit traffic by a hacker or government agency.  While the exit node would still have no information regarding the IP address or location of the original Workstation user, it would know the type of internet request that they sent to the destination server.

This scenario can be averted by using SSH tunnels or a VPN on top of the TOR network.  One would only have to install the appropriate software on the Whonix Workstation in order to provide an end-to-end encryption solution for the traffic.  Another method to bypass the man-in-the-middle scenario would be to employ the use of TOR Private Bridges or Private Exit Nodes.

It is important to note however that Whonix can be effectively used by most people right out of the box for web browsing, blogging and private conversations.

In order to make use of Whonix you will need to download a free copy of VirtualBox from the link below:

https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads

Once VirtualBox has been downloaded and installed you can download the Whonix-Workstation and the Whonix-Gateway packages from SourceForge:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/whonix/files/whonix-0.4.5/

Once downloaded, just import the machine files into VirtualBox as-is and start them up, you don’t need to change any settings…also be sure to start the Whonix-Gateway machine before firing up the Workstation image.

The default login credentials for both virtual machines are as follows:

====================

Username: user
Password: changeme

Username: root
Password: changeme

====================

Once the images have completed the boot process you can login and run the “whonixcheck” command from the CLI (command line interface) in order to verify proper connectivity to the TOR network.  The Workstation output should look similar to the following (click image to enlarge):

How Whonix Works: Figure 4 - Workstation output from the "whonixcheck" command.

How Whonix Works: Figure 4 – Workstation output from the “whonixcheck” command.

Be sure to watch for my article in the next few days detailing step-by-step instructions on how to install VirtualBox and Whonix on your computer.  Let me know what you think of this anonymity solution in the comments below…

About the Author

Chris Dougherty is a hacker and online security expert who trains government operatives.  Please visit his blog, www.VirtualThreat.com, for more excellent news and information about protecting yourself in cyberspace.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

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Category: Chris Dougherty, Community, Contributors, Governance, Ideas, Resources, Revolution, Society, Technology, Time & Space

Comments (41)

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  1. Jack says:

    What about Windows operating system, does it become redundant on your computer after WHONIX is installed or is it just another program to choose from on the Windows system?

    • Ronan says:

      Virtual box allows you to open another OS as an application from your PC, it does not affect your original OS at all. I have used it in the past to run Windows on my Macbook. Its very simple to use and free so I advise giving it a go! Great article! Keep em coming!

  2. sohoryan says:

    How does this compare with Spotflux?

    • Vytas says:

      Simpler and almost as good as that way is just install and use https://www.torproject.org/ (“Tor Browser Bundle”) on windows. It is as simple as just other browser almost identical like Firefox.

      Technical details are that all tor browsers in swarm manner fetch stuff they all need then encrypt it and redistribute to each other in random road so it is impossible to tell who actually goes where. Your PC just keeps fetching random pieces from net and encrypting them and sending to others then and when you type address then you ask others to get pieces for you and encrypt them.

    • It couldn’t be more different.

      Whonix is Free Software and Open Source. Whonix contains an extensive documentation how it’s build, how it works, what it does, what the limitations are and so on…

      There are instructions allowing anyone to reproduce it from source code. The code can be obtained free of charge. Whonix is based on the Tor network.

  3. Rachel says:

    I don’t give a damn what “they” know about me. I’ve been “watched” and my life manipulated since I was a child and I had no clue about any of it until I was in my mid-twenties. I LIVED in an old masonic lodge for three years when I was a kid. Checkered floors, pillars and “rumors” of satanic sacrifice, built in 1913, the works. Fu@# “them”. They’ll give you horrible diseases, torture you with energy weapons and make you a prisoner whether you hide in fear or get out the loudspeaker, it doesn’t matter. If they want to know, they will.

    So why not be honest? Are you all so afraid you can’t just break your true self free? Let them watch. Let the bastards listen. The trick is to not give a damn whether they hear, see or know all about you. If we were all more honest about who we are and what we know, there wouldn’t be nearly so screwed up a situation with humanity. Maybe if we were all more honest “they” wouldn’t be able to control so many people with FEAR–like the fear of being real.

    By hiding behind software you are just playing their game, on their turf, hiding behind your fear of them.

    Why do you hide? They’re already killing us with toxic airborn crap, poisoned food, etc.. You’re all gonna die anyways. Hello?!

    • zen shaman says:

      I applaud your spirit of anarchy Rachel ! fear is indeed the mind-killer.

    • dangerous mission says:

      Hats off to Rachel! I totally agree. F**k them!

    • Anonymous says:

      Well said Rachel, fear breeds hate!

