Contributed by: Burramys Parvus
submitted: June 27, 2003
How can I post with more personal safety?
As most of you reading this will realize, this website is dedicated to the cultivation of cannabis. If you apply logic to this, you will also note that this site is no doubt an interest to law enforcement agencies the world over. You see, police and governments hate the use of cannabis, and they'd do anything to crush the source (we, the grower). I have no doubt that many of these LEO have been through this site before, and Im sure its being watched. I mean, they'd be stupid not to. This site is an excellent resource to us all, but when we use it, we should exercise maximum safety. This includes running safe and secure Internet connections and ensuring we are 'invisible' on the Internet. But, this is just a small detail... what is more concerning is the nature of the posts you make...
Why should I take note?
You can spend hundreds of dollars to hide your IP address and spend hours looking up good proxies so you can log on safely, but that is all worthless when you blurt out "Hi! I live in North Yorkshire, I'm 23 and have red hair". There. You've said some information about yourself. Now, that information alone will get LEO no closer to catching you, but now they have some information that sets you apart from the other 6 billion people on earth. Every little bit of personal information you give away, brings people closer and closer to the real you.
You may say, "Well, cops can't touch me, they can't prove any of this really existed and this can't be used against me." Well, you're probably right. But, do all the cops follow the book? No they dont. If a cop wants to make a bust, or just wants to fuck someone over, they'll go to all lengths to do so. If you arrange to meet someone, or set up a 'safe address' with the 'wrong' person, you could have a rouge cop watching your house until you make a bad move and then he'll fuck you. A crooked cop wont try and charge you on what he sees on this site (if he ever knew who you really were) but he may watch you until he's got some real evidence, and then he'll pounce.
The chances of being tracked down just by posting on this site is so slim its hardly worth thinking about, but for me, its always something in the back of my mind. I will not tell anyone exactly how old I am, nor will I say where I live, what time zone Im in, and I wont post a picture with any part of my body in it. Paranoid? Well yes, I am paranoid, but a paranoid man is a VERY safe man. When it comes to cannabis, it's not worth the risk. Would you rather be paranoid, or behind bars? I know which one Id choose. Safety has priority over all of my cannabis and other 'illegal' activities, as soon as my personal safety is challenged, Ill disappear. The second I think Im under the watchful eyes of big brother, or someone knows too much, everything vanishes. You wouldn't even think I drink beer after this place is cleaned out! This paranoia is what keeps me safe, and one step ahead of the long flabby arm of the 'law'.
Now posting is one thing, but posting information that is specific to you is just moronic. You might as well post "Hey there LEO! My name is John Smith and I live at 742 Evergreen Terrace Springfield! I have 20 plants in the basement! Arrest my stupid ass!
You may be thinking that no one would be stupid enough to post specific information. Do you know how many threads Ive seen "Check out this Nissan Skyline I wrecked last night, I crashed into a telephone pole! All LEO has to do is waddle their fat asses over to a computer database, search for all Nissan Skylines crashed on the 12th March 2003 in the Florida area, and you're under the watch of LEO.
Its just silly little things like that, you may not even think there is any connection to you but there really is. LEO aren't stupid, it's their job to fuck us over, and they will. Everything you say about yourself and where you live narrows down the possibilities of finding the 'real you' from 1 in 6 billion, to perhaps 1 in 100.
What can I do to ensure I post with maximum safety?
When posting pictures, make sure you never post any skin parts of your body. Don't be a goose and take a photo of something metallic, and realize that you can see yourself in the reflection! Dont laugh, this happens more than you think! After you take a photo, rename it so it doesnt have your camera's code on it. Make sure when you upload photo's you haven't added the 'author' to the photo by mistake (its in every photos properties, take a look). Look through every photo and make sure it doesnt hold any information about yourself. Check and double check. It's worth the effort.
Dont post anything 'area specific'. Products, news, information about your exact location are easily posted by mistake. If you take a photo of a model of washing basket that was only produced in your state, then one could assume you live in the area where that product was released.
How do I check my photos to make sure no specific information is posted?
Well there are a few things you can do to make sure you haven't done anything stupid. Let me refer to the man on Ebay who was trying to sell his kettle. If you looked in the reflection of the kettle, you could clearly see the man totally naked, holding his camera up to his face. You'd be surprised how often you can look at a grow room photo on this very website, and see the author in the reflection. Don't laugh, I've seen it at least twice in the past few months. Don't take a picture of anything metallic, and if you do, make sure it is on an appropriate angle so as to not reveal yourself to the cannabis world! A good graphics man can easily turn a distorted reflection into a nice quality photograph.
