May 04, 2003

How to Hide Things on the Internet

The Head Lemur offers a lesson on how to use the internet to hide things:

The Head Lemur: One of the re-occurring themes that appear on design lists is 'hiding content', or making one's code invisible. Most of the solutions just don't work. The internet is not about hiding stuff. But in the interest of fairness I can offer a proven method of hiding content.
Below is how to do it.

I can help you!

If you are serious about hiding contents follow the 6 point program below.

1. Take it down from the publicly available internet location.
2. Turn off the computer with the original files.
3. Remove the harddrive.
4. Destroy the harddrive by using a 18 LB sledge hammer.
5. Bury the remains in a land fill.
6. Have hypnosis to remove any traces of memory of the above.

These 6 steps which save you 6 steps such as you find in drug and alcohol 12 step programs are the only sure way to hide contents such as you would find on the portion of the internet accessible through the use of a browser.

If you want to hide things the web is not the place for you.

The web is the next generation in communication.
To understand what this means the MW dictionary defines communication like this:

Main Entry: com∑mu∑ni∑ca∑tion
Pronunciation: k&-"myŁ-n&-'kA-sh&n
Function: noun
Date: 14th century
1 : an act or instance of transmitting
2 a : information communicated b : a verbal or written message
3 a : a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior <the function of pheromones in insect communication>; also : exchange of information b : personal rapport <a lack of communication between old and young persons>
4 plural a : a system (as of telephones) for communicating b : a system of routes for moving troops, supplies, and vehicles c : personnel engaged in communicating
5 plural but singular or plural in construction a : a technique for expressing ideas effectively (as in speech) b : the technology of the transmission of information (as by print or telecommunication)

Nowhere in the above definition does the act of communication imply hiding, restricting, or otherwise put limits on communication once a common system is defined.

The web and HTML is such a system. Its whole design and purpose is to transmit data. This data may be truth, lies, opinions, conjecture, or my personal favorite, raving lunacy. But it is communication on a scale only imagined by science fiction writers, that is now in front your eyes. The ability that we have to present thought, information, speculation, news, and history not only for personal or professional reasons is the most liberating creation in history.

But hell, Let's hide stuff!
After all, hiding stuff has been responsible for more wars, hatred, injustice, bigotry, and evil since folks have begun communicating. Hiding stuff has been good business for religions, companies, dictatorships and even so called democracies. One of the most interesting ideas and moral strictures that still exists is the 'wisdom' that people can't handle the truth. This is usually promoted by a self appointed group whose aim is to restrict information in such a way as to continue a structure of power for themselves.

Hiding stuff comes from fear. Believing that someone is out to take it, raises the question of what led you to the conclusion that whatever it is has such a potential for destroying your way of life? And since you have reached this conclusion, where did the idea come from to put it on the web?

The web is the last place in the world to attempt to hide anything.

The code is against you.

The browser is against you.

The computer and its connection are against you.

The structure and protocols used in the internet are against you.

I am against you, but I did offer you a solution that I know works.

If you want to hide things the web is not the place for you.

The lesson is quite basic: the internet is not for hiding things. Things that you don't want the whole world to look at should not be placed anywhere beneath the root of any directory accessible to Apache.

Posted by DeLong at May 4, 2003 03:34 PM | TrackBack


Speaking of hiding stuff in plain sight, incompetent elites, ghoulish sociological experiments, status heirarchies, England's "loony leftists", dog-wagging, budget-busting, over-compensated corporate fundamentalist cultural warriors and such:

Have you guys heard about THESE squirrels?

"Meet the 'Family'

Undercover among America's secret theocrats

A lot of people have been talking about an article in last month's Harper's magazine by Jeffrey Sharlet, editor of the web site

and co-author of the upcoming "Killing the Buddha: A Heretic's Bible" (Free Press). Sharlet chronicles his three week stay inside a $4.4 million Arlington, Virginia mansion owned by a mysterious, highly connected, religious group known as the Fellowship.

