Sometimes, it happens that I prefer being anonymous on the net. I’m not talking about “big brother” conspiracies and how google knows everything about me. It’s probably true, but I’ve nothing to hide from them. I’m talking about situations where I need to reach darker areas of the net, areas swarming with evil. I don’t usually hangout in that sort of places, but from time to time, I need a piece of information available only there.
Disclaimer: I do not in any way encourage you to do any kind of illegal act. Everything you do is on your own responsibility.
Lately, I found myself seeking for information, following a lead to a very suspicious irc server. Yes, irc. The place where all geek wars occurred in mid-nineties. Where we had our chats and channel takeovers, where we got banned and k-lined, where we spoke to bots to fulfill our download needs and had well-defined power hierarchy. Good times indeed. For my non-geek readers, irc stands for Internet Relay Chat. It’s basically a chatting platform, that was quite common back days, way before ICQ.
It turns out that this protocol is still in use, and I needed to get Linux client. The first tool I checked was Empathy, Gnome’s instant messaging client which I already use. It supports irc, but lacks anonymity. Anonymity would masquerade my IP, so the creeps wouldn’t be able to attack me, plus, no one would be able to relate me to that evil server. Quite useful uh?
The best anonymity platform (AFAIK) is Tor (The Onion Router). I won’t get into details, what is it good and bad for, but it basically creates virtual tunnel between you and your destination through different computers, keeping your IP hidden from destination. You still need to make sure you don’t send destination info about your identity. On irc it’s easy. You just leave “real name” empty and use different nick from what you use to.
The irc client I chose was recommended on Tor’s website, XChat. It’s easy to install from Ubuntu repositories and its graphic UI has amazing resemblance to mIRC so I felt home. Tor installation is quite easy as well, you just have to follow the instructions here. Once it’s installed and ready (make sure you got “Bootstrapped 100%: Done.” on /var/log/tor/log) you can start using it. Configure XChat to use it, as described here and you’re done!