Hackfest 2023 - Back to the Future

Jim Troutman

Troutman is an Internet "Old Timer." His first online experiences involved a paper TTY with a 300 bps acoustic coupler modem in 1982. A user of the Internet and UNIX since 1987, he has been tasked with building and running Internet infrastructure off and on since the early '90s. He has held a wide variety of senior roles at various regional ISPs, telcos, and cable companies, as well as founding a few of them. He is most often found roaming the countryside as a freelance consultant, solving problems for a wide variety of organizations, with a focus on Internet infrastructure and broadband. His volunteer activities include Director of the regional Internet Exchange for Maine and Northern New England (NNENIX.NET), board member for the Maine Technology Users Group (MTUG.ORG), and Director of Operations for the Skytalks Village at DEF CON (Skytalks.info and defcon.org).

Your pronouns – He/Him Which country are you from? – USA


VPNs are Internet snake oil

Many information security professionals recommend VPN services to end-users, especially to protect against the dreaded man-in-the-middle attack on your local coffee shop's open Wi-Fi network. The commercial VPN vendors advertise heavily, making bold statements such as "we encrypt your network data so no one can see what you’re doing", "surf the web without a trace!", "avoid government eavesdropping", and assure you that "your web traffic can't be tracked anymore". These claims are all "snake oil", and attendees will watch them be debunked. The actual benefits and limitations of VPNs will be reviewed, and a discussion of the myriad ways that are used to surveil your online activities that go far beyond browser cookies . Some tactics to minimize and mitigate this online tracking will be discussed, as well as what it takes to be truly untraceable online.