Anonymous Web Hosting

2 months 1 day ago - 2 months 1 day ago #430 by faizan
Anonymous Web Hosting was created by faizan
Anonymity and privacy aren't synonyms when you pay for services on the web
There are a few significant differences between anonymous web hosting and private web hosting — and most people cannot easily obtain the former.

Private Hosting

A private hosting agreement essentially protects the identity of a web host's client from public discovery. In a sense, most paid hosting are functionally private as the hosting provider does not publish client lists. The hosting provider may, however, share client lists with trade partners.

Privacy isn't often guaranteed, but it's typically difficult to get at the identity of a site owner, through a paid hosting service, except in cases of actual or alleged criminal activity. Most of the hosting provider protect the privacy of their clients from routine public inspection, although they'll also usually cooperate in full with search warrants and subpoenas.

Surfacing Owner Names

Most of the site owners aren't publicly exposed by their hosting provider — they're exposed through the DNS. DNS registrars are required to collect all the information about the owner of a domain name: typically the name, email, address and contact number of the administrative and technical contacts.

This information about a client is publicly posted in the DNS system and is easily accessible through simple search terms.

Some domain name registrars offer a special paid service, called private hosting or, that still collects the required information, but suppresses it in DNS listings. In essence, the requirement is satisfied by the personal contact information is not public.

It's quite difficult to obtain true anonymity for one simple reason: Almost all web hosting providers offer their services for a fee, and that fee requires payment in credit cards, Skrill or PayPal payments. Because banks in the USA are required by "KYC" laws to positively identify account holders, providing pseudonymous data to a reseller cannot overcome the fact that your debit card or credit card has your name on it.

To host without identity, you'll need to:
  • Find a host that offers free of cost services (rare)
  • Find a host that accepts cryptocurrency, like bitcoin
  • Find a hosting provider operating outside of the USA, and for which the U.S. lacks treaty authority to obtain financial records

One caveat about those overseas web hosting providers that accept bitcoin: They're often run by scammers themselves, with malware and other risks inherent in the situation. And even if you're lucky enough to find an overseas bitcoin-accepting host, it's probably safe to assume that law-enforcement and anti-terrorism authorities also know about those hosts and watch them with special care.

Other strategies, including hiding behind a fictitious corporate name, still fail under banking "KYC" laws. If you need anonymity because you intend to break the law, the FBI and state-level law-enforcement officials can subpoena your payment information.

And even if you do manage to find a hosting provider that will give you secure, risk-free space — your IP address will likely give you away unless you're a fanatic about using a VPN, and your VPN isn't willing to answer subpoenas or search warrants.
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