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Click Twice

Dr. Conspiracy

Dr. Conspiracy

There is information all over the Internet, just one click away. But sometimes interesting information is found two clicks away. Many pages we often look at have their own links that lead in unexpected directions. For example:

As you may know, Republic of China President Sun Yat-Sen has a Certificate of Hawaiian Birth. Given that Sun was born in China by all biographical accounts, this presents a bit of a problem for defenders of integrity of Hawaiian birth certificates (even though this was issued in 1904). I discuss that issue in my article Barack Obama’s Birth Certificate Doesn’t Really Say He Was Born in Hawaii.

There is a mention of the Certificate in the Wikipedia, a mention just added January 7, 2009. Is this coincidental to the Obama eligibility debate? Looking at the Wikipedia changes, we see that they were made by an unnamed individual from the IP address of 85.179.138.189. Now for some secondary clicking. First in the Wikipedia change page we can see other page changes made from the same IP address by clicking on it (here and in the Wikipedia). In some cases one might see a pattern from the page edits made. Here, we don’t see anything interesting (all the edits were made on the Sun Yat-Sen page).

But let’s dig some more. The reference inserted in the Wikipedia points to a familiar publishing page at Scribd. We see on the Scribd page that the image was added by a user with the name SunYatSenBiography. One might think that the uploader was a specialist on Sun Yat-Sen or something. But clicking on the SunYatSenBiography icon yields a list of other files that SunYatSenBiography uploaded, and they were not files about Sun Yat-Sen:

Nothing sinister exactly in what we found. I just wanted to show that there’s more information out there if you click twice.

[Update: In this case I clicked quite a few times, but ended up with a tasty tidbit about the real identity of Ron Polarik. This  bit is being held close to the chest for now.]

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6 Responses to Click Twice

  1. avatar
    Andrew A. Gill January 26, 2009 at 2:34 am #

    I like to point out as a public service that all IP addresses have latitude and longitude attached to them.

    It’s poor form to publicly state where that IP address resolves to, so I won’t, but do be aware whenever you make anonymous edits to Wikipedia that you can be traced.

    (Oh, and Dr. Conspiracy is free to look me up in the book.)

  2. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 26, 2009 at 7:47 am #

    Well hush my mouth; I should have clicked “three times”. That’s a European IP address.

    Comparing two things having the same IP address one way to be reasonably sure it’s the same person responsible. I note however that IP addresses can change over time, dial-up IP’s change, the geographic lookups can be off a considerable amount and IP addresses are often shared as far as the Internet sees them everyone in a network.

    I published that IP address so that interested blog owners could see if it looks familiar. I get hardly any visitors from Europe, and all those are from Germany.

  3. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 7, 2009 at 10:24 pm #

    Hmmm, isn’t that IP spoofing site in Germany?

  4. avatar
    John May 12, 2009 at 3:09 pm #

    IP addresses are not good way of identifying people based on what they do on the Internet. If you have a person’s IP address, the exact time they were using it, and a search warrant, you may be able to trace them through the logs of the ISP they were using at the time, but other then that, IP addresses are not very useful to common folk.

    This is because IP addresses are in most cases dynamic at some level or another, and consequently, are used by many people. The problem is even worse if there are proxy servers involved. For example, if they’re on AOL, all AOL users go through proxy servers and share a small set of IP addresses.

    A previous comment alluded to the idea that all IP addresses have latitude and longitude associated with them. This is just wrong, though many in the geocoding field would love for that to be so. In truth, the best you can hope for is to know what country the IP range is assigned to. After that, it’s pretty much guess work where you are within that country.

    It’s all a moot point anyway, since anyone with a little technical know how can hide their IP address by using an anonymous proxy server which creates an untraceable IP address. While an IP address can tell you what country it’s from, it can’t tell you if someone in the US went to a proxy in NL and got an IP address from there. As a result, I can look like I’m coming from any country where I can find an anonymous proxy server.

    Bottom line, trying to figure out who did what from where is rather pointless, especially if there any sophistication to what’s being done.

  5. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 12, 2009 at 3:24 pm #

    While what you say is true, still there is a great deal of persistence in IP addresses. And particularly the customers of home DSL and Cable modem service providers can often be located with a reasonable accuracy (a couple dozen miles in some areas) a lot of the time because their subnets are regionally allocated.

    For example, your IP address points to the metropolitan area that corresponds to a word in the domain of the email address you gave. My IP address hits within about 10 miles of my house. Observers note that the person posting as Ron Polarik has had the same IP address for months.

    Proxy servers can be used, but most people operate in the clear.

    So IP addresses are not fool proof, but they are not useless either. See:

    http://www.geobytes.com/ipLocator.htm

  6. avatar
    Jez May 12, 2009 at 7:03 pm #

    I guess I’m lucky. It isn’t within 30 miles of my house. 🙂