Not only did Sharlet live among the members, he delved deep into the group's archives finding evidence that the Fellowship has had extensive links to such spiritually enlightened characters as Latin American dictators, death squad leaders and Indonesia's brutal President Suharto, who is accused of killing more than half a million suspected communists with the aid of the CIA.

Just how powerful is this group? What are its core beliefs? The answers may shock you.

GNN recommends our readers first read Sharlet's Harper's article "Jesus Plus Nothing" here,

and then return for GNN's conversation with the author:

GNN: You went undercover into this house. Who were you posing as and what were you trying to find?

SHARLET: Actually, I was posing as myself. I write about religion. A friend said go check it out, it's an interesting place. I went not knowing the politics. Within a few days I began to see things were not at all what I expected. This was connected to a pretty vast political network. Still it was quite a pleasant place to live. These people had a different approach than I did, but I was interested in learning. As time went on I started hearing more and more disturbing talk.

That's when I started keeping my ears open. I didn't go in undercover, but I suppose I left undercover. But I told them who I was, I never told a lie.

GNN: Some people have called your story a hoax.

SHARLET: I've got lots of letters from people saying this has got to be a hoax, or please tell me it's a hoax or curiously from people who know a little too much to be saying the things they were saying.

GNN: What are some this group's core ideas and what level of secrecy is involved here?

SHARLET: The goal is an "invisible" world organization led by Christ - that's what they aspire to. They are very explicit about this if you look in their documents, and I spent a lot of time researching in their archives. Their goal is a worldwide invisible organization. That's their word, and that's important because it sounds so crazy.

What they mean when they say "a world organization led by Christ" is that literally you just sit there and let Christ tell you what to do. More often than not that leads them to a sort of paternalistic benign fascism. There are a lot of places that they've done good things, and that's important to acknowledge. But that also means they might be involved with General Suharto in Indonesia and if that means that God leads him to kill half a million of his own citizens then, well, it would prideful to question God leading them.

GNN: Who are these guys, and how many are there?

SHARLET: The only estimate was made by Charles Colson, Nixon's chief dirty tricks guy who went on to become the head of Prison Fellowship Ministries. Right before he went to prison the founder [of the Fellowship] Doug Coe turned him on to Christ. Colson said there are about 20,000 people involved in the U.S. But you aren't really supposed to talk about it.

I always say to interviewers, "This is not a conspiracy." There's no secret badge or anything. It's much looser. This is how the vast right-wing conspiracy works, by being associates, friends.

GNN: But they speak of themselves as operating in terrorist-like cells.

SHARLET: Yes, they do. Inside your cell, you might know six or eight guys.

Let me give you a real quick history. In 1935, Abraham Vereide starts it. By the 1940s he has about a third of Congress attending a weekly prayer meeting. In the mid-50s, he gets Eisenhower's support.

[According to a 2002 Los Angeles Times article, during the 1950's Vereide played a major role in the U.S. government's anti-communist activities: "Pentagon officials secretly met at the group's Washington Fellowship House in 1955 to plan a worldwide anti-communism propaganda campaign endorsed by the CIA, documents from the Fellowship archives and the Eisenhower Presidential Library show...."

Posted by: Mike on May 4, 2003 05:04 PM

Did you ever hear the folk tale ending with the leprechaun hiding the crock of gold that was under a bush clearly marked with a ribbon? He marked EVERY bush in the field the same way.

So also, none of the millions of us with THE answer can ever reveal it on the internet. Partly because all those cranks out there are obscuring my true and perfect insight with all their shouting, and partly (it must be said) because there is no "the" answer after all, and some of the cranks aren't; but the interaction of their messages with mine makes Buridan's Logical Ass out of our audience, torn between two indistinguishable bales of hay and starving from eating neither.

Oh, sod it. Go and look at my publications page anyway, and then pay serious attention to Professor Kim Swales of the University of Strathclyde. I know you won't.

From one crying in the wilderness...

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on May 4, 2003 05:09 PM

Far too often, the best way to hide stuff is to expose it in the open, camouflaged by innocuous material. What better way to hide documents than to include in the biggest attic for data that the world has ever known? The key is to generate false and misleading copies of the data you want to hide.