Just make sure you scan through every photo, looking at everything to make sure that you haven't got your reflection somewhere. Make sure that there isn't anything that is specific to you. No newspapers, no magazines... just make sure that the photo is generic (ie it could have been taken in ANYONES grow room) this includes making sure that there aren't any product names etc in the photos. For small items, i recommend photographing them in front of a plain wall, and if you must hold them, wear surgical gloves
For scanning photos
Now this will surprise you. I've seen members here post pics of fish and assorted other things that they've scanned in. Of course, the same rules apply as above, nothing 'area specific'... but (this will knock you back in your seat) I've seen photos that have been scanned in, with a big fat juicy fingerprint on the top of it. I could clearly make out about 50% of the fingerprint in excellent detail! I was shocked at the ignorance this man displayed! Here was a trusted overgrower, showing his fingerprints for the whole world to see!
The point here is, run over every photo you take with medical precision! check every inch of every photo to make sure it doesn't have your reflection, your newspapers, your magazines... and of course, fingerprints!
Now, on the topic of photos, some of you will be aware that photos can have information about the author etc stored in them. This is how file sharing programs work (you wankers would know, when you search for porn, how do you think that the search word relates to the picture?) hehe! Well some photo programs MAY store your information along with the picture, by grabbing the computers registered username and putting it in the 'author' section of the picture. Most programs wont do this, some crappy ones might, so just make sure. You can do this by going to an 'image information' section of your photo editing program and ensuring that it hasn't stored any information.
Internet Connection Rules
There are already extensive FAQ's and threads on proxies and internet security, so i wont go into that here, but i will give out some basic rules for proxies and this site:
Never mention WHICH proxy server you are using. If you do that, you might as well not use a proxy at all. Doing this cuts out the 'middle man' and makes LEO's job much easier (if he wants you, of course)
Don't give out your personal email address, ICQ number, and don't tell other people what chat sites you use. These are all unsecure.
Remember, there is no rule saying LEO can't register an account here and be REALLY friendly to you, is there? No of course there isn't, don't be blind! Anyone could be LEO, so don't go around giving out contact information at the drop of a hat!
Now, there is much misunderstanding regarding proxies and firewalls. Firewalls DO NOT hide your IP and do NOT make you invisible on the internet. They merely stop unsolicited connections to and from your computer. Firewalls will stop random attempts from other computers to connect or communicate with your computer, and they will stop direct attempts to 'hack' your computer. This is all they do, they do not play any other part in securing your connection. This is where the proxy comes into play. By connecting through a proxy, you are effectively 'not yourself'. To all computers and servers you connect to, it seems as though you are they proxy. You will show all the proxies connection information, and none of your own. This makes you invisible, as you are no longer displaying your correct connection information. This is why it is unwise to log on to this site without being behind a proxy. Having a firewall does nothing to your internet invisibility, but it does help stop computers communicating with your computer without your permission.
This applies to more than just posting
Although PM's and private messages in Chat are not public, they are still on a database somewhere, and someone with the correct knowledge and resources could access them. In most cases, this is less of an issue, although there still is some risk. I would pay attention to make sure you don't give out direct information in PM's, but perhaps link your mate to a non-cannabis chat site where you will only log on in a private room to give out an address or other secret information. Alternatively, you could learn to use PGP and encrypt all your sensitive PM's with this. Just keep in mind that although your average Jo cannot access PM's, anyone with the knowledge of internet hacking could do this. But why would someone hack your PM's? They would have to have a valid reason from your postings on Overgrow.com to feel the need to break into this site and take a peek at your PM's. Its all related, so just keep clean EVERYWHERE!
But, its not just through hacking that people can gain access to your PM's and such. The second you write some text and press 'send' the message is blasted off through cyberspace, but it doesn't link directly to the secure overgrow.com servers. First, it has to pass through your ISP, and even your proxy server. Anyone sniffing the line will be able to read what you send, and what you read. This is why it is more than advisable to use PGP encrypt ion when sending private information, and even using an off-site email server to send this information. Remembering that overgrow.com is more than likely under the watchful eyes of 'Big Brother', and that the more you keep your real information away from here, the better. PGP encrypt your secret information and use an off-site email server is my advise to you. Don't get paranoid about all PM's, but just make sure that your real information doesn't get posted around here without PGP, and just to be sure, use a non-cannabis email server to post these PGP encrypted messages.
PGP is rather straight forward these days. Interfacing with most popular email clients is seamless and easy to use. Just follow the install instructions:
Don't fool yourself. LEO is watching this site. Do we have proof? No we dont, but do we need it? If you were part of the DEA during all this 'War on Drugs' crap, would you ignore such a mass of growers all communicating on one site? I certainly wouldn't! Even if there was no way of actually catching people, Id like to know what equipment is related to cannabis use, what people are doing, what they like, what to look out for etc. For all you know, I could be George Bush... can you prove Im not? This is exactly what I mean, your most trusted 'friend' on overgrow could be your local LEO checking up on you!
All Im saying here is, this site is most likely being watched. Watch what you say, Big Brother is watching... being paranoid will keep us one step ahead, we need every advantage we can get.