Find out where your spam comes from….

Ever wondered where spammers get your email address from? This is how you can find out – it only works when you start with a new domain or new googlemail account.

Method 1

If you have a custom domain you registered e.g. fiendishlyclever.com you own all the email addresses at that domain. If you set all the emails to forward to your current email address you will get all the email that comes to every address. Then all you need to do is when you sign up for a site, you include the site name in the email address you give for that site. For example if you were shopping on Amazon, you would give your email address as [email protected] where you swap domainname.com for your own. When you start getting spam email you can see where they have come from.

Method 2

This is very similar but uses Googlemail (Gmail). Google mail has a set of features only recently documented. Because of the way Google parses the email addresses, you can change your email address in 2 different ways and still receive your email. Googlemail takes no notice of where the dots are before the @ sign so you can change these when you give out your email address – although this is not as useful as the next feature. You can also add a plus sign (+) and extra characters after your username and before the @ sign. This has been confirmed to work with regular googlemail and googlemail for domains. This can be used now in the same way as method 1. When you sign up for a new site, add +sitename before the @ sign. For example [email protected] if you were shopping at Amazon. You could also do this when you give out your email address to friends. When you start to get spam email – have a look and see who sold you out! I’ve started using this method so it will be interesting to see if the email addresses of my incoming spam change!

Playing Warcraft over an SSH tunnel

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Scenario: I want to play World of Warcraft at work or behind a firewall. Most ports are blocked although I am able to get a tunnel out (eg on port 443). Of course you need a PC left on around the clock to connect to (or a router running dd-wrt) – to see my other SSH related articles click ‘Technology talk’ on the menu to the left.

Solution: Use a commercial piece of software called proxifier which routes traffic from any piece of software over your ssh tunnel. (Update: There is a new version of proxifier which can be run from a usb key in addition to the standard version)

Open your ssh tunnel using putty (be sure to make sure you have the dynamic/socks tunnel enabled). Opening a tunnel on port 443 is usually possible. I am usually able to open a tunnel on port 443 from where I work (an educational broadband consortium) but on the few occasions when I can’t open one, I can force one if I know the proxy server name by putting the proxy details in the proxy tab. (This link may tell you if you are behind a proxy server – click on ‘Proxy test’)

In the options for proxifier tell it which port your tunnel is on (proxy settings).

You can set it to route all traffic (apart from exclusions) over the tunnel, or to only route traffic from certain applications over your tunnel. I did the latter.

When I started warcraft up I was able to log on from work over my tunnel. Ping times were usually playable (120ms upwards) but this depended on the quality of the connection between your computer and your server.

And there you have it – World of Warcraft over an ssh tunnel from work! Easy when you know how!! (and much simpler than setting up a VPN!).

Of course you need a piece of hardware permanently powered up at the other end but buying the right router or running a low power Linux box like a Linksys NSLU2 is a brilliant way around this (and can also host networked storage, web pages and even torrents whilst drawing very little power).

This page gets more hits than any other on my site – please leave a comment if you found this page useful or if you have any questions.

Web browsing over an SSH tunnel

This is how I set up my SSH

server so that I can connect securely over an encrypted connection whenever I want to browse in private. A powerful tool when combined with a U3 memory stick or the portable apps suite.

The first step is to set up ssh/openssh on your server. Your server needs to be permanently switched on and connected to the internet. You should also aim to have a firewall between your computer and the internet, and leave as few open ports as possible. I have successfully set up openssh on windows XP but it I feel safer running an ssh server on a Linux server. I’ve run (and am still running) ssh servers on both Ubuntu server and on my ‘unslung’ Linksys NSLU2. If you are looking for a low-power web server and ssh server you can’t go far wrong with the NSLU2. I’ll say no more about this clever little device apart from saying that it has its own website dealing with how to unlock the extra functionality and set up the various servers – http://www.nslu2-linux.org/

You will need to forward a port from the router to your server – in the past I’ve given my server a static IP address on the internal network. This means the router will always be able to connect to it on the same IP address. Under ubuntu you can give your server a static IP address by editing /etc/network/interfaces (type sudo nano /etc/network/interfaces ).
It should look like:
auto eth0
iface eth0 inet dhcp

and you need to change it to something like this (assuming your router is 192.168.1.1)

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet static
address 192.168.1.100
netmask 255.255.255.0
network 192.168.1.0
broadcast 192.168.1.255
gateway 192.168.1.1

then you can restart the networking components by typing sudo /etc/init.d/networking restart

Setting port forwarding for your router is outside the scope of this guide – searching Google should help you if your manual doesn’t give you any help.

If you are running ubuntu server you get the option to install an ssh server as part of the installation process. You can always install it later if required using the (sudo) apt-get install ssh command.
Once you have a working ssh server you will need to edit the config file and set up a key to log on. Using a simple password is not very secure and not recommended. Also changing the default port from 22 to a higher number prevents many intrusion attempts – port 443 is often open from work networks (recommended if you are wanting to use this technique to surf undetected from work).
You need to edit /etc/ssh/sshd_config (sudo nano /etc/ssh/sshd_config) and check these lines
Port – change from 22 to something like 443
PubkeyAuthentication yes
AuthorizedKeysFile .ssh/authorized_keys
Once you have a working setup that you can use with a public key you will have to change
PasswordAuthentication to no to prevent anyone logging in by guessing a password.

The next stage is to make a key – use puttygen for this (it’s easiest to do this on the remote pc) http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/download.html

Generate a random key and save the private key onto your computer. You will need to copy and paste the public key so don’t quit yet. Connect to your server using Putty – it should ask for a user name and password at this stage.

Where to save the file public key depends on the user name you wish to log in with.
Change to that directory – cd /home/user
See if you have a .ssh folder by trying to cd .ssh (if you haven’t you can mkdir .ssh)
Inside the .ssh folder you create a key file by typing echo ssh-rsa

= rsa-key-20080210 > authorized_keys
(Right clicking on the putty window pastes the clipboard into the screen).
Set file permissions by typing chmod 644 authorized_keys

Logout with putty and try again using a key. To do this go in the ssh section of the putty config and look for the auth section – this is where you enter the location of the private key you saved earlier.

You also need to set up the tunnel – look in putty under SSH/tunnels and type 8181 into the source port box, click the dynamic button and then add. You should see D8181 appear in the window.
In firefox or internet explorer you need to find the proxy settings and set them for 127.0.0.1 port 8181 (socks 5 proxy). I’d recommend using Firefox since you can also send your DNS requests over your ssh tunnel and no one in the office can tell what you are browsing. Type about:config in the firefox address bar and look for network.proxy.socks_remote_dns = true
If you use firefox in different environments I’d recommend looking for a proxy switching app (eg foxyproxy).

I realise these instructions are pretty brief and require a little technical knowledge – if you require more detailed help, fill in the contact me form on my website and I may be able to help you. Alternatively you could try searching google using some of the terms from this guide. Happy surfing.

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