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Will ParanoidLinux Protect the Truly Paranoid? 236

Posted by kdawson
from the tinfoil-laptop-carrying-case dept.
ruphus13 writes "There are still places on the world where having anonymity might mean the difference between life and death. Covering one's tracks is considered to be of such paramount importance that we are now witnessing the rise of a Linux distro catering to the most paranoid. The 'alpha-alpha' version of ParanoidLinux is now out. But is this the best way to protect oneself? Couldn't it be easily circumvented? The article asks, 'Why is it necessary to put the applications and services designed to protect anonymity, to encrypt files, to make the user nameless and faceless, all together, in one distribution? Let's think in a truly paranoid manner. Wouldn't it be far easier for a nefarious government organization to target that distribution's repositories, mirror that singular distribution's disk images with files of its own design, and leave every last one of that distribution's users in the great wide open?' What should truly paranoid user do?"
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Will ParanoidLinux Protect the Truly Paranoid?

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  • by Phyrexicaid (1176935) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @04:39PM (#25258301)
    Little Brother by Cory Doctorow uses this idea (and name), and the distro was started based on that.
  • What do do? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rick Zeman (15628) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @04:49PM (#25258385)

    What should truly paranoid user do?

    Pull the tinfoil hat down tighter....

  • Re:Suggestion (Score:5, Informative)

    by presidenteloco (659168) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @04:55PM (#25258455)

    Just because you're paranoid
    doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

    Remember, this is the same "they" that
    are responsible for every negative thing
    that affects you. They are very powerful,
    and pretty much omniscient, and although
    you are boring, they are not bored
    observing and foiling your every move.

  • Re:well (Score:3, Informative)

    by H3g3m0n (642800) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @07:18PM (#25259619) Homepage Journal
    That is for security *NOT* anonymity, those are completely different things.

    Paranoid people need to ensure that things like Banshee in Gnome don't perform the "Similar Artists" lookup in case the RIAA is watching, or they are in a place where the internet is restricted, or where there taste in music could get them in trouble.

    Then there is the issue of cached files, Gnome by default keeps a listing of all the files you open, it keeps a thumbnail of image that appears in Nautilus. You need to disable a lot of that stuff by default in case someone access your system while your logged in (I assume you have an encrypted partition).

    A secure kernel will only do so much to help, such as it will help stop malicious software from gaining root.
  • Re:well (Score:3, Informative)

    by funwithBSD (245349) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @08:38PM (#25260177)

    You must be secure FIRST.

    Otherwise you are not anonymous.

  • Re:Hermit (Score:4, Informative)

    by Phat_Tony (661117) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @08:38PM (#25260185)
    This is obviously not aimed at the truly paranoid, though. Paranoia is a psychological disease that makes people irrationally believe that everyone's out to get them. The paranoid would probably be particularly suspicious of any product aimed at paranoid people, and they really won't trust this product at all, because they are irrationally afraid of everyone and everything. Even if a bunch of well-known security researchers with good reputations had audited the source code and said it's a great implementation, and the principles leading the project were well known people with a good reputation, the truly paranoid would still fear it, because there is no limit to the scope of a conspiracy they'll believe in.

    But there's no reason to ask whether or not the truly paranoid would be willing to use Paranoid Linux, because it's not aimed at them. It's just a clever name. It's aimed at people who actually have a rational fear that someone's out to get them. (Note that, if everyone really was out to get you, and you knew that they were, it would be impossible for you to be paranoid. The following is not an actual instance of Godwin's Law because I'm not using this to counteract anybody's argument, it's just an actual good example: while Hitler's often been described as paranoid, it would actually have been impossible for him to have been paranoid. Nearly every person in the world really did have potential reasons to be out to get him.)

    So this is aimed at people like political dissenters in oppressive countries. They aren't paranoid, but in many ways they act like paranoid people, because it truly is possible, or even likely, that someone really is out to get them.

    The main thing I worry about is that the mere presence of Paranoid Linux installed on your machine will be grounds for prosecuting you in the places where it's most needed. Is Paranoid Linux paranoid enough to make itself appear indistinguishable from Windows? Can Paranoid Linux run in the background as a stealth rootkit on Windows that you can't even find or access without secret, user-specifiable knowledge?
  • by flosofl (626809) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @11:36PM (#25261095) Homepage

    Then, once your tinfoil hat is secured in place, you can begin the tedious process of upgrading to covering your ceiling and walls with tinfoil.

    LIES!!! User johndmartiniii (obviously an alias) wants us to use tinfoil as a signal blocker. Fortunately I have found a copy of the study on tinfoil the Reptoid scientific community tried to bury. It's On the Effectiveness of Aluminium Foil Helmets: An Empirical Study [mit.edu]

    Among a fringe community of paranoids, aluminum helmets serve as the protective measure of choice against invasive radio signals. We investigate the efficacy of three aluminum helmet designs on a sample group of four individuals. Using a $250,000 network analyser, we find that although on average all helmets attenuate invasive radio frequencies in either directions (either emanating from an outside source, or emanating from the cranium of the subject), certain frequencies are in fact greatly amplified. These amplified frequencies coincide with radio bands reserved for government use according to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Statistical evidence suggests the use of helmets may in fact enhance the governmentâ(TM)s invasive abilities. We speculate that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason.

    (emaphasis mine)

    Nice try johndmartiniii. Now know the brutality of your masters, the Reptoid Illuminati, as you are rendered into their protein vats after they discover the failure of your misinformation campaign.

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp

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