Application: Rather than have your blog, documents, images, and important files on one domain, have multiple blogs, multiple files, multiple images, and multiple secret documents, of which only one copy is real.

Posted by: Pete on May 4, 2003 07:06 PM

P.M Lawrence writes:

"Did you ever hear the folk tale ending with the leprechaun hiding the crock of gold that was under a bush clearly marked with a ribbon? He marked EVERY bush in the field the same way...."

You don't say?

Did YOU ever hear the folk tale about "our new baby"

"We now have a 51st state of 23 million people. We just adopted a baby called Baghdad."

the "wonderful tar baby" ;?)

"...One day atter Brer Rabbit fool 'im wid dat calamus root, Brer Fox went ter wuk en got 'im some tar, en mix it wid some turkentime, en fix up a contrapshun w'at he call a Tar-Baby, en he tuck dish yer Tar-Baby en he sot 'er in de big road, en den he lay off in de bushes fer to see what de news wuz gwine ter be. En he didn't hatter wait long, nudder, kaze bimeby here come Brer Rabbit pacin' down de road--lippity-clippity, clippity -lippity--dez ez sassy ez a jay-bird. Brer Fox, he lay low. Brer Rabbit come prancin' 'long twel he spy de Tar-Baby, en den he fotch up on his behime legs like he wuz 'stonished. De Tar Baby, she sot dar, she did, en Brer Fox, he lay low.

"`Mawnin'!' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee - `nice wedder dis mawnin',' sezee.

"Tar-Baby ain't sayin' nuthin', en Brer Fox he lay low.

"`How duz yo' sym'tums seem ter segashuate?' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee.

"Brer Fox, he wink his eye slow, en lay low, en de Tar-Baby, she ain't sayin' nuthin'.

"'How you come on, den? Is you deaf?' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee. 'Kaze if you is, I kin holler louder,' sezee.

"Tar-Baby stay still, en Brer Fox, he lay low.

"'You er stuck up, dat's w'at you is,' says Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'en I;m gwine ter kyore you, dat's w'at I'm a gwine ter do,' sezee.

"Brer Fox, he sorter chuckle in his stummick, he did, but Tar-Baby ain't sayin' nothin'.

"'I'm gwine ter larn you how ter talk ter 'spectubble folks ef hit's de las' ack,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee. 'Ef you don't take off dat hat en tell me howdy, I'm gwine ter bus' you wide open,' sezee.

"Tar-Baby stay still, en Brer Fox, he lay low.

"Brer Rabbit keep on axin' 'im, en de Tar-Baby, she keep on sayin' nothin', twel present'y Brer Rabbit draw back wid his fis', he did, en blip he tuck 'er side er de head. Right dar's whar he broke his merlasses jug. His fis' stuck, en he can't pull loose. De tar hilt 'im. But Tar-Baby, she stay still, en Brer Fox, he lay low.

"`Ef you don't lemme loose, I'll knock you agin,' sez Brer Rabbit..."

"...'Skin me, Brer Fox,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'snatch out my eyeballs, t'ar out my yeras by de roots, en cut off my legs,' sezee, 'but do please, Brer Fox, don't fling me in dat brier-patch,' [ ];!) sezee...."

Posted by: Mike on May 4, 2003 09:04 PM

Okay, but what I really want to know is: can I hide stuff on the Internet?

Posted by: Gary Farber on May 6, 2003 12:09 PM

"Okay, but what I really want to know is: can I hide stuff on the Internet?"

Yes, but intrinsically we can only show this indirectly over the internet; that is, it would be self-refuting to claim on the internet "here is something hidden on the internet".

What we can do is this. Compile a list of known items (and maybe a control list of items that do not exist). Do searches and count the number of hits that lead somewhere. Break down the search results, and use statistical estimating techniques to find the probability of things in the statistical universe being found zero times.

It's rather like the techniques used to see how many outstanding material misprints aren't found during a proofreading exercise, or (much less publicised!) how many murders go undetected let alone unsolved.

Oh, and that still doesn't tell us HOW to do the hiding.

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on May 6, 2003 04:58 PM
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