    • jj says:

      Rachel excellent ..we cant hide from this sht, tor is anyway us-gov project where enemy controls all exit-nodes, linux kernel since ver. 2.6 has received substantial help from NSA agency Does it spark any feeling of security? there is nowhere to hide , just dump damn machines they where designed to spy on us
      and fck’em psychopats

      • Causal Observer says:

        The SElinux you mean by 2.6 is non-mandatory set of addons to be added to a distribution at it’s makers discretion. Avoid those distros.

    • abby says:

      The battle is for your mind. You cannot cover your tracks with a bandaid approach. Cut off the source,do not give them what they want to know.

      what
      where
      why
      when
      how
      who
      telephone taps
      analysis of garbage
      surveillance
      behavior of children in school
      food
      shelter
      clothing
      transportation
      telephone – itemized record of calls
      family – marriage certificates, birth certificates, etc.
      friends, associates, etc.
      memberships in organizations
      political affiliation
      Personal buying habits, i.e., personal consumer preferences:
      checking accounts
      credit-card purchases
      “tagged” credit-card purchases – the credit-card purchase of products bearing the U.P.C. (Universal Product Code)
      checking accounts
      savings accounts
      real estate
      business
      automobile, etc.
      safety deposit at bank
      stock market
      creditors
      loans
      Welfare
      Social Security
      U.S.D.A. surplus food
      doles
      grants
      subsidies

      Go through this list and ask yourself what you want “them” to know
      God bless

    • Causal Observer says:

      The tactical hiding is temporary until the victory is secured, which would be postponed indefinitely longer without the stratagem of war of hiding.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree Rachael,, FB is run by the CIA,,everything posted is analysed, just like all members and their personal data is recorded. These social platforms just make the governments job that much easier, however, by using false data to set up accounts and membership,and not posting any real images of yourself,or images or content giving away your location, it makes that much harder,, most networks like Comcast and AT&T, route Ip’s to more centralized locations, never giving exact locations. I think any thing we do that makes it harder for the government to track us is good.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you are strong, you will survive!

    • John Cook says:

      Well said!

  4. Wolf Teilahr says:

    You’ll forgive the rest of us, Rachel, if we don’t just meekly “raise the white flag” and exclaim for all to hear that, “there is no hope, surrender, do nothing, accept your fate!”, as you have obviously decided to do. By your own admission, you’ve grown up with a “victim” mentality, which is now so acute that you now seem to regard anyone who is willing to stand up for their basic human rights as being some sort of fool. How I pity you, your defeatist mindset, your acceptance of your fate as outlined by the evil, power-hungry, self-serving “elitists”. These aforementioned parasites would literally revel in every sentence of your sad rant.

    As for you, Zen Shaman, the less said about your comment the better. The fact that you actually applauded that pathetic diatribe tells us all we need to know about you as a person. Embarrassed yet? You should be.

    The development of this excellent software has nothing to do with living in fear, but rather, the provision of tools to help guarantee a person’s own right to personal privacy. I, for one, will certainly be testing it out in the very near future. A big “thank you” to these very talented software developers.

    • Cassius says:

      Yes, their Indoctrination was quite complete. You are a Rabbit, “Rachel”. ‘Resistance Is Futile’, Darling. Then, die, Sweetheart. That’s not Anarchy, it is Surrender.

    • nobodi says:

      i don’t hear surrender in rachel’s statement.

      typical…you think you have the real survivor mentality, but you’d be the first to crumble when your plans do not go accordingly. balancing on the wheel of uncertainty requires dancing.

  5. whoiswhonix says:

    But who is Whoiswhonix and are they tracking you?

  6. IPtracked says:

    It’s not the spirit of “anarchy”, it’s SPIRIT!!!!! F7ck them in deed!

  7. I’d sooner slit my wrists then jump through all the hoops you’ve outlined. Isn’t it easier to just dump all your machines and live in a culvert till all this shit passes??

    • Look within and see says:

      sh*t won’t pass, Jake the snake. these guys are either paranoid of their own shadow or bored to death taking lives. I’m fascinated by the Illusion of time, and how the mind creates cause ‘n’ effect reactions within the playing field of psychological emotions. Black-White. Look within till the looker disappears, this is the only way out of this programing for the mind

      • Causal Observer says:

        “The meta-experiential perceptron’s reintegration” =/= “de-existantiation”…sorry to burst your bubble.

  8. Dave says:

    Fantastic comment Rachel.

    Have no Fear and let the bastards know that you are not afraid of them.

  9. jeff says:

    Most awesome comment Rachel and well said Zen Shaman!!!

    @Wolf Teilahr,
    Run away scaredy cat!

  10. rich says:

    I already knew about Linux, having used it under a number of incarnations since 1995. I already knew about Virtualbox. I already knew about Tor, having used it under Linux and Windows as the Vidalia package. In fact, I have a Linux Virtualbox virtual machine under Windows, waiting to be fired up. The Whonix package is a new one for me, I’ll give it a try.

