Surfing the Internet anonymously with JonDonym

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Lead Image © Sergio Barrios,

Lead Image © Sergio Barrios,

Covering Your Tracks

JonDonym lets you surf the Internet anonymously without complicated configurations, even from a live stream.

The Internet provides many opportunities but also poses many dangers and risks, including escalating threats from attackers. These risks can be especially high in some countries with increasing demands for censorship and surveillance. With this in mind, anonymous surfing makes sense. But, to protect distributions, browsers, and applications against snoopers, you would typically need a detailed understanding of the network and your operating system. Or, you can take a shortcut and use JonDonym, an anonymization service that prevents exposure of your surfing habits and data.

The Service

JonDonym is available for download as open source software in various versions. One version is a complete Live distribution based on Debian that includes both CD and DVD images. Another approach is to secure your personal Linux installation with a JonDonym client and a matching Firefox profile called JonDoFox. A console version of the software and a modified version of Firefox called JonDoBrowser [1] are also available.

The software's functionality is the same throughout. Internet access is achieved through a local proxy that encrypts the data and forwards it with an anonymous IP address to a cascade of mix servers [2] available in different countries and maintained by multiple independent vendors. They serve packets of data to obfuscated paths so that attacks on and recording of your traffic remain ineffective.

The JonDonym service was started by JonDos GmbH in cooperation with the Technical University of Dresden and the University of Regensburg. These universities do not develop and maintain the software but coordinate accounts between the premium service users and server operators.

Along with the free version, which has more limited data and functionality, a commercial service offers different options and data contingencies [3]. The company also handles certification of the mix servers.

Getting Started

To set up the service on a running system, you need the JonDoFox Firefox profile along with the client, both of which are available on the web [4]. You can unpack the two archives for the client and JonDoFox profile:

tar -xjvf jondo_linux.tar.bz2
tar -xjvf jondofox_linux_en-US.tar.bz2

Next, become superuser with sudo su , because you need administrator rights to install the client, then change to the newly created jondo_linux directory and run the script with the ./install_jondo command. The routine configures the software.

To install the new Firefox profile, open another terminal. Unpacking the client tarball creates a profile subdirectory. In the parent directory, you'll find the installation script, which you can activate with ./ . You do not need administrator rights for this step. Do make sure Firefox is not running during the installation.

After completing the installation, you must first activate the JonDo service by typing jondo in the terminal. The somewhat sluggish Java software guides you through the configuration from a graphical menu in just a few steps. The computer then establishes a connection to one of the cascades of mix servers, with the free version running at a relatively modest speed of 30 to 50kbps (Figure  1).

Figure 1: The start window displays the more important parameters.

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