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R2printy

Noob Question Identity/Sessions

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I was wondering if there is a link between each session. For example, if one visited the same site twice (once per session with a disconnect from vpn server in between) it would be obvious that the same vpn ip was used (and other fingerprinting would be possible as well), but there would be no definitive connection between the two would there? In other words, is each login getting a new identity/persona? My intent is to use VPN for regular security concerns while away from home, and to do anonymous research while logged in at home. I don't want a link between separate logins. My threat level is low, I would just prefer not to have them linked if possible.

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You mentioned your threat level but you haven't explicitly stated your threat model - the goal of anonymous research includes several adversaries, i.e. family/co-workers, network admins, ISP/VPN provider, government, spooks, Google, trackers, website admins.
Specifying who you're trying to protect against helps to give more precise answers.

 

In other words, is each login getting a new identity/persona?

I assume by "login" you mean VPN session - there is no link between sessions but you don't magically get a new "identity/persona" either:

- if you visit the same site twice and you don't clear out cookies, the site can obviously link both visits to the same persona.
- if you do clear cookies but use the same browser with its probably unique fingerprint, the site can confidently assume that it's the same persona.
- if you change your fingerprint but use the same IP, the site might make a reasonable assumption that both visits are linked to one persona. Same goes for the reverse (change IP but not fingerprint)
- if you both change your fingerprint and use a different VPN server, it's unlikely that the site would be able to link the two visits, but, in certain edge cases, not entirely impossible.

 

With all that said, I would highly recommend using Tor Browser (on top of your VPN connection) for your research:
- Tor provides a bigger, more diverse pool of IPs
- Tor Browser's fingerprint is used by millions of people, blending you in with the crowd
- the Tor network's onion routing provides some additional protection against certain adversaries, making it harder to link source and destination

Of course, using Tor comes with a couple of drawbacks:
- a few sites block Tor altogether
- significant hits on your bandwidth and latency (but very much usable)
- captcha hell, most notably on sites that are powered by the shameful "Cloudflare" CDN

 

 

If this didn't answer your question, please be more precise about who you don't want to make any links. I wasn't exactly sure how to reply because your stated goal of anonymous research involves much more than preventing a website from linking two sessions (which served as your main example).


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