  11. Machiavelli says:

    Rachel, you’re doing a great job. Even great Stalin would applaud your attempts at getting people to expose themselves so the clean up is that much quicker. Its always good to know that useful idiots abound because it makes our job easier. Now, what you need to do is get them to offer coordinates and go into a group setting so we can send drones. Then the resistence will be over and you can be rewarded for all the bullshit you just peddled.

  12. Stephen L. Wilson says:

    The U.S. government created the internet. There are several “layers” of the internet which are not accessible to the average citizen, and do not begin with “www”. If you think you can hide from the government, then you are fooling yourself.

  13. Michele says:

    I completely agree with Stephen L. Wilson. Who created the internet was the US Army, they know all the secrets. And You all should ask who funded the software developers that created WHONIX software???
    There are rules set worldwide for electronic equipment. Those rules must be followed. For instance, I cannot create an encryption software that does not obey the rules set for encryption. If the rules says that the maximum allowed key encryption length is 128 KB I cannot create a Key that surpass those limits.
    The rules are made to avoid total secrecy.
    I am not here trying to tell anyone to accept the world the way it is. I am just telling you how it works from a standpoint of an engineer. Whether you agree with it or not it is your own business.
    I figured out myself that it is quite hard to change things. So I decided to change myself. Now I leave in peace after many years of meditation.

    I wish you all a peaceful and happy lives.

    May god bless you all!

    Michele

    • > And You all should ask who funded the software developers that created WHONIX software???

      No big secret. That information is available. Whonix project page claims it was developed by (at least) three people, adrelanos, smarm and anonymous. Now it is maintained by anonymous developer adrelanos.

      Everyone is encouraged to download the source code, the build it from source code, to audit the concept and source code, to audit the binary builds, to contribute to make Whonix better and so on… Even encouraged to distrust the Whonix developers, the source code, everything…

      See:
      https://sourceforge.net/p/whonix/wiki/Trust

      I appreciate critical thoughts, but with no one else contributing, what else could be done?

      > There are rules set worldwide for electronic equipment. Those rules must be followed. For instance, I cannot create an encryption software that does not obey the rules set for encryption. If the rules says that the maximum allowed key encryption length is 128 KB I cannot create a Key that surpass those limits.

      Do you refer to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Export_of_cryptography_in_the_United_States ? That does not apply to Whonix or the rest of the world so much. There are open source encryption algorithms with strong ciphers available.

    • Causal Observer says:

      Just change the number

  14. Roy says:

    Its for sure they have much more to fear from us than we do them.That’s why they spy on us. This is a war on us, and its our obligation/responsibility to fight back in every way possible. I don’t think they spy on us near as much as they want us to believe, or as much as many people think. They also aren’t as powerful as they want us to believe. They have all the characteristics of extreme cowardice with a lot of bluff, but none the less its wise to be on your game, and fight back w/o fear. Fear has always been their greatest weapon.

  15. Hi,

    I felt like I needed to make a longer statement about this news article. It’s on Whonix Feature Blog.

    statement on wakingtimes.com article “How to Evade Government Surveillance and Stay Anonymous Online”:
    (Some general corrections.)

    https://sourceforge.net/p/whonix/featureblog/2013/01/statement-on-wakingtimescom-article-how-to-evade-government-surveillance-and-stay-anonymous-online/

    another statement on wakingtimes.com news article “How to Evade Government Surveillance and Stay Anonymous Online” – mailed wakingtimes.com:

    (About government and three-letter government agency surveillance… I don’t make such claims.)

    https://sourceforge.net/p/whonix/featureblog/2013/01/another-statement-on-wakingtimescom-news-article-how-to-evade-government-surveillance-and-stay-anonymous-online—mailed-wakingtimescom/

    Cheers,
    adrelanos

  16. Causal Observer says:

    If run in M$-Windows no expected benefit will be derived since the compromised OS will not afford such. Ergo, a trusty OS will be needed to run the Virtual (machine) Box in which Whonix would reside – a redundant complexity. ‘Nuff sad.
    Use Tails or Liberte.

  17. bull says:

    This original TOR & its Vidalia package, once it was used by itself only but it was clear that her computer became a part of TOR network and a parts of the “nodes” once TOR was installed, so her computer was used by TOR as part of the nodes by other computers even while the TOR was disabled in her computer, being in such traffic or in the middle of it resulted in damage in her Window-7 that cause her computer to crash suddenly time after time. Will this new configuration of Whonix will prevent such damage from occurring to one’s computer?

  18. internet" says:

    Hello, its fastidious article regarding media print, we
    all understand media is a great source of data.

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