Wednesday, March 28, 2012

First, Printers could be identified. Now, Bits! Remember when we discovered that the major printer manufacturers were making every printer’s output unique? Printers now place a unique, discreet dot pattern on every page that can be used to identify the printer that printed it. In case you thought you could be anonymous, you know.
Well, it’s getting worse.

This web page explains how to identify anonymous authors from their writing, in a tradition that goes back to telegraphers: Just as individual telegraphers could be identified by other telegraphers from their 'fists,' Naryanan posits that an author's habitual choice of words, such as, for example, the frequency with which the author uses 'since' as opposed to 'because,' can be processed through an algorithm to identify the author's writing. ...

But wait! It gets even worse. We think of the “bits” that computers produce as nice clean ones and zeroes, but if you take a close look at the way they are stored in the substrate, you can see that they are all different. When we copy bits from one medium to another, their original shapes are partly retained, and imaginative researchers have announced success in tracing bits back to their source.

Be careful what you write!


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