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SecretAgentMan: Remailers
There are dozens of anonymous remailers around the world operated by privacy-minded volunteers. The type that is most accessible to us is the Cypherpunk variety. A few of them accept incoming message in plaintext, as mentioned in my Anonymity page.

To check on the status of these plaintext remailers, get the rlist statistics from any of several sources online. You can find the sources using Google (remailer cypherpunk rlist). In this version, the hourly performance statistics (in percent) for each remailer are at the top. You are interested only in the remailers that I have named. At the bottom, any remailer that lists "cpunk" but NOT "pgponly" will allow plaintext message incoming (if its performance is good).

We are dealing only with the Cypherpunk-style remailers on the list. Most of them only accept messages encrypted with PGP. Most still use the trusted RSA keys. You can obtain the public key of any remailer by sending an empty email to the remailer with the subject line remailer-key, or instructions with the subject line remailer-help.

While it is possible to construct and encrypt the necessary message and instructions for the remailer (according to very strict rules) with only a PGP program and a word processor (or Notepad - when using a word processor, always remember to save in text or ASCII mode), it is a somewhat daunting task, especially when you wish to have the remailer forward your message on to another remailer, chaining two or more remailers together (good for thwarting traffic analysis). A remailer with middle in its capabilities listing will forward your message (encrypted) to another remailer for delivery, transparently, without any effort from you. Using PGP, your message (privacy) and the addresses of you and the recipient (anonymity) are encrypted all along the path.

You can achieve your primary objective (hiding your identity from the recipient) by simply using one remailer, and PGP-encrypting the message going between you and the remailer makes it a smooth operation. To accomplish this, try PGP encrypting a message to a remailer (without requesting forwarding to other remailers of your choice) by following this procedure:

  • compose the message in the following form:
    Anon-To: joe@isp.com
    Hey Joe, look at this!
  • save this as a text file
  • obtain the public key of the remailer, it it's not already on your pubring
  • encrypt the text file using the remailer's public key, creating an output in ASCII format
  • email the contents of the .asc file (copy-paste, do not attach it) to the remailer, having first added three lines ahead of it. The actual email must be in the following format:
    Encrypted: PGP
    -----BEGIN PGP MESSAGE-----
    Version: 6.5.8ckt
    -----END PGP MESSAGE-----
    If you have chosen a middle remailer, it will automatically send it to another remailer of its choice for delivery. While this only helps to fool traffic analysis by someone monitoring the messages to and from a remailer, it does help a bit. Remember that the final hop, from the (last) remailer to your friend, is in plaintext. Or is your message to him actually a file encrypted with his public key (even better)?

    Questions? Email to secretagentman@hotpop.com or post on the discussion board here at AgeTaboo. Don't be afraid to ask.

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