Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
Crime Privacy The Courts United Kingdom Doesn't Hide Logs From the FBI 233

An anonymous reader writes "People use VPN services to hide their identities online, right? And a UK-based service called HideMyAss would seem to fit that bill perfectly. Not so, unfortunately: they have to hand over the logs to the FBI when a UK judge tells them to." Reader wiredmikey points to a story at SecurityWeek, too.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted. Doesn't Hide Logs From the FBI

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 25, 2011 @06:08AM (#37506986)

    But another question is why they kept logs anyway? Are they required to keep logs by law?

  • by geogob ( 569250 ) on Sunday September 25, 2011 @06:14AM (#37507004)

    I've heard /dev/null is a pretty neat place to store logs. Compression ratio is quite high too - no need to worry about filling disks with uncompressed logs.

  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Sunday September 25, 2011 @06:17AM (#37507016)

    It's quite clear that HMA see their service as a way of doing things that are not illegal through a VPN. There's plenty of perfectly legitimate reasons to want to do this, and that's what the service is there for.

    It's not there to allow someone to break the law with impunity. So it's not been engineered to be particularly difficult to dig into the logs and figure out who was using the service. So if they get served with a court order saying "Hand over the logs", they have to.

    Want something which is a lot harder to be traced? Don't use a commercial VPN service, use something like Tor.

    This isn't a story of "HideMyAss selling out". This is a story of "Person uses a service in a way it's not meant to be used and is surprised when it blows up in his face".

  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Sunday September 25, 2011 @06:25AM (#37507040) Homepage Journal

    Now, THAT is the correct question. A server that keeps no logs is a fairly secure server from which to run a VPS. Ditto proxies. When shopping for something of this sort, the important question to ask is, "What logs do you keep, and how long do you retain them?" Every server makes and keeps logs - there is no getting around that. The lifetime of the logs should depend on administrative necessity. Generally, logs should be flushed every 24 hours. Performance logs, security logs, things that pertain to the ongoing health and security of the server should be retained for as long as necessay - sometimes, for months. But every publicly facing server should routinely delete logs that aren't central to the server's main mission. VPS and proxy servers main mission being to protect the anonymity of it's users.

    Shouldn't it be considered a fraud, to advertise they you will protect a user's identity, then maintain logs which can be seized by any government agency that demands them?

  • Re:lol (Score:4, Insightful)

    by smash ( 1351 ) on Sunday September 25, 2011 @06:29AM (#37507060) Homepage Journal

    I'm not claiming to have a method. My option is "don't do retarded shit on the internet and expect not to get caught".

    But using someone else's VPN service in a western country is pretty much equivalent to using nothing at all.

  • Of course. Duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sasayaki ( 1096761 ) on Sunday September 25, 2011 @07:17AM (#37507188)

    Unless you're some kind of super 4Chan, you can't run a business that actively keeps no logs and relies upon -- as your buisness model -- the idea that you can keep people 100% anonymous online no matter what they do. That's just retarded.

    Generally speaking, the best you can hope for is, "We will keep you safe from basically anyone who doesn't come knocking with a court order or warrant. Depending on your country, they may not even have that, but they'll definitely have to be law enforcement related."

    I mean, really. Would you willingly operate a legitimate business that had, as its business model, the idea that your clients give you a hunk of money and then you give them back an entirely different set of money (minus 15%) in non-sequential bills? Do you think such a business would operate without being investigated by the FBI/CIA/ASIO etc? Who would you think the primary clientele of such a business would be and is it really ethical to protect them?

    Somewhat more tin-foil-hatty is the idea that anyone who runs a business that promises to give the finger to the law, doesn't keep any logs and is prepared to go to jail to project your online anonymity... well, to me, that screams that they're a honeypot. Probably paid for directly by the FBI, with 95% of their clientelle being 13 year old 4Chan script kiddies, PirateBay users and other harmless folk who are utterly ignored and left in peace... but that other 5% being pedos (there are *very very* few pedophiles online; don't buy into the panic!), drug runners and organized crime members who are kept under close surveillance.

    In short, I would rather use an anonymizing VPN service who spells out exactly what is kept and why, and what level of law enforcement intervention is required. A service I would use would probably have the following terms of service:

    1) If you commit any crime, or transmit evidence of any crime, that has a minimum of one year in jail OR do anything *truly* retarded (like Skype-out over the VPN and call the White House legitimately threatening to assassinate the President of the United States) then your arse is grass.
    2) If you are DDOSing from behind the VPN service, or sending spam e-mail, or operating any form of spam/volume based attack behind the VPN we'll disconnect you since that typically rapes our already overloaded services. Generally no legal butthole-raping, just a D/C, one day timeout, and an e-mail explaining why. Note rule #1 still applies if you are scamming people.
    3) If the cops come with a 100% legal warrant issued by a judge, irrespective of the crime, we'll comply with its order.

    I believe that's entirely fair and I know some people will scream for more, but realistically, I think that if your business doesn't basically follow those three rules it's not going to survive... or is a honeypot.

  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@world3.nBLUEet minus berry> on Sunday September 25, 2011 @07:54AM (#37507260) Homepage Journal

    Servers in the uk have a legal obligation to keep certain logs, and we are America's bitch. TOR is the only safe option.

  • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Sunday September 25, 2011 @08:04AM (#37507282)
    In most cases, changing your MAC is pointless. It doesn't go beyond your segment anyway, and your ISP will be tracking you based on either modem identifier or physical line your connection comes in via.

    The only exception is if you are using a public(/hacked) wireless hotspot, in which case they may be able to use the MAC to track you down (Some OEMs, like Apple, keep the MAC on record and associated with purchaser) or else use it as proof if they already have enough suspicion to sieze your laptop.
  • by MindPrison ( 864299 ) on Sunday September 25, 2011 @08:21AM (#37507326) Journal

    A lesson in paranoia, it's all logic:

    Do you seriously think you can surf for free, unlimited bandwidth on some service out there in internet land? Sure, they may finance their services with advertising, and that's probably the main idea and intentions with their services to BEGIN WITH, but as with all such services, no one is ABOVE the LAW, and don't think for a minute you'll even be safe under such services.

    Sure...your ISP won't see your actions
    But the Service you use (eg. WILL know your every move, they have to...why? Liability, that's why! No one can truly circumvent their own countrys laws, not even the best of them, the only reason you don't get caught, is because you ain't important enough, if you do the CRIME, you WILL eventually do the TIME.

    It's all a giant game of who do you trust (to quote Jack Nicholson) - Who DO YOU TRUST? Some free internet service out there, are you freaking KIDDING me? They WILL when the feds come knocking on their doors, they're in it for the money, not to save your ass, that's for sure.

    Networks like TOR (google it and learn) works, because it's a giant network of private individuals that lend their computers to forward encrypted chopped packets of information they have no chance of assembling, only that makes sense as you couldn't really assemble this unless you owned the entire network ...or...figured out who where behind the originating address trough mistakes such as leaving your name on a forum, user name + previous IPs with that user name etc... Nevermind that, we're getting too technical, point remains though.

    Learn to surf safely first

    And then you may use TOR!

  • by iamhassi ( 659463 ) on Sunday September 25, 2011 @12:46PM (#37508582) Journal

    But every publicly facing server should routinely delete logs that aren't central to the server's main mission. VPS and proxy servers main mission being to protect the anonymity of it's users.

    Shouldn't it be considered a fraud, to advertise they you will protect a user's identity, then maintain logs which can be seized by any government agency that demands them?

    reason for keeping logs: []
    "16:32 edit: We have had a few queries as to our logging policies. We only log the time you connect and disconnect from our service, we do not log in any shape or form your actual internet traffic.

    21:05 edit: Why do we log the above^ information? Being able to locate abusive users is imperative for the survival of operating a VPN service, if you can not take action to prevent abuse you risk losing server contracts with the underlying upstream providers that empower your network. Common abuse can be anything from spam to fraud, and more serious cases involve terrorism and child porn. The main type of logging is session logging – this is simply logging when a customer connects and disconnects from the server, this identifies who was connected to X IP address at X time, this is what we do and all we do."

    makes sense, they have to protect their other customers and themselves, if someone logs in and does kiddie porn or terrorism and HMA doesn't have the logs they'll lose relationships with the other VPN servers they're using. Govt might even just come in and take what servers they do have and shut down the website if HMA doesn't cooperate.

    Honestly I think lulzsec was stupid for using their credit card on a VPN service for hacking online, if they thought "Let's be safe, I'll just enter my credit card number...." then they're stupid and deserve what they got. Should have gone anonymous (no credit cards, or at least prepaid) and should have gone through several VPNs in other countries.

    Wanna hack anonymously? Buy a used PC, wipe the drive (or install new HD), install OS, use it only for hacking, never put any personal information on it, never check personal email, facebook, forum accounts, bank, credit card, paypal, etc. Create fake email on PC, use fake email to create fake accounts, find free VPNs [] and go through several of them (at least three). Wipe cookies, temp files, etc after every session. Even better if you buy a used laptop and use wifi at starbucks, mcdonalds, B&N, or open networks from wardriving [] and switch networks daily.

On a paper submitted by a physicist colleague: "This isn't right. This isn't even wrong." -- Wolfgang Pauli