Privacy and Security
Given how easily mesh activities are monitored, many users pursue privacy and anonymization options.
Privacy mode may be used to hide an individual’s online presence and activities from others to a limited degree. The exact settings are adjustable, but typically involve masking their social profiles and presence to other users in the immediate vicinity, like having an unlisted phone number. Privacy mode can also be used to limit the use of mesh IDs and other data in access and transaction logs, reducing the effectiveness of online research or tracking them by their online activity.
Another tactic that can be taken for privacy is to stealth the wireless radio signals you emit. This method uses a combination of spread-spectrum signals, frequency hopping, and modulation to make your radio transmissions harder to detect with scanning. Stealthing your signals is either a passive activity or an active one.
Anonymization takes the issue of privacy a bit further. The user does not just hide their mesh ID, but they actively use false mesh IDs and take other measures to reroute and obfuscate their datatrail. Anonymization is a necessity both for clandestine operatives and those engaging in illicit mesh activities.
The easiest method of making mesh activities anonymous is to set your muse to supply false mesh IDs in online transactions. Though illegal in many jurisdictions, this is an easy task for any character or muse to do. Multiple false IDs are used, making it extremely difficult for anyone to tie all of the user’s activities together.
This method makes it extremely difficult for anyone to track the user’s online actions. If successful, the tracker manages to dig together enough correlating evidence and records of false IDs to get a picture of the character’s activities. If the tracker fails, the anonymous character has effectively camouflaged themselves in the mesh.
Actively monitoring a character who is fluctuating their mesh ID with a sniffer program or physically tracking them via the mesh is next to impossible as the continual shifting of IDs and intentional decoys make it too difficult to keep up.
A number of people — not just criminals, hackers, and secret agents — have an interest in keeping some of their affairs anonymous. To meet this demand, various online service vendors offer anonymous accounts for messaging and credit transfers. Some of these vendors are legit business (in places where it is legal), some are criminals operating illegally, others are hacktivists promoting the privacy meme, and still others are hypercorps or other organizations offering such services internally to their own staff/membership.
The interaction between the vendor and user is encrypted and anonymous with no logs kept, so even if the vendor’s servers are hacked, an intruder will not find any leads. While some anonymous accounts are established for regular use, the truly paranoid use (multiple) one-time accounts for maximum security. One-time accounts are used for a single message (incoming or outgoing) or credit transaction and then are securely erased.
Tracking an anonymous account is a practical impossibility and something that only an extremely resourceful organization employing a systematic and expensive effort could attempt.
Another option for those seeking privacy and security is to simply use disposable ectos. Using this method, all activity is routed through a specific ecto (using its mesh ID), the ecto is used for a limited period (until it gets hot), and then it is simply discarded or destroyed.
Given the lessons of the Fall and the very real risk still posed by hackers, viruses, and similar threats, network security is taken extremely seriously. Four methods are